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The Net Undercount of Children in the Decennial Census Based on Demographic Analysis by Dr. William P. O’Hare O’Hare Data and Demographic Services, LLC . COPAFS Presentation, June 7, 2013. Why Focus on The Undercount of Young Children in the Census? .

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copafs presentation june 7 2013

The Net Undercount of Children in the Decennial Census Based on Demographic Analysis byDr. William P. O’HareO’HareData and Demographic Services, LLC

COPAFS Presentation,

June 7, 2013

why focus on the undercount of young children in the census
Why Focus on The Undercount of Young Children in the Census?
  • Young children have had high net undercount rates historically in the United States
  • The net undercount rates of young Children have been increasing since 1980
  • There is very little systematic scientific evidence about this problem
presentation and terminology
Presentation and Terminology
  • “Undercount” versus “Difference”
  • Net Undercount Here = Census - Estimates
  • So negative number implies an undercount
  • Positive number implies an overcount
how do we know who is missed in the census
How Do We Know Who Is Missed In The Census?
  • Demographic Analysis (DA)

Compares census results to an independent estimate based largely on birth and death certificate data

  • Dual-Systems Estimates (DSE)

Compares census results to a second follow-up survey conducted in selected areas (Called Census Coverage Measurement in 2010)

what is demographic analysis
What is Demographic Analysis?
  • Estimates for population under age 75 are based on historical components of change for cohorts:

[births, deaths, net international migration]

P = B – D + NIM

  • 99.6% of age 0-4 DA estimate is based on births
components of da estimates for age 0 4
Components of DA Estimates for Age 0-4
  • Births = 21,076,000
  • Deaths = 148,000
  • Net International Migration = 244,000

Source: Census Bureau’s May 2012 DA Release

limitations of da estimates
Limitations of DA Estimates
  • Only National Level Data
  • Only Black and Non-Black Data Historically
  • Only Net Undercount/Overcount Figures
  • No Estimation of Uncertainty
key findings
Key Findings
  • Children have a net undercount & adults have a net overcount in 2010 Census
  • Net undercount rates of children vary by age and race/ethnicity
  • Younger children (under age 5) have the highest net undercount rate (4.6%) in 2010 and there is a net overcount for persons age 14 to 17
  • Black and Hispanic children account of most of high net undercount of young children and net overcount of 14-to-17-year-olds.
  • High net undercount of young children is not new…..The age structure of net undercounts for children is relatively consistent since 1950
  • 1950 to 1980, net undercount rates for adults and young children fell, but 1980 to 2010, net undercount of adults fell while undercount of young children increased
key questions
  • Why are there such high net undercount rates for young children in the census?
  • Why is there a net overcount rate for 14-17 year-olds in the 2010 Census?
  • What accounts for the strong correlation between net undercount rates and age among children?
  • Why has the net undercount rate for young children increased since 1980?
some potential reasons for high net undercount of young children
Some Potential Reasons for High Net Undercount of Young Children
  • DA Estimates for young children are too high
  • Problems in collection and processing of data in Census
  • Time constraints among parents of young children
  • Young children live in households and families that are difficult to enumerate
emigration of young children
Emigration of young children
  • Pitkin and Parks (2005) hypothesize many children born to foreign-born (Mexican) women move to Mexico at a young age and are not picked up in DA emigration statistics.
  • But, 0-4 year-olds missing in 2000 were found as 10-14 year-olds in 2010.
Hypothesis - Systematic errors in census-taking or processing lead to net undercount of young children
the census questionnaire
The Census Questionnaire
  • Continuation Form …Persons 7-12 need follow up (NRFU Persons 6-12)
  • Young children are likely to be listed last on Census Questionnaire
  • 10% of young children live in 7+ person households compare to 3% of adults
several improvements in the 2010 census form
Several Improvements in the 2010 Census Form
  • Added age to information collection on persons 6-12 on primary questionnaire
  • Added a new “administrative” question about people who were left off roster
  • Added instruction about “including babies”
  • Added instruction about “child custody”
  • Partnership with American Academy of Family Physicians and Planned Parenthood
age imputation
Age Imputation

Hypothesis - Too many people who should have had age imputed as 0-4 got age imputed as 14-17 (or other age groups)


Hypothesis - Parents of young children don’t complete the census questionnaire because of time demands

Hypothesis - Young children live in the kinds of households and living arrangements that are difficult to enumerate
living arrangements of young children
Living Arrangements of Young Children
  • 10 characteristics of Hard-to-Count populations identified by Census Bureau in Planning Data Base
  • Young (age 0-4) Black and Hispanic children higher on every one of the 10
  • Young Children have higher net undercount rate than any other age group in 2010
  • Young children have had relatively high net undercount rates since 1950
  • The trends in net undercount rates of young children and adults have diverged since 1980
  • Need to develop understanding of WHY young children have high net undercount rates in the census
  • One focus of 2020 Census planning should be households with young black or Hispanic children

Contact Information

William O’Hare

[email protected]