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A Census that Mirrors America: Interim Report (1993)

Chapter:FRONT MATTER

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1993. A Census that Mirrors America: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2234.
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A CENSUS THAT MIRRORS AMERICA

Interim Report

Panel to Evaluate Alternative Census Methods

Committee on National Statistics

Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1993

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1993. A Census that Mirrors America: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2234.
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

This project is supported by funds provided by the Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce, under contract number 50-YABC-1-66032.

Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 93-85916

International Standard Book Number 0-309-04979-2

Additional copies of this report are available from:
National Academy Press
2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Box 285 Washington, D.C. 20055 Call 800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area).

B206

Copyright 1993 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1993. A Census that Mirrors America: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2234.
×

PANEL TO EVALUATE ALTERNATIVE CENSUS METHODS

NORMAN M. BRADBURN (Chair),

National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago

ROBERT M. BELL,

The RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California

GORDON J. BRACKSTONE,

Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario

CLIFFORD C. CLOGG,

Department of Sociology and Department of Statistics, Pennsylvania State University

THOMAS B. JABINE, statistical consultant,

Washington, D.C.

KATHERINE S. NEWMAN,

Department of Anthropology, Columbia University

D. BRUCE PETRIE,

Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario

PETER A. ROGERSON,

Department of Geography, State University of New York, Buffalo

KEITH F. RUST,

Westat, Inc., Rockville, Maryland

NORA CATE SCHAEFFER,

Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin

EDWARD A. SCHILLMOELLER,

A.C. Nielsen Company, Northbrook, Illinois

MICHAEL F. WEEKS,

Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

ALAN M. ZASLAVSKY,

Department of Statistics, Harvard University

DUANE L. STEFFEY, Study Director

ANU PEMMARAZU, Senior Project Assistant

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1993. A Census that Mirrors America: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2234.
×

COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS 1993–1994

NORMAN M. BRADBURN (Chair),

National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago

JOHN E. ROLPH, (Vice Chair)

The RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California

MARTIN H. DAVID,

Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin

JOHN F. GEWEKE,

Department of Economics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

NOREEN GOLDMAN,

Office of Population Research, Princeton University

JOEL B. GREENHOUSE,

Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University

ERIC HANUSHEK,

Department of Economics, University of Rochester

ROBERT M. HAUSER,

Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin

NICHOLAS P. JEWELL,

School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

WILLIAM D. NORDHAUS,

Department of Economics, Yale University

JANET L. NORWOOD,

The Urban Institute, Washington, D.C.

DOROTHY P. RICE,

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco

KEITH RUST,

Westat, Inc., Rockville, Maryland

DANIEL L. SOLOMON,

Department of Statistics, North Carolina State University

MIRON L. STRAF, Director

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1993. A Census that Mirrors America: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2234.
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Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1993. A Census that Mirrors America: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2234.
×

PREFACE

In response to the Decennial Census Improvement Act of 1991 and at the request of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Bureau of the Census, the National Research Council in 1992 began two studies on the census in the year 2000. The studies are being conducted by two panels under the Research Council's Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT). One study, being conducted by the Panel on Census Requirements in the Year 2000 and Beyond, is considering what purposes a decennial census serves and whether alternative data collection systems can meet these objectives. The interim report of that panel was published earlier this year (Committee on National Statistics, 1993); its final report is scheduled for completion in late 1994.

The second study, being conducted by the Panel to Evaluate Alternative Census Methods, is focusing on how the census should be taken. The panel includes members with expertise in statistics, survey methods and design, decennial census operations, field organization of large-scale data collection, demography, geography, marketing research, administrative records and record linkage, small-area statistics, and respondent behavior (see the Appendix).

The panel transmitted its first report to the Census Bureau in December 1992 (Committee on National Statistics, 1992). That letter report offered general comments on the design selection process and made several recommendations regarding further consideration of the use of administrative records for the nation's censuses in the future. This interim report presents our findings and conclusions to date, many of which concern the 1995 census test. Our final report is scheduled to be completed in spring 1994.

The panel has conducted much of its work through four groups that were formed to consider different aspects of alternative census designs: (1) sampling and statistical estimation; (2) response and coverage issues, including alternative enumeration methods; (3) administrative records; and (4) minimal content and multistage designs.

Robert Bell serves as convenor for the first working group, which also includes Clifford Clogg and Alan Zaslavsky. This group is examining how problems of coverage and differential coverage can be assessed and improved with sampling and statistical estimation methods. Topics under investigation by this group include sampling and truncation of nonresponse follow-up operations and alternative coverage measurement methodologies, including integrated coverage measurement techniques designed to yield a "one-number" census. This working group was primarily responsible for drafting Chapter 2 of this interim report.

Nora Cate Schaeffer serves as convenor for the second working group, which

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Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1993. A Census that Mirrors America: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2234.
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also includes Katherine Newman and Michael Weeks. This group is examining response and coverage issues and reviewing research on methods to improve census response and reduce differential coverage. Topics under study by the group include questionnaire design and implementation, multiple response modes, census outreach and promotion, ethnographic research, research on living situations, and census residence rules. The working group was primarily responsible for drafting Chapter 3 of this interim report.

Thomas Jabine serves as convenor of the third working group, which also includes Gordon Brackstone and Peter Rogerson. This group has been studying current and potential uses of administrative records in censuses and other components of the Census Bureau's demographic data systems. The working group is considering technical, legal, and administrative issues—as well as factors such as cost and public acceptability—regarding new uses of administrative records and future research and development. The working group was primarily responsible for drafting Chapter 4 of this interim report.

Keith Rust serves as convenor for the fourth working group, which also includes Bruce Petrie, Edward Schillmoeller, and Norman Bradburn. This group is examining census designs that involve either minimal data content or data collection over a decade. The working group's agenda includes designs that depart from the tradition of asking all census questions on April 1. The group is considering both technical and nontechnical issues associated with the implementation of these designs. This working group had primary responsibility for drafting Chapter 5 of this interim report.

The primary audience for this interim report is the Census Bureau, but we have also tried to include sufficient technical background so that the report is accessible to a wider audience. We intend to revisit these topics and our recommendations as new and relevant information becomes available during the life of the panel.

The panel has endeavored to deliver a timely interim report. We have offered a generous number of recommendations, and we hope the Census Bureau will find this interim report useful in planning for the 1995 census test. At the time of this writing, plans are still relatively early in development. We believe that, if properly designed and executed, one major contribution of the 1995 census test will be cost data on the innovations under consideration—e.g., nonresponse follow-up sampling and truncation, application of the targeting model and tool kit, and new approaches to coverage measurement. Accurate information on cost and operational effectiveness will be essential for making sound decisions in December 1995, based on the results of the census tests, regarding the final design for the 2000 census.

We have not attempted in this interim report to assign explicit priorities among our recommendations, although some have shorter timetables for action and, therefore, greater urgency. After further deliberation and review of forthcoming results from the 2000 census research and development program, we expect in our final report to assess the relative importance of different activities related to 2000 census design and implementation.

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1993. A Census that Mirrors America: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2234.
×

final report to assess the relative importance of different activities related to 2000 census design and implementation.

We thank the Census Bureau staff for their accessibility and cooperation in providing information and materials for deliberations of our panel and its working groups. At the first meeting of the panel, we were pleased to be addressed by Barbara Everitt Bryant, then director of the Census Bureau, and Harry Scarr, current acting director of the Census Bureau. We would like to give special thanks to Robert Tortora, Susan Miskura, and Mary Mulry for providing regular briefings on 2000 census research and for responding promptly to requests for documentation. Also, we thank the following members of the Year 2000 Research and Development Staff who were extremely generous with their time: Solomona Aoelua, Bob Bair, LaVerne Collins, Arthur Cresce, Jim Dinwiddie, Catherine Keeley, Jay Keller, Joe Knott, Charlene Leggieri, Sandy Lucas, and Violetta Vasquez. Other Census Bureau staff with whom the panel consulted include Charles Alexander, Leslie Brownrigg, Tom DeCair, Gregg Diffendal, Don Dillman, Jerry Gates, Deborah Griffin, Susan Knight, John Long, Elizabeth Martin, Laurie Moyer, and Signe Wetrogan. We are impressed by their unconstrained vision in exploring alternative census designs that represent fundamental change from traditional methods, and we look forward to continuing our work in fulfilling the panel's mission with their encouragement and support.

Federal agency representatives who provided information include Chris Mihm and Bruce Johnson of the U.S. General Accounting Office, Katherine Wallman of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and Fritz Scheuren, Ellen Yau, and Peter Sailer of the Internal Revenue Service. The panel is also grateful for discussions with several congressional staff members, including TerriAnn Lowenthal, Shelly Wilkie Martinez, and David McMillen.

There are many staff members of the Committee on National Statistics who provided guidance and advice, particularly Miron Straf, Constance Citro, Barry Edmonston, Edwin Goldfield, and Meyer Zitter. The panel also appreciates the editorial work of Eugenia Grohman, associate director for reports of the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Her suggestions greatly improved the report's structure and presentation.

We especially thank our panel staff. Anu Pemmarazu imperturbably managed the often challenging logistics of panel meetings, competently handled the preparation of various report drafts and panel minutes, and resolved a myriad of administrative matters with efficiency and professionalism. Most of all, we are indebted to Duane Steffey, who has borne much of the burden of keeping us on track, providing working drafts, and synthesizing our prose into a readable and integrated document.

Finally, I would like to thank the panel members for their generous contribution of time and expert knowledge. I look forward to continued work with the panel.

Norman M. Bradburn, Chair

Panel to Evaluate Alternative Census Methods

Suggested Citation:"FRONT MATTER." National Research Council. 1993. A Census that Mirrors America: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2234.
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This volume examines the Census Bureau's program of research and development of the 2000 census, focusing particularly on the design of the 1995 census tests. The tests in 1995 should serve as a prime source of information about the effectiveness and cost of alternative census design components. The authors concentrate on those aspects of census methodology that have the greatest impact on two chief objectives of census redesign: reducing differential undercount and controlling costs. Primary attention is given to processes for data collection, the quality of population coverage and public response, and the use of sampling and statistical estimation.

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