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Understanding the Quality of Alternative Citizenship Data Sources for the 2020 Census

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Listed:
  • J. David Brown
  • Misty L. Heggeness
  • Suzanne M. Dorinski
  • Lawrence Warren
  • Moises Yi

Abstract

This paper examines the quality of citizenship data in self-reported survey responses compared to administrative records and evaluates options for constructing an accurate count of resident U.S. citizens. Person-level discrepancies between survey-collected citizenship data and administrative records are more pervasive than previously reported in studies comparing survey and administrative data aggregates. Our results imply that survey-sourced citizenship data produce significantly lower estimates of the noncitizen share of the population than would be produced from currently available administrative records; both the survey-sourced and administrative data have shortcomings that could contribute to this difference. Our evidence is consistent with noncitizen respondents misreporting their own citizenship status and failing to report that of other household members. At the same time, currently available administrative records may miss some naturalizations and capture others with a delay. The evidence in this paper also suggests that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census would lead to lower self-response rates in households potentially containing noncitizens, resulting in higher fieldwork costs and a lower-quality population count.

Suggested Citation

  • J. David Brown & Misty L. Heggeness & Suzanne M. Dorinski & Lawrence Warren & Moises Yi, 2018. "Understanding the Quality of Alternative Citizenship Data Sources for the 2020 Census," Working Papers 18-38, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:18-38
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    File URL: https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2018/CES-WP-18-38.pdf
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    1. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
    2. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    3. Daniel Weinberg, 2011. "Management Challenges of the 2010 U.S. Census," Working Papers 11-22, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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