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Public Use Microdata: Disclosure And Usefulness

  • Sang V Nguyen
  • Robert H Mcguckin

Official statistical agencies such as the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics collect enormous quantities of microdata in statistical surveys. These data are valuable for economic research and market and policy analysis. However, the data cannot be released to the public because of confidentiality commitments to individual respondents. These commitments, coupled with the strong research demand for microdata, have led the agencies to consider various proposals for releasing public use microdata. Most proposals for public use microdata call for the development of surrogate data that disguise the original data. Thus, they involve the addition of measurement errors to the data. In this paper, we examine disclosure issues and explore alternative masking methods for generating panels of useful economic microdata that can be released to researchers. While our analysis applies to all confidential microdata, applications using the Census Bureau's Longitudinal Research Data Base (LRD) are used for illustrative purposes throughout the discussion.

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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 88-3.

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Date of creation: Sep 1988
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Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:88-3
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  1. Sang V Nguyen & Edward C Kokkelenberg, 1988. "Modelling Technical Progress And Total Factor Productivity: A Plant Level Example," Working Papers 88-4, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. Solow, John L, 1987. "The Capital-Energy Complementarity Debate Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 605-14, September.
  3. Robert H Mcguckin & George A Pascoe, 1988. "The Longitudinal Research Database (LRD): Status And Research Possibilities," Working Papers 88-2, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  4. Frank R. Lichtenberg & Donald Siegel, 1987. "Productivity and Changes in Ownership of Manufactoring Plants," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3), pages 643-684.
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