On the Validity of Using Census Geocode Characteristics to Proxy Individual Socioeconomic Characteristics
Investigators of social differentials in health outcomes commonly augment incomplete micro data by appending socioeconomic characteristics of residential areas (such as median income in a zip code) to proxy for individual characteristics. However, little empirical attention has been paid to how well this aggregate information serves as a proxy for the individual characteristics of interest. We build on recent work addressing the biases inherent in proxies and consider two health-related examples within a statistical framework that illuminate the nature and sources of biases. Data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the National Maternal and Infant Health Survey are linked to census data. We assess the validity of using the aggregate census information as a proxy for individual information when estimating main effects, and when controlling for potential confounding between socioeconomic and sociodemographic factors in measures of general health status and infant mortality. We find a general, but not universal, tendency for aggregate proxies to exaggerate the effects of micro-level variables and to do more poorly than micro-level variables at controlling for confounding. The magnitude and direction of these biases, however, vary across samples. Our statistical framework and empirical findings suggest the difficulties in and limits to interpreting proxies derived from aggregate census data as if they were micro-level variables. The statistical framework we outline for our study of health outcomes should be generally applicable to other situations where researchers have merged aggregate data with micro data samples.
|Date of creation:||Dec 1995|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Geronimus, Arline T., John Bound and Lisa J. Neidert. "On The Validity Of Using Census Geocode Characteristics To Proxy Individual Socioeconomic Characteristics," Journal of the American Statistical Association, 1996, v91(434,Jun), 529-537.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Samuel H. Preston & Michael R. Haines, 1991. "Fatal Years: Child Mortality in Late Nineteenth-Century America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pres91-1.
- David Card & Alan Krueger, 1990.
"Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States,"
NBER Working Papers
3358, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1992. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 1-40, February.
- Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
- Lucas, Robert E B, 1977. "Hedonic Wage Equations and Psychic Wages in the Returns to Schooling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 549-58, September.
- Viscusi, W Kip, 1978. "Wealth Effects and Earnings Premiums for Job Hazards," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(3), pages 408-16, August.
- Hanushek, E-A & Rivkin, S-G & Taylor, L-L, 1995.
"Aggregation and the Estimated Effects of School Resources,"
RCER Working Papers
397, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
- Hanushek, Eric A & Rivkin, Steven G & Taylor, Lori L, 1996. "Aggregation and the Estimated Effects of School Resources," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 611-27, November.
- Eric A. Hanushek & Steven G. Rivkin & Lori L. Taylor, 1996. "Aggregation and the Estimated Effects of School Resources," NBER Working Papers 5548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Willard G. Manning, Jr. & Joseph P. Newhouse & John E. Ware, Jr., 1982. "The Status of Health in Demand Estimation; or, Beyond Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 141-184 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Craig A. Olson, 1981. "An Analysis of Wage Differentials Received by Workers on Dangerous Jobs," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 16(2), pages 167-185.
- Bound, John, et al, 1994. "Evidence on the Validity of Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Labor Market Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 345-68, July.
- Richard Thaler & Sherwin Rosen, 1976. "The Value of Saving a Life: Evidence from the Labor Market," NBER Chapters, in: Household Production and Consumption, pages 265-302 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Becketti, Sean, et al, 1988. "The Panel Study of Income Dynamics after Fourteen Years: An Evaluatio n," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 472-92, October.
- Sean Becketti & William Gould & Lee Lillard & Finis Welch, 1985. "The Panel Study of Income Dynamics After Fourteen Years: An Evaluation," UCLA Economics Working Papers 361, UCLA Department of Economics.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberte:0189. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.