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Inaccurate age and sex data in the Census PUMS files: Evidence and Implications

Author

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  • J. Trent Alexander
  • Michael Davern
  • Betsey Stevenson

Abstract

We discover and document errors in public use microdata samples ("PUMS files") of the 2000 Census, the 2003-2006 American Community Survey, and the 2004-2009 Current Population Survey. For women and men ages 65 and older, age- and sex-specific population estimates generated from the PUMS files differ by as much as 15% from counts in published data tables. Moreover, an analysis of labor force participation and marriage rates suggests the PUMS samples are not representative of the population at individual ages for those ages 65 and over. PUMS files substantially underestimate labor force participation of those near retirement ages and overestimate labor force participation rates of those at older ages. These problems were an unintentional by-product of the misapplication of a newer generation of disclosure avoidance procedures carried out on the data. The resulting errors in the public use data could significantly impact studies of people ages 65 and older, particularly analyses of variables that are expected to change by age.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Trent Alexander & Michael Davern & Betsey Stevenson, 2010. "Inaccurate age and sex data in the Census PUMS files: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 15703, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15703
    Note: AG LS TWP
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    Cited by:

    1. Bhalotra, Sonia & Venkataramani, Atheendar, 2011. "Is The Captain of the Men of Death Still At Play? Long-Run Impacts of Early Life Pneumonia Exposure during Sulfa Drug Revolution in America," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 10, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    2. Sonia Bhalotra & Atheendar Venkataramani, 2011. "The Captain of the Men of Death and His Shadow: Long-Run Impacts of Early Life Pneumonia Exposure," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 11/273, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    3. Satkartar K. Kinney & Alan F. Karr, 2017. "Public-Use vs. Restricted-Use: An Analysis Using the American Community Survey," Working Papers 17-12, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    4. Neumark, David & Johnson, Hans & Mejia, Marisol Cuellar, 2013. "Future skill shortages in the U.S. economy?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 151-167.
    5. Dr. Jörg Höhne & Julia Höninger, 2012. "Morpheus – Remote access to micro data with a quality measure," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 203, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
    6. Negrusa, Brighita & Oreffice, Sonia, 2010. "Sexual Orientation and Household Savings: Do Homosexual Couples Save More?," IZA Discussion Papers 4961, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Andy Sharma, 2011. "Selective Out-Migration from Florida," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 30(6), pages 817-838, December.
    8. Conway, Karen Smith & Rork, Jonathan C., 2012. "No Country for Old Men (Or Women) — Do State Tax Policies Drive Away the Elderly?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 65(2), pages 313-356, June.
    9. Sudipto Banerjee & David Blau, 2013. "Employment Trends by Age in the United States: Why Are Older Workers Different?," Working Papers wp285, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    10. Courtney C. Coile & Phillip B. Levine, 2010. "Recessions, Reeling Markets, and Retiree Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 16066, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Prada, Sergio I & Gonzalez, Claudia & Borton, Joshua & Fernandes-Huessy, Johannes & Holden, Craig & Hair, Elizabeth & Mulcahy, Tim, 2011. "Avoiding disclosure of individually identifiable health information: a literature review," MPRA Paper 35463, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Dr. Jörg Höhne & Julia Höninger, 2012. "Das Verfahren Morpheus – Auf dem Weg zu Remote Access," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 205, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
    13. John M. Abowd & Ian M. Schmutte, 2015. "Economic Analysis and Statistical Disclosure Limitation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 46(1 (Spring), pages 221-293.
    14. Sudipto Banerjee & David Blau, 2016. "Employment Trends by Age in the United States: Why Are Older Workers Different?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(1), pages 163-199.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C42 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Survey Methods
    • C8 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs
    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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