Evaluating Linearly Interpolated Intercensal Estimates of Demographic and Socioeconomic Characteristics of U.S. Counties and Census Tracts 2001–2009

Published in: Population Research and Policy Review, v. 34, no. 4, Aug. 2015, p. 541-559

by Margaret M. Weden, Christine E. Peterson, Jeremy N. V. Miles, Regina A. Shih

Read More

Access further information on this document at Population Research and Policy Review

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

The American Community Survey (ACS) multiyear estimation program has greatly advanced opportunities for studying change in the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of U.S. communities. Challenges remain, however, for researchers studying years prior to the full implementation of the ACS or areas smaller than the thresholds for ACS annual estimates (i.e., small counties and census tracts). We evaluate intercensal estimates of the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of U.S. counties and census tracts produced via linear interpolation between the 2000 census and both the 2010 census and 2005–2009 ACS. Discrepancies between interpolated estimates and reference estimates from the Population Estimates Program, the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, and ACS are calculated using several measures of error. Findings are discussed in relation to the potential for measurement error to bias longitudinal estimates of linearly interpolated neighborhood change, and alternative intercensal estimation models are discussed, including those that may better capture non-linear trends in economic conditions over the 21st century.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.