Naymark and Hodges, 2000). For example, growth in the number of teenagers may support a decision to launch a new product aimed at that market; the distribution of the Hispanic population may help guide the placement of Spanish-language advertising, signs, and merchandise; and determining when the population of a growing suburb will reach a threshold for opening a new store can help in site planning and development.

Research uses of basic census data include analyses of residential segregation by race and ethnicity among neighborhoods within and across cities and metropolitan areas and over time by comparison with previous censuses. Another research use of basic census data is to analyze changing age composition and the implications for state and local government finance.

The major issues of concern to our panel with regard to the basic census data (which also include household relationship and housing tenure) concern the quality of the estimates. Specific quality issues that we address (see Chapter 7) include response rates for individual items and the effects of imputation procedures to compensate for nonresponse; consistency of reporting for the same people in the census and other sources (an indicator of reliability); and reporting errors (e.g., reporting age as younger or older than actual age) and the net biases from reporting errors (e.g., the extent to which underreports and overreports of age fail to balance out). Given that people attach different meanings to race and ethnicity, consistency and reporting errors may be particularly problematic for those items.

For census-derived population estimates, an added concern is the quality of the administrative records data that are used to update the census figures to account for births, deaths, and net migration. Specific issues include compatibility of reporting of race and ethnicity among the different data sets and the accuracy of estimates of net illegal immigration. For small-area population estimates, an added issue (which we do not discuss) is the accuracy of the data and methods used to estimate migration flows among areas.


Beginning in 1820, when enumerators were asked to tally the number of noncitizens in each household and the number engaged in agriculture, manufacturing, and commerce, the decennial census

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