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Once, Only Once, and in the Right Place: Residence Rules in the Decennial Census
social trends and existing census approaches might influence census omissions is vital to overall accuracy.
Recommendation 5.4:Census Bureau research on living situations that do not easily fit census residence rules should striveto gather data on the sources of omissions in the census, as wellas sources of duplication.
Not all of the important contextual work on residence trends can be achieved by reanalysis of existing data and strengthening ties with external researchers and other survey programs. There is a need for original work as well: the trends office we recommend could design and implement original quantitative work on the basis of identified gaps in existing knowledge. It is surprising that it has been over a decade since the Census Bureau sponsored its LSS; a return to collection of hard data on ambiguous residence situations and questionnaire strategies is long overdue.
Recommendation 5.5:Data similar to those collected by the 1993LSS should be conducted on a regular basis. A convenient formfor a more regular study could be inclusion of a supplement tothe ACS or a stand-alone survey.
By this recommendation, we emphasize that we do not literally mean that the LSS be replicated and conducted exactly as it was in 1993. The content of the survey should reflect major data needs and, to the extent possible, the survey should be targeted and designed in order to achieve adequate sample coverage in populations of interest. It is also essential that the data from this work be done in a well-documented and publicly accessible way. While we do not advocate an exact replication of the LSS, neither do we think it wise to be overly prescriptive of the shape the work should take; it is for this reason that we suggest a module or supplement to the ACS as a possible vehicle. Current plans for the ACS already include a “methods panel” to test new approaches and questions that would be well suited for additional residence questions; we discuss this further in Section 8–C. A supplemental module to the Current Population Survey (CPS) may also be a useful means for collecting these data, though design differences between the CPS and the census or ACS might make this option less useful for suggesting specific improvements to the census. Regardless of the mechanism by which the data are collected, the crucial thing is that the data be produced, so that future discussions of ambiguous residence situations and possible corrective strategies can be supported by formal quantitative research rather than anecdote.