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Once, Only Once, and in the Right Place: Residence Rules in the Decennial Census
In that spirit, we suggest that evaluation of the 2000 census not be considered to be a completed process.
Finding 2.2: Although the research done to date does provide some information on the nature of omissions and duplicates in the 2000 census, the analyses are not sufficient to fully sort out important effects, and the data that have been collected need further analysis.
We note that the person-matching routines face a significant data limitation, which is the lack of coded information on “any residence elsewhere” reported by census respondents. Combining name and date of birth is certainly better than matching on name alone, but very common names (e.g., “Bob Smith”) will still create matching difficulties. Information on “any residence elsewhere” could augment search capabilities by refining the geographic scope. We discuss this point further in Section 8–B.
2–E.2 Group Quarters Enumeration
The group quarters population is a particularly challenging one for census residence rules. Difficult as the concept may be to work with, though, it is important to keep the general nature of group quarters data collection in mind when thinking of the consequence of definitional and operational aspects of census residence rules. It is important for census residence concepts to deal with group quarters as accurately as possible because the decennial census has historically been the only comprehensive data source on characteristics of the group quarters population. Regardless of its flaws, the decennial census serves as the best—and sometimes the only—window on this small (2.7 percent) but significant part of the population.
The Census Bureau’s fiscal 2006 budget request included funds that would add group quarters into data collection for the American Community Survey (ACS). The quality of group quarters data collection is uncertain—whether improved group quarters definitions and more highly skilled ACS interviewers will be able to offset the disturbingly high missing data rate (and, correspondingly, the rate with which those missing data had to be imputed) for many census long-form data items in 2000 (National Research Council, 2004c). Other federal and private surveys probe parts of the group quarters problem, but the decennial census remains unique in its comprehensive nature. As in previous years, the 2010 census will be examined as a source of benchmark data on the size, growth, and nature of the population living in prisons, college dormitories, nursing homes, and other group quarters.20
That said, the ability to measure change from the previous census may be affected by changes to the definitions of group quarters; see Chapter 7.