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Using the American Community Survey: Benefits and Challenges
averaging over 36 and 60 months of data and consideration of including month of interview in the PUMS (see Recommendations 4-8 and 4-9).
Assessment of the inflation adjustments for 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year period income and housing value and cost estimates to determine if the current procedures best serve the needs of users and the costs and benefits of alternative procedures, including no adjustments at all (see Recommendation 4-11). In addition, guidance should be developed to help users interpret ACS dollar estimates with the current inflation adjustment procedures, and provisions should be made to provide unadjusted estimates to users who need them them.
Determination of geographic areas for publication (see Recommendation 4-13): Does it makes sense—considering user needs, feasibility, and effects on precision of estimates—to reduce the population threshold for 1-year period estimates from 65,000 to 50,000 and to develop and publish 3-year (and possibly 1-year) period estimates for components of PUMAs?
The other two areas that would benefit from research involve data collection modes and weighting adjustments:
Experimentation on the response effects of the different data collection modes used in the ACS—mailout-mailback, CATI, and CAPI (see Recommendation 4-5). This topic is important because of the large proportion of responses that the ACS obtains from CAPI or CATI and not the original mailout mode and the likelihood that mode of collection differentially affects responses. Mode effect experiments could be included in an ACS methods panel.
Assessment of the effects of the various steps in the weighting process for producing 1-year period estimates (that is, the steps other than the housing unit and population controls) (see Recommendation 5-1). Although not as important as research on the population and housing controls, analysis of the other weighting steps could be useful to identify possible ways to simplify the process and modify one or more steps to improve the precision and accuracy of the ACS estimates.
The quality profile outline provided in Section 7-C.1 above lists other topics for research and evaluation in addition to those the panel specifically addressed. Although these topics were not singled out by the panel, they should not be lost sight of when the Census Bureau is allocating research resources. In particular, two related topics that warrant investigation