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An Empirical Study on Using Previous American Community Survey Data Versus Census 2000 Data in SAIPE Models for Poverty Estimates

Working Paper Number RRS2012-04
Elizabeth T. Huang and William R. Bell
Component ID: #ti540569208

Abstract

The Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates Program (SAIPE) produces model-based poverty estimates at the county and state level. SAIPE uses Fay-Herriot (1979) models with dependent variables obtained from direct survey poverty estimates (currently obtained from ACS, but prior to 2005 obtained from CPS), and regression predictor variables derived from tabulations of IRS tax data, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) program data, and previous census estimates (since 2000, these have been the Census 2000 long form estimates). Although the latter have consistently been important predictors in the state and county models, as time advances and the Census 2000 poverty estimates become further removed from the production year, questions arise about their continued value in the model, and particularly about whether they might be somehow replaced in the model by ACS estimates for previous years. At the county level this would suggest consideration be given to replacing Census 2000 estimates with ACS 5-year estimates formed from data for the 5 years preceding the production year (because the only estimates published for all counties are 5-year estimates.) At the state level, the Census 2000 estimates could be replaced by single-year ACS estimates for the year immediately preceding the production year.

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