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Measuring All-Cause Mortality with the Census Numident File

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Working Paper Number ADEP-WP-2021-03


Objectives. To assess the quality of population-level US mortality data in the US Census Bureau Numerical Identification file (Numident) and describe the details of the mortality information as well as the novel person-level linkages available when using the Census Numident.

Methods. We compared all-cause mortality in the Census Numident to published vital statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We provide detailed information on the linkage of the Census Numident to other Census Bureau survey, administrative, and economic data.
Results. Death counts in the Census Numident are similar to those from published mortality vital statistics. Yearly comparisons show that the Census Numident captures more deaths since 1997, and coverage is slightly lower going back in time. Weekly estimates show similar trends from both data sets.

Conclusions. The Census Numident is a high-quality and timely source of data to study all-cause mortality. The Census Bureau makes available a vast and rich set of restricted-use, individual-level data linked to the Census Numident for researchers to use.

Public Health Implications. The Census Numident linked to data available from the Census Bureau provides infrastructure for doing evidence-based public health policy research on mortality.


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