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Is the Elderly a Hard-To-Count Population? Evidence From the 2010 Demographic Analysis Estimates

*Kirsten K West, U.S. Census Bureau 

Keywords: Elderly, Coverage, Demographic Analysis Estimates

With the aging of the baby-boom generation, the proportion of the population aged 65 and over is increasing. The use of the census count in formulas for the distribution of federal funds and in the calculation of the population at risk and in need of services makes it important to obtain an accurate count of this population.

The U.S. Census Bureau has used two principal methods to evaluate the census count. One method derives coverage estimates from post-enumeration surveys and dual system estimation. This approach involves case-by-case matching of persons in the survey with persons in the census to determine who was missed or counted in error. The other method is Demographic Analysis (DA).

The 2010 DA methodology used enrollment in Medicare to estimate the size of the elderly population on April 1, 2010. Before the start of the estimation, the enrollment file goes through a careful demographic review to ensure that it does not contain duplicate records. The administrative records are also corrected for under-enrollment because not everyone is eligible for Medicare and some people delay their enrollment past the age of eligibility.

The paper uses results from DA to examine the 2010 census count of this population and the estimates of coverage from the post-enumeration survey. Differences between the census and the estimates from the post-enumeration survey should fall within a demographically plausible range.

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