Accuracy of the 1990 Census and undercount adjustments

Mary H. Mulry, Bruce D. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


In July 1991 the Census Bureau recommended to its parent agency, the Department of Commerce, that the 1990 census be adjusted for undercount. The Secretary of Commerce decided not to adjust, however. Those decisions relied at least partly on the Census Bureau’s analyses of the accuracy of the census and of the proposed undercount adjustments based on the Post-Enumeration Survey (PES). Error distributions for the nation, states, and smaller geographic units were estimated with extensions of methods applied to test censuses. To summarize and assess the relative importance of errors in different units, the Census Bureau used aggregate loss functions. This article describes the total error analysis and loss function analysis of the Census Bureau. In its decision not to adjust the census, the Department of Commerce cited different criteria than aggregate loss functions. Those criteria are identified and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1080-1091
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Statistical Association
Issue number423
StatePublished - 1993


  • Decision theory
  • Dual-system estimator
  • Loss function
  • Nonsampling error
  • Post-Enumeration Survey
  • Public policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


Dive into the research topics of 'Accuracy of the 1990 Census and undercount adjustments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this