Total error in PES estimates of population

Mary H. Mulry, Bruce D. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


We describe a methodology for estimating the accuracy of dual systems estimates (DSE’s) of population, census estimates of population, and estimates of undercount in the census. The DSE’s are based on the census and a post-enumeration survey (PES). We apply the methodology to the 1988 dress rehearsal census of St. Louis and east-central Missouri and we discuss its applicability to the 1990 census and PES. The methodology is based on decompositions of the total (or net) error into components, such as sampling error, matching error, and other nonsampling errors. Limited information about the accuracy of certain components of error, notably failure of assumptions in the “capture–recapture” model, but others as well, lead us to offer tentative estimates of the errors of the census, DSE, and undercount estimates for 1988. Improved estimates are anticipated for 1990.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)839-855
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the American Statistical Association
Issue number416
StatePublished - Dec 1991


  • Capture-recapture
  • Coverage evaluation
  • Nonsampling error
  • Post-enumeration survey
  • Undercount

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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