Total error in the dual system estimator: The 1986 Census of Central Los angeles County

Mary H. Mulry, Bruce D. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The U.S. Bureau of the Census uses dual system estimates (DSEs) for measuring census coverage error. The dual system estimate uses data from the original enumeration and a Post Enumeration Survey. In measuring the accuracy of the DSE, it is important to know that the DSE is subject to several components of nonsampling error, as well as sampling error. This paper gives models of the total error and the components of error in the dual system estimates. The models relate observed indicators of data quality, such as a matching error rate, to the first two moments of the components of error. The propagation of error in the DSE is studied and its bias and variance are assessed. The methodology is applied to the 1986 Census of Central Los Angeles County in the Census Bureau's Test of Adjustment Related Operations. The methodology also will be useful to assess error in the DSE for the 1990 census as well as other applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-263
Number of pages23
JournalSurvey Methodology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1988


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation


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