Possibly Inaccurate Age and Sex Data in the CPS ASEC PUMS Files

In April 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau acknowledged problems in the techniques it uses to prevent the identification of specific individuals in public-use microdata sample (PUMS) files. These techniques produced inconsistent sex ratios for people ages 65 and older in the PUMSs produced from the 2000 Census, the 2003-2006 American Community Survey, and the 2005-2006 Puerto Rican Community Survey. The 2003-2010 Current Population Survey ASEC PUMS files were also affected.

In December 2009, the Census Bureau released corrected age data for the 2006 ACS/PRCS. However, it will not release corrected CPS data because the error affects income and poverty estimates only slightly. For other variables, ASEC PUMS files for 2003-2010 may not be representative of the 65+ population at individual ages, and analyses of variables that are expected to change by age stand to be particularly affected.

For a full discussion of the problem and its implications for researchers, see:

Alexander, J. Trent, Michael Davern, and Betsey Stevenson. 2010. "Inaccurate Age and Sex Data in the Census PUMS Files: Evidence and Implications." National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 15703. U.S. Census Bureau User Note

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