Demographic Data on Elders from Diverse Ethnic Populations

Sources of U.S. Data and their Limitations

  1. Federal Census Data
    1. LIMITATION: Traditionally undercounts ethnic subpopulations
    2. LIMITATION: Federally defined minority categories used in most analyses (American Indian and Alaska Native; Asians; Pacific Islanders; Black or African American; Hispanic or Latino) lump different populations together making data on individual ethnic groups (e.g., Chinese American, Navajo, Mexican American) difficult to access.
    3. LIMITATION: Differentiating race and ethnicity: Overlap and confusion between the racial categories used in census data (American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian; Pacific Islander; Black; and White) and Hispanic, which is an ethnic category; individuals in Hispanic category can be of any race and are counted in those categories as well unless the data is labeled “non-Hispanic” (e.g., non-Hispanic White).
    4. Demographic characteristics available include age, gender, housing, income/poverty, marital status, living arrangements, education, language spoken at home, and English fluency.
  2. Other Sources
    1. National Data Sets from Government Sources
      1. National Health Interview
      2. Health Care Financing Administration
      3. Social Security Administration
    2. National Data Sets from Individual Organizations
      1. AARP Surveys
      2. University of Michigan Institute for Social Research
    3. LIMITATION: Community or regional data sets are extremely varied based on the size of the sample and the quality of the research.
    4. LIMITATION: Immigration and Naturalization Service provide only immigration data.
    5. National Vital Statistics System provides data on births and deaths.