The Use of Census Bureau Official Population Estimates and Projections in Policy Design and Program Implementation
Signe I. Wetrogan, U.S. Census Bureau
Lisa M. Blumerman, U.S. Census Bureau
The Population Division of the US Census Bureau prepares annual estimates of the population for the nation, states, counties, and functioning governmental units. These estimates are used for a variety of purposes including the allocation of federal funds, as denominators for statistical indicators, as population controls for various federal surveys including the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey, and as tools in public and private policy and program planning. This paper will examine the major users of the population estimates including the federal programs that use population estimates in whole or in part to allocate program funds to subnational governmental units and to set thresholds for program eligibility. Recognizing that the use of estimates in policy decisions is not straightforward, the paper will identify the issues that arise when attempting to merge the constraints and limitations of demographically defensible population estimates with real program and policy needs.