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The Validity of race and Hispanic origin reporting on death certificates in the United States : an update
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  • Description:
    Objectives This report presents the findings of an updated study of the validity of race and Hispanic-origin reporting on death certificates in the United States, and its impact on race- and Hispanic origin-specific death rates. Methods The latest version of the National Longitudinal Mortality Study (NLMS) was used to evaluate the classification of race and Hispanic origin on death certificates for deaths occurring in 1999–2011 to decedents in NLMS. To evaluate change over time, these results were compared with those of a study based on an earlier version of NLMS that evaluated the quality of race and ethnicity classification on death certificates for 1979–1989 and 1990–1998. NLMS consists of a series of annual Current Population Survey files (1973 and 1978–2011) and a sample of the 1980 decennial census linked to death certificates for 1979–2011. Pooled 2009–2011 vital statistics mortality data and 2010 decennial census population data were used to estimate and compare observed and corrected race- and Hispanic origin-specific death rates. Results Race and ethnicity reporting on death certificates continued to be highly accurate for both white and black populations during the 1999–2011 period. Misclassification remained high at 40% for the American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) population. It improved, from 5% to 3%, for the Hispanic population, and from 7% to 3% for the Asian or Pacific Islander (API) population. Decedent characteristics such as place of residence and nativity affected the quality of reporting on the death certificate. Effects of misclassification on death rates were large for the AIAN population but not significant for the Hispanic or API populations.

    Suggested citation: Arias E, Heron M, Hakes JK. The validity of race and Hispanic-origin reporting on death certificates in the United States: An update. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 2(172). 2016.

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