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Details:
  • Pubmed ID:
    10611854
  • Description:
    OBJECTIVES: This report provides a summary of current knowledge and research on the quality and reliability of death rates by race and Hispanic origin in official mortality statistics of the United States produced by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). It also provides a quantitative assessment of bias in death rates by race and Hispanic origin. It identifies areas for targeted research.

    METHODS: Death rates are based on information on deaths (numerators of the rates) from death certificates filed in the states and compiled into a national database by NCHS, and on population data (denominators) from the Census Bureau. Selected studies of race/Hispanic-origin misclassification and under coverage are summarized on deaths and population. Estimates are made of the separate and the joint bias on death rates by race and Hispanic origin from the two sources. Simplifying assumptions are made about the stability of the biases over time and among age groups. Original results are presented using an expanded and updated database from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study.

    RESULTS: While biases in the numerator and denominator tend to offset each other somewhat, death rates for all groups show net effects of race misclassification and under coverage. For the white population and the black population, published death rates are overstated in official publications by an estimated 1.0 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively, resulting principally from undercounts of these population groups in the census. Death rates for the other minority groups are understated in official publications approximately as follows: American Indians, 21 percent; Asian or Pacific Islanders, 11 percent; and Hispanics, 2 percent. These estimates do not take into account differential misreporting of age among the race/ethnic groups.

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