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SAGE Publications
Exploring the U.S. Census: Your Guide to America's Data / Edition 1

Exploring the U.S. Census: Your Guide to America's Data / Edition 1

by Francis P. Donnelly
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The United States census provides researchers, students, and the public with some of the richest and broadest information available about the American people. Exploring the U.S. Census by Frank Donnelly gives social science students and researchers alike the tools to understand, extract, process, and analyze data from the decennial census, the American Community Survey, and other data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. More than just a data collection exercise performed every ten years, the census is a series of datasets updated on an ongoing basis. With all that data comes opportunities and challenges: opportunities to teach students the value of census data for studying communities and answering research questions, and the challenges of navigating and comprehending such a massive data source and transforming it into usable information that students and researchers can analyze with basic skills and software. Just as important as showing what the census can tell social researchers is showing how to ask good questions of census data. Exploring the U.S. Census provides a thorough background on the data collection methods, structures, and potential pitfalls of the census for unfamiliar researchers, collecting information previously available only in widely disparate sources into one handy guide. Hands-on, applied exercises at the end of the chapters help readers dive into the data.

The first chapter of the book places the census into context, discussing the history and the role of the census in society as well as in the larger universe of government, open, and big data. The book then moves onto the essentials of the data structure including the variety of sources and searching mechanisms, geography from nation down to zip code, and the fundamental subject categories (social, economic, and geographic) that are used for summarizing data in all of the various datasets.

The next section delves into the individual datasets, discussing the purpose and structure of each, with separate chapters devoted to the decennial census, ACS, Population Estimates Program, and business datasets. A final chapter for this section pulls everything together, with a focus on writing and presenting your research on the data.

The final section covers advanced topics and applications including mapping, geographic information systems, creating new variables and measures from census data, historical census data, and microdata.

Along the way, the author shows how best to analyze census data with open-source software and tools, such as QGIS geographic information system, Libre Office® Calc, and the DB Browser for SQLite®. Readers can freely evaluate the data on their own computers, in keeping with the free and open data provided by the Census Bureau. By placing the census in the context of the open data movement, this text makes the history and practice of the census relevant so readers can understand what a crucial resource the United States census is for research and knowledge.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781544355429
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Publication date: 11/20/2019
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 264,939
Product dimensions: 7.38(w) x 9.12(h) x (d)

About the Author

Frank Donnelly is a geospatial information professional whose practice blends the service-based and organizational skills of an academic librarian with the subject knowledge and analytical methods of a researcher. He has served as the Geospatial Data Librarian at Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY) in midtown Manhattan since 2007, where he helps members of his university navigate geospatial and census data sources. He holds the rank of Associate Professor in the library and manages a GIS lab where he and his graduate students: provide research consultations, teach workshops, process and create data, and maintain a repository of GIS data. Frank was an early proponent of free and open source GIS software in academia and has introduced hundreds of people to GIS through his workshops and tutorial manual. He has written several academic articles, technical papers, and reports that utilize census data to study socio-economic and demographic trends and provide information to researchers and policy makers. Prior to becoming a librarian he worked as a planner and data analyst in the government and non-profit sectors. He holds Masters Degrees in Library and Information Science from the University of Washington, and Geography from the University of Toronto. You can follow him at his blog At These Coordinates:

Table of Contents

1. Placing the Census in Context
1.1 What is Census Data?
1.2 Application of Census Data
1.3 Role of the Census in American Society
1.4 Criticism of the Census
1.6 Conclusion and Next Steps
2. Dive into the Data
2.1 Introducing
2.2 First Steps in Data Exploration
2.3 Chart a Clear Path with Advanced Search
2.4 Other Sources for Census Data
2.5 Census Research Reports
2.6 Review Questions and Practice Exercises
3. Census Geography
3.1 Geography Matters
3.2 Census Geography Hierarchy
3.3 The Primary Trunk
3.4 Exploring Census Geography with TIGERweb
3.5 Other Geographies - The Branches
3.6 Revisiting TIGERweb
3.7 Geographic Reference
3.8 Review Questions and Practice Exercises
4. Subject Characteristics
4.1 The Census Universe
4.2 Residency
4.3 Population Characteristics
4.4 Housing Unit Characteristics
4.5 The Labor Force
4.6 Derived Measures
4.7 Exercises
4.8 Review Questions and Practice Exercises
5. The Decennial Census
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The Census in the 21st Century
5.3 The Data Collection Process
5.4 Decennial Census Data
5.5 Exercises
5.6 Review Questions and Practice Exercises
6. The American Community Survey
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Fundamentals of the ACS
6.3 ACS Variables
6.4 Exercises
6.5 Review Questions and Practice Exercises
7. Population Estimates Program
7.1 Introduction
7.2 PEP Fundamentals
7.3 PEP Datasets and Variables
7.4 Applications for PEP Data
7.5 Exercises
7.6 Review Questions and Practice Exercises
8. Business Datasets
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Navigating Industries with NAICS
8.3 Data for Business Establishments
8.4 Labor Force Statistics
8.5 Exercises
8.6 Review Questions and Practice Exercises
9. Integrating Census Data into Research
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Writing With Census Data
9.3 Making Geographic Decisions
9.4 National Trends and Historical Context
9.5 Review Questions and Practice Exercises
10. Mapping and GIS
10.1 Introduction
10.2 Creating Maps Online
10.3 Introduction to GIS
10.4 GIS Exercise
10.5 Review Questions and Practice Exercises
11. Census Data Derivatives
11.1 Introduction
11.2 Measures of Population Distribution
11.3 Measures of Income and Inequality
11.4 Means and Medians for Aggregates
11.5 Geographic Derivatives
11.6 Review Questions and Practice Exercises
12. Historical Data and Microdata
12.1 Introduction
12.2 Historical Census Data
12.3 Microdata
12.4 In Conclusion - What Next?
12.5 Review Questions and Practice Exercises

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