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Exploring the U.S. Census

Exploring the U.S. Census
Your Guide to America’s Data

November 2019 | 464 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Exploring the U.S. Census 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. Donnelly's text 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.

Along the way, the author shows how best to analyze census data with open-source software and tools. 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 census is for research and knowledge.

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



This text covers the tools you need to identify, access, and evaluate census data. When you are done, you will know enough about the census to select data that fits your use case, identify the tools that best fit your project, and be able to use these tools to explore, summarize and analyze your data. I think this text will be a great tool for anyone interested in working with census data.

Dr. Stephanie Deitrick
Arizona State University

The most comprehensive source book on the subject that will be invaluable for anyone doing research using census data.

A. Victor Ferreros
Florida State University

It is interesting and easy to read and compiles information together that I often have a hard time gathering before covering the census in my course. I feel much more prepared just having read this draft. I teach geography and students make extensive use of census data, but don't have a good understanding of where it comes from and its possibilities and limitations. While reading the book, I was considering teaching our census data class that has been on the shelf for a while. I was inspired by the text to offer it!

Anne M. Mahar
Arcadia University

This is a much-needed text that will help students, researchers, and practitioners understand and properly use census data.

Lee Hachadoorian
Temple University

This text is a welcome, comprehensive introduction to working with and understanding Census Data.

Hugh Bartling
DePaul University

This is a most comprehensive guidebook to the use of the Census. The author's experience is invaluable.

Elizabeth C. Delmelle
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

This is a great practical book for navigating the largest public open data site - the US Census.

Julie Jones
Journalism and Mass Communication, University Of Oklahoma
August 13, 2020

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