Abstract

We estimate the size of the African American population in five-year age groups at census dates from 1930 to 1990 using a three-part strategy. For cohorts born after 1935, we follow the U.S. Census Bureau in using classical demographic analysis. To estimate the size of cohorts born before 1895, we use extinct-generation estimates. For remaining cohorts, we implement an age/period/cohort model of census counts. All approaches are applied to a data set in which the age distribution of deaths has been corrected for age misreporting. Results provide strong confirmation of the basic validity of Census Bureau estimates of census undercounts for African Americans while extending estimates to new cohorts and periods. Our estimates are less consistent with an historical series prepared by Coale and Rives (1973).

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