, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 699–726 | Cite as

Recent Trends in Coverage of the Mexican-Born Population of the United States: Results From Applying Multiple Methods Across Time

  • Jennifer Van HookEmail author
  • Frank D. Bean
  • James D. Bachmeier
  • Catherine Tucker


The accuracy of counts of U.S. racial/ethnic and immigrant groups depends on the coverage of the foreign-born in official data. Because Mexicans constitute by far the largest single national-origin group among the foreign-born in the United States, we compile new evidence about the coverage of the Mexican-born population in the 2000 census and 2001–2010 American Community Survey (ACS) using three techniques: a death registration, a birth registration, and a net migration method. For the late 1990s and first half of the 2000–2010 decade, results indicate that coverage error was somewhat higher than currently assumed but had substantially declined by the latter half of the 2000–2010 decade. Additionally, we find evidence that U.S. census and ACS data miss substantial numbers of children of Mexican immigrants, as well as people who are most likely to be unauthorized: namely, working-aged Mexican immigrants (ages 15–64), especially males. The findings highlight the heterogeneity of the Mexican foreign-born population and the ways in which migration dynamics may affect population coverage.


Enumeration error Coverage error Mexican foreign-born 



This research benefited from grants from NICHD (P01 HD062498, RC2 HD064497) and the Science and Technology Directorate of DHS through the BORDERS Research Center at the University of Arizona, as well as from support from the Population Research Institute of Pennsylvania State University (R24HD041025) and the Center for Research on Immigration, Population and Public Policy at the University of California–Irvine. We express thanks to Agustín Escobar-Latapí, Michael Hoefer, Jeffrey Passel, and Nancy Rytina for advice and consultation.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Van Hook
    • 1
    Email author
  • Frank D. Bean
    • 2
  • James D. Bachmeier
    • 3
  • Catherine Tucker
    • 4
  1. 1.Population Research Institute and Department of SociologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.University of California, IrvineIrvineUSA
  3. 3.Temple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.The Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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