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Counting snowbirds: The importance of and the problems with estimating seasonal populations


Using the example of the seasonal population of ``snowbirds'' that spend the winter in Arizona and other Sunbelt states, this paper examines the issues involved with estimating temporary populations. Specifically using the experience of ASU's ongoing research efforts on Arizona snowbirds, the paper discusses some of the problems associated with estimating a seasonal population – in particular: (1) defining the population under study and (2) developing effective procedures to collect information relating to the population. The concluding section emphasizes the growing national importance of temporary populations and the needs of both the public and private sector to have better information on both their size and characteristics.

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Happel, S.K., Hogan, T.D. Counting snowbirds: The importance of and the problems with estimating seasonal populations. Population Research and Policy Review 21, 227–240 (2002).

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  • population estimates
  • seasonal migration
  • temporary populations