The Grouped Answer Method for Estimating Immigration Status: Analysis of Data from the 2004 General Social Survey

  • Eric M. Larson
  • Judith A. Droitcour
Part of the Applied Demography Series book series (ADS, volume 2)


This paper analyzes foreign-born respondents’ acceptance and understanding of a question on their immigration status asked in a 2004 household survey of the general population aged 18 or older. The question uses an innovative “grouped answer” method that was devised earlier by the Government Accountability Office to reduce question threat. Questions aimed at estimating all immigration statuses—including foreign-born respondents who are illegally present in the United States; that is, undocumented—have, in general, been deemed too threatening to ask in a federal survey of the general population. The goal of devising, testing, and developing a method for collecting survey data on immigration status is to improve the federal government’s capacity to provide policy-makers with information on the foreign-born population, including those who are illegally present or undocumented. Five main sections of this paper cover (1) background, (2) determination of eligible respondents, (3) respondents’ answers to key questions, (4) interviewers’ judgments and written-in comments, and (5) discussion of results.


Immigration Status Usable Information General Social Survey American Community Survey Eligible Respondent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Applied Research and MethodsU.S. Government Accountability OfficeWashingtonUSA

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