PA 533 Public Policy: Origins and Processes: Census Data

Guide to Dr. Corbett's Public Policy: Origins and Processes

Finding Census Data

Using Social Explorer

Begin by opening Social Explorer. You may be asked to log in with your PSU username and password.
On the left, select Tables.
SE will provide various options, each of which have strengths & weakness.

Decennial Census
Collected every ten years, these are the most accurate and have the lowest margin of error. Their sample size is (in theory) nearly 100% of the adult American population (in practice, it is more like 67%). Questions are fairly consistent over time. Data is not current as decade progresses.

ACS 5-yaer
Uses 60 months of collected data, covers all geographic areas (from block level to national), uses large sample size, very reliable data, only current for 5 year period, released annually. 

ACS 3-year
Uses 36 months of collected data, covers geographic areas of over 20k population, smaller sample set, last released 2013.

ACS 1-year
Uses 12 months of collected data, most current, questions are most timely, only covers areas with a population over 20k, small sample size, less reliable than larger studies,