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Using the Poisson Distribution for Estimating Households by Household Size

Beth Jarosz

No v67k9, OSF Preprints from Center for Open Science

Abstract: Infrastructure planners often require detail about the number of households by household size at very small levels of geography (census tract or smaller) to calibrate their models. In addition, these data must also be projected into the future in order to support planning efforts. This paper documents a statistical technique for estimating the distribution of households by household size using a modified application of the Poisson distribution. This technique is valuable to demographers as it provides a simple and reliable tool for estimating the distribution of household sizes at nearly any level of geography for a given point in time. There are a wide variety of applications of the Poisson distribution in biology and engineering. However, there are only few documented applications in demographics. This article puts forth two key advancements over prior published work: (1) an entirely new, and greatly simplified method for applying the distribution, (2) evidence of the reliability of the technique for estimating household size distributions in small geographic areas (e.g. counties and census tracts). Tests on U.S. Census data (1990-2010) suggest that the model is suitable for use in estimating the distribution of households by household size at the state, county, and census tract level.

Date: 2017-07-13
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DOI: 10.31219/

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