Age-Linked Institutions and Age Reporting Among Older African Americans

Working paper number: 
95-05
Paper Abstract: 
With economic and technological development, numerical age became an important dimension of social differentiation in the United States. The vast majority of Americans now have the ability to report their own age and the ages of relatives with accuracy. Nevertheless, studies have found that age misreporting remains substantial for older African Americans. This paper describes levels of age misreporting and investigates the determinants of age reporting accuracy on the death certificates of a national sample of native-born African Americans aged 65+. Consistent with previous studies, levels of age misreporting are found to be high. When checked against childhood census records, only 53% of the death certificate ages are found to be correctly reported; slightly over 10% are misstated by five years or more. Multivariate results provide compelling evidence that the quality of age reporting critically depends on interaction with age-linked institutions.
Other Published Version(s): 

Hill, Mark E., Samuel H. Preston, Irma T. Elo, and Ira Rosenwaike. 1997. "Age-Linked Institutions and Age Reporting Among Older African Americans." Social Forces 75(3):1007-1030.