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Q:  

I am considering using Geolytics Neighborhood Change Database for some longitudinal analyses that I am doing with death certificate data geocoded at the county level. However, I am a little unclear if the NCDB has info for nonmetro counties. The documentation is a bit confusing on this point. Could you advise?

A:  

The Neighborhood Change database is a census tract database, normalized to 2000 boundaries. Thus, it is not a good source for county level data.

The best bet for county-level summary data for the past is probably the NHGIS data out of the University of Minnesota:

http://www.nhgis.org

You need to establish an account and you'll get immediate access.

A couple of points about their system. . . .

They do not have a list of tables so you have to slog through some menu choices to find the table you want. Tables are not numbered so when you try to document which table you have used you are sort of stuck with a description of sex*age, which is ambiguous as there are lots of sex*age tables.

Nonetheless, you ought to be able to find the sort of tables you have used in 1990 and 2000.

One thing to note on the age*sex tables is that the cells do not come out in an age-based order:

0-4, 5-9, 10-14, etc. The order is relatively crazy so be sure and pay attention to the documentation.

Several other researchers have made work files based on geographically-based characteristics. County is one of the geographic levels. Check out the following from ICPSR:

4296 Great Plains Population and Environment Data: Social and
Demographic Data
9693 Census of Population and Housing, 1980 [United States]: Extract Data
9694 Census of Population and Housing, 1970 [United States]: Extract Data

These files are not likely to have the denominator data that you often use, but it might be an easier route for simple items like population size, education, poverty, etc.

For future reference, the extract data from the census (above) goes down to the census tract and zip code levels as well as counties. They are not normalized to 2000.

Finally, one last note is that there have been some county changes over time. Here is the link to the county and boundary changes since 1970:

http://www.census.gov/geo/reference/county-changes.html

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