Using Consulate Data to Estimate the Foreign-Born Haitian Population
*Linda Marc, Harvard School of Public Health
Keywords: Foreign-born, Population estimtes, Consulates
Foreign-born populations have often been blamed for introducing infectious diseases (e.g., AIDS) into the United States. However, because the foreign-born are considered ‘hard-to-count' populations the Census Bureau acknowledges that figures from the American Community Survey (ACS) may underestimate the actual number of foreign-born persons in the US. This is relevant because ACS data are often used as denominators to generate disease rates. Hence the underestimate may inadvertently inflate the disease rate for the foreign-born group resulting in stigmatization. Therefore, this project highlights the importance of having accurate denominators to estimate disease rates amongst the foreign-born. The analysis uses AIDS surveillance data from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention to examine the AIDS rate amongst Haitian immigrants. Their AIDS rate is compared using denominators from postcensal estimates, the American Community Survey (ACS), and from Haitian Consulates located in the United States. Using ACS data as denominators, results showed there was a seven-fold overrepresentation of AIDS among Haitian immigrants compared to the US population as a whole. But when figures from Haitian consulates were used, that over-representation of AIDS cases fell to four-fold. These findings suggest that Haitian immigrants are likely to be undercounted by American census takers, particularly if they are not in the country legally. In contrast, denominator estimates provided by Haitian consulates are larger because they are based on the number of consular services performed for Haitians throughout the US (e.g., request for passports, birth certificates, etc.); and derived from the number of Haitians attending events sponsored by the Consulates in major cities throughout the US. Therefore, this case example highlights that Consulates may be an alternative source, providing population estimates of the foreign-born living in the US.