NCAER organised an internal seminar titled, ‘User Beware: The promises and pitfalls of using tax data to study U.S. internal migration’ by Jack DeWaard, Scientific Director of Social and Behavioral Science Research, at The Population Council, New York, on Tuesday, 16 May 2023.
Jack DeWaard is Scientific Director of Social and Behavioral Science Research at the Population Council. Prior to joining the Population Council, he was an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Graduate Faculty of Population Studies in the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota. His research interests focus on migration systems and networks, climate and environmental migration and displacement, and inequality and incorporation.
In the Seminar, Dr DeWaard pointed out that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) makes publicly and freely available period migration data at the state and county levels. Among their uses, these data inform estimates of net-migration as part of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program, which, in turn, are used for producing other annual statistics, survey design, business and community planning, and federal funding allocations. In his talk, he detailed a highly concerning, apparently systemic, and presently unresolved problem with the IRS migration data since the IRS took over responsibilities for preparing these data from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2011. Unless and until this problem is addressed by the IRS, he concluded that the post-2011 data should not be used.