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NCVS Subnational Estimates



The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is the nation's primary source of information on criminal victimization. Learn more about the NCVS here.

The NCVS was originally designed to provide national-level estimates of criminal victimization. Since its inception in 1973, BJS has recognized the need for victimization data at the state and/or local levels. The three major reviews of the NCVS program point to the demand from local criminal justice administrators for empirical information and data on crime that they can use to inform policy and practice.

Interest in subnational victimization data is met with practical limitations in producing these data. A complex household survey, the NCVS involves about 240,000 interviews on criminal victimization, with 150,000 unique persons each year. Administration of the NCVS to produce reliable national-level estimates is costly and can potentially involve the risk of disclosing sensitive information. These challenges are amplified in producing estimates for lower levels of geography. Options for producing subnational victimization data through the NCVS require careful consideration.

Accordingly, BJS crafted plans to produce subnational crime data through multiple strategies and responses and supported research demonstrating that the NCVS can be enhanced to produce several types of subnational estimates. BJS has worked with various partners to develop these strategies for producing estimates:

  1. Boosting and reallocating the NCVS sample in the most populous states to obtain direct state-level estimates
  2. Obtaining direct estimates in subnational areas using reweighting methods and existing NCVS data collected under the national design
  3. Modeling state-level estimates using existing NCVS sample and external data
  4. Creating generic areas with geocoded identifiers
  5. Generating a cost-effective alternative local-area survey based on the NCVS for direct administration within subnational areas.

The relative benefits and limitations of Approaches to Subnational Estimation with the NCVS are summarized below.

Direct Subnational Estimates: Sample Boost and Reallocation; Reweighted Historical Data; and Generate Estimates

Direct Subnational Estimates

Beginning in 2016, BJS increased the size of the NCVS core sample in the 22 most populous states, based on preliminary findings from a boost pilot test. At the same time, BJS adjusted the allocation of the sample as needed within these 22 states to enhance the representativeness of the NCVS sample relative to the population within each of these states. Together, these changes were designed to enable production of state-level estimates of violent victimization for the 22 states and specific metropolitan areas within those states with three years of aggregated data. See NCVS sample design and redesign. The 22 states identified for state-level estimates are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.


BJS Direct Subnational Estimation Through the NCVS Timeline that covers 2010 through 2026.

After careful examination and validation of the redesigned NCVS sample and initial state-level NCVS estimates, BJS has released the first-ever comprehensive report featuring data for the 22 most populous states. Approved researchers can now request access to the state-level NCVS data. See Direct Sample Boost and Reallocation below for more information. See forthcoming publications for information on planned future releases.



Date Created: March 25, 2022