Kirk M. Wolter

Kirk M. Wolter Chief Statistician and Executive Vice President of Statistics and Methodology

Center for Excellence in Survey Research

Ph.D., Statistics, Iowa State University

​Kirk M. Wolter is Chief Statistician and Executive Vice President of Statistics and Methodology and a Senior Fellow at NORC and Professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Chicago. He is generally responsible for the methods of design and analysis used in NORC proposals and projects and for the NORC corporate research and development enterprise.

Wolter is an internationally recognized expert in survey statistics and methods.  He is the author of the book Introduction to Variance Estimation, which is widely read and cited  around the world by survey practitioners and theoreticians, and of dozens of journal articles, including "Reliability of the Uncertified Ballots in the 2000 Presidential Election  in  Florida,"  The  American Statistician,  2003 (with  Jergovic,  D.,  Moore,  W., Murphy, J., and O'Muircheartaigh, C.).

Wolter  has  led  or  participated  in  designing  many  of  America's largest  and  most important information systems, including the Current Business Surveys, the Current Employment Statistics  program, the Current  Population  Survey, the 1980 and  1990 Decennial Censuses of Population and Housing, the Consumer Price Index, the Economic Censuses, the National Resources Inventory, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, and the National Immunization Survey.  He also led the conversion of major market research surveys to scanning-based methods, both in America and in many parts of Western Europe.

Before joining NORC in 1994, Wolter was Vice President, Statistical Design Worldwide for the A.C. Nielsen Co., where he had executive accountability for statistical methodology in 30 countries.  Before he joined Nielsen, Wolter worked for 14 years at the U.S. Census Bureau, culminating in his role as Chief of the Statistical Research Division. There he led research programs in areas such as statistics, mathematics, geographic information systems, computer technology, and various social science disciplines. Concurrent with the Census post, Wolter served as Adjunct Professor at George Washington University. In 2002-03, he founded and directed the Interdisciplinary Research Institute for Survey Science at Iowa State University.

Wolter is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, an Elected Member of the International Statistical Institute, a past President of the International Association of Survey Statisticians, and a past Chair of the Survey Research Methods Section of the American Statistical Association.

Representative Projects

NORC Florida Ballots Project. ​In 2000, approximately 180,000 ballots in Florida’s 67 counties were uncertified because they failed to register a “valid” vote for President. These ballots included those in which no vote was recorded (undervotes) and those in which people voted for more than one candidate (overvotes). NORC examined the undervotes and overvotes. More

The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey. The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS), since its inception in 1991, has been an invaluable source of information for administering the Medicare program, estimating health care expenditures and sources of payment outlays for beneficiaries (including both Medicare covered and non-covered services), and creating a more-nuanced understanding of the health status of  beneficiaries and of how program changes impact health status. It is the leading source of information about the Medicare program and plays an essential role in monitoring and evaluating key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  More

2012 NORC Presidential Election Study. The 2012 NORC Presidential Election Study was conducted in the weeks prior to the Presidential election to measure public opinion about important issues the country faces – economic recovery, health care costs, and extreme partisanship. More

2010 National Sample Frame. U.S. households are the primary unit for sample selection for many studies, but sample frames for households can be difficult and expensive to create. In order to provide a sample frame for use by many surveys, NORC has constructed the 2010 National Sample Frame, based on the 2010 Census information. This sample is representative of over 99% of U.S. households and provides a listing of almost 3 million households, including over 80,000 rural households. More

National Survey of Early Care and Education. The NSECE will gather information from multiple sources to provide rich data on the types of providers of early care and education, as well as the needs, constraints and preferences of families with children age 13 and under as they seek and use non-parental care for their children. More


Press Release NORC at the University of Chicago Announces Senior Staff Promotions and Formation of New Business Unit More
Posted: 1.27.2014 3:32PM
Press Release NORC Survey of Americans’ Views on Deficit More
Posted: 12.18.2012 3:28PM
News UChicago News: How partisan politics shapes our voting, with data and findings from the 2012 NORC Presidential Election Survey, and commentary from Expert Kirk Wolter More
Posted: 11.16.2012 4:36PM
Press Release NORC Survey of the American People Reveals Party Affiliation Shapes Beliefs about Key Political and Non-Political Issues More
Posted: 11.9.2012 7:47AM
Press Release NORC Awarded Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Contract to Conduct the National Immunization Survey More
Posted: 8.21.2012 10:07AM


Kirk M. Wolter

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