Population scientists, including demographers, economists, and sociologists, rely on data collected and disseminated by the U.S. Census Bureau to inform their scientific and applied research and research training activities on a wide range of topics, including mortality, fertility, social determinants of health, child and adolescent development, aging, migration, education, retirement, and post-disaster resiliency. Therefore, the Population Association of America (PAA) and Association of Population Centers (APC) prioritize support for the U.S. Census Bureau and its surveys, including the decennial census.
Every decennial census reports undercounts and overcounts. However, national-level results from the 2020 Census Post Enumeration Survey (PES) confirm historic undercount percentages that exceed the outcome of previous decennial censuses. The undercount of communities of color, especially Latinos, is especially alarming. In addition, the net undercount of young children in the 2020 Census (5.4%) is the highest since the Census Bureau begin tracking this measure in 1950.
The substantial differences in accuracy of subsequent state-level PES results illustrate the profound consequences these undercounts have for ensuring the fair allocation of federal funding. More detailed demographic and operational data below the state level are needed to fully analyze the national and state-level PES results. Our organizations urge the Bureau to provide data that help explain the PES results and to make these data available to the public.
PAA and APC support the Census Bureau’s commitment to exploring potential remedies to mitigate the impact of the 2020 Census undercounts. We urge the Census Bureau to consider how the implementation of any remedies could affect future population estimates and 2020 Decennial data products. We support the Bureau’s pledge to developing methods to improve the conduct of future censuses and surveys. In all of these instances, our organizations urge the Census Bureau to work with stakeholders and expert users in devising solutions. In return, our organizations reaffirm our support to work with the Census Bureau to achieve an accurate, inclusive 2030 Census, building on the experience of the 2020 Census.
Dr. Sonalde Desai
President, Population Association of America
Dr. Sara R. Curran
President, Association of Population Centers