Census 2020: Census Bureau Staff Weigh in on Citizenship Question

The Center for Economic Studies, a component of the U.S. Census Bureau, released an August 2018 report examining discrepancies when collecting citizenship data via various survey-based or administrative records.

This report comes on the heels of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s proposal to add a  question about citizenship status to the 2020 decennial status.   As explained in more detail here , adding that question is certain to result in an undercount of the U.S. population, contrary to the census’s purpose to count everyone in the U.S regardless of status.

The report’s timely takeaway:

The evidence in this paper also suggests that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census would lead to lower self-response rates in households potentially containing noncitizens, resulting in higher fieldwork costs and a lower-quality population count.

The Commerce Department received nearly 79,000 comments concerning how it plans to conduct the 2020 Census, and litigation is ongoing challenging the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Census.   Hopefully appropriate weight will be given to the conclusions of the Census Bureau’s own staff in the new report.