Home Census Rethink the way to count people in dormitories, prisons

Rethink the way to count people in dormitories, prisons


Following a 2020 census in which the pandemic made it difficult to access collective housing, Census Bureau officials said on Thursday they would reassess how they counted people living in dormitories, prisons and nursing homes in the next tally of every U.S. resident in 2030.

The Census Bureau will rethink how residents of collective neighborhoods are counted, although it is too early at this point to say how that will be done, Al Fontenot, associate director of the Census Bureau, told committee members. scientific advisory during a virtual meeting.

The pandemic hampered the Census Bureau’s ability to obtain information on these residents as students on campus were sent home when the pandemic began in the United States in March 2020, and prisons and nursing homes have been blocked from the spread of the coronavirus.

“Obviously, COVID-19 has had an impact on our operations, particularly the neighborhoods of the groups,” Michael Bentley, a Census Bureau official, told members of the Census Scientific Advisory Committee.

In some places, such as Alaska, Hawaii and the District of Columbia, information on the race of residents had originally remained blank in more than half of collective dwellings, a significant increase in recent decades. Nationally, this rate was 30.2%, up from 18.1% in 2010.

The increase in white responses for residents of collective neighborhoods “certainly raises eyebrows,” said Mario Marazzi, former executive director of the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics, a member of the advisory committee.

Although people living in collective neighborhoods make up a small portion of the overall population – less than 3% of the 331 million people living in the United States – any inaccurate information can have a significant impact on college towns or areas with a large prison population or an army base. This in turn can decrease representation in Congress and the amount of federal funding to which they are eligible.

The number of collective dwellings is under scrutiny this census because the Census Bureau, for the first time, decided in the middle of the numbers to use a last resort statistical technique called imputation to fill in the gaps in the numbers. data for dormitories, nursing homes and prisons. . The method has been used for some time to fill in missing information on individual households.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic to the 2020 census, Census Bureau officials told members of the scientific advisory committee that the quality of census data is comparable to that of data collected in 2010.

The Census Bureau is trying to assess which operational challenges in the 2020 census were due to the pandemic or simply due to regular operations. But one thing seems certain – residents of homes visited by enumerators were less likely to speak in 2020 than in 2010 due to the pandemic, Fontenot said.

“They tried to give them as few answers as possible to get them to leave,” Fontenot said. “In 2010 we might have had longer conversations. In that case you got a short response and the door closed. In many ways it was pandemic related. People had a lot. of resistance to talking to a stranger at their doorstep. “


Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP

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