In DepthDemography

Plan for 2020 U.S. census is fatally flawed, critics say

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Science  20 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6386, pp. 250-251
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6386.250

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A plan by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to ensure a "complete and accurate" 2020 census is seriously flawed, say former agency officials and other experts in survey research. The problem lies not simply with Ross's controversial, eleventh-hour decision last month to add a citizenship question to the decennial census, although civil rights groups, local and state governments, and business leaders believe the question will depress participation and jeopardize an accurate head count in 2020. Ross has also ordered the Census Bureau to expand its use of administrative records, the massive amount of information that other government agencies already possess on U.S. residents. The two-pronged strategy, Ross wrote in a 26 March memo explaining his decision, will "maximize" the bureau's ability to carry out its constitutionally mandated requirement to conduct an accurate head count. But social scientists say that's a mission impossible, at least in the 2 years before Census Day.