In Depth2020 U.S. Census

Census citizenship question is dropped, but challenges linger

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Science  19 Jul 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6450, pp. 211
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6450.211

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Summary

President Donald Trump's decision last week to forgo a citizenship question on the U.S. census lets the Census Bureau disappear from the headlines and resume preparations for next spring's decennial head count. But the agency still faces a major statistical challenge in pulling off the 2020 census. Officials say tapping information in administrative records—the vast files kept by other government agencies, including Social Security, tax, and health records—will save billions by shrinking the number of field workers used to track down those households that have not already responded. The Census Bureau also expects to do more whole-person imputation to predict the characteristics, such as sex and age, of people believed to be living at a specific address who haven't responded. However, neither imputation nor administrative records have ever been used on such a large scale for the U.S. census.

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