My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘Pew’

Pew Research Center: 22% of NRFU based on proxy interviews is bad news for accuracy

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Despite yesterday’s claims by Robert M. Groves that the 2010 Census is accurate and trustworthy, the fact that 22% of NRFU interviews were done by proxies is scary. D’Vera Cohn writes the following:

As the 2010 Census information-gathering phase winds down and the Census Bureau turns to quality-checking and data-processing, Director Robert Groves offered some statistics at a recent operational briefing to assess how the national count has gone thus far. One indicator, the quality of the address list, appears to have improved since the 2000 Census. Another, the share of proxy interviews, has worsened.

The foundation of a good census is having a complete list of addresses because Americans are counted at their homes or the other places they are living. The quality of the address list is important in aiding census-takers who head out on follow-up visits to people who did not return their mailed-out questionnaires.

During the recent non-response follow-up operation, Groves said, census-takers found fewer non-existent addresses on their rounds in 2010 than their counterparts had in 2000. In 2000, 6 million non-existent addresses were deleted from the list because census-takers could not find them. In 2010, 4.1 million were deleted. During follow-up visits, census-takers also are supposed to look for addresses that are not on the official list, so they can be added. In 2010, Groves said, “we had fewer adds proportionately” compared with 2000, although he said this is not as much of a “hard quality indicator” because it could mean that census-takers did not follow procedures for including new addresses.

On another quality measure, Groves said census-takers who were trying to collect information at addresses from which census forms were not received had to rely more heavily on neighbors and building managers than was the case during the 2000 Census. In 2000, about 17% of follow-up interviews were from proxies, not from the householders themselves, compared with 22% in 2010. This is of concern because proxy data traditionally has been less accurate than information that people provide about themselves. Groves said “this fits the expectation we had with regard to the cooperation of the American public.” Some people were never home during repeated visits by census-takers; others refused to provide information about themselves.

Poll: Public Attitudes Toward US Census Improving

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

H/t to the Associated Press and the Pew Research Center for the following:

WASHINGTON (AP) — With the 2010 census under way, about 1 in 10 people may not participate in the population count, with many saying they see little personal benefit from the government survey or have concerns that it may be intrusive, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The Pew Research Center poll shows marked improvement in public interest since January. At that time a poll showed 1 in 5 might not mail back the census form. Still, the new poll highlighted lingering apathy toward the head count, particularly among young adults.

”There is an increased commitment to participating in the census, but disparities remain,” said Michael Dimock, an associate director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. ”These include groups who have less-certain economic situations and who are often more mobile, which poses a challenge for the census count.”

The poll comes as more than 120 million census forms arrive in mailboxes this week. The population count, conducted every 10 years, is used to distribute U.S. House seats and more than $400 billion in federal aid.

Stephen Buckner, a spokesman for the Census Bureau, said the increase in overall public awareness was heartening, noting that the government can save $1.5 billion in follow-up visits if everyone mails back their forms.

Buckner said for those who remain apathetic or reluctant to turn in their forms, the bureau will be closely monitoring mail participation rates and will increase advertising and outreach in the regions of the country that are lagging, including college campuses.

Beginning in May, the Census Bureau will also send census-takers to visit homes that do not return their forms.

”We’re aware students are historically harder to count, and we are putting things in place to get an accurate count,” he said.

Overall, nearly all of those surveyed by Pew were familiar with the census. About 87 percent reported they had already filled out their 10-question form, or definitely or probably would do so, often citing reasons that it was ”important” or a civic duty.

Still, a majority of the people said they saw little personal gain from the census (62 percent) or expressed uncertainty as to whether the government was asking for more information than it really needed (55 percent). Many also said they still weren’t confident that census information would be kept confidential and not be shared with other federal agencies for law enforcement, despite repeated assurances from Census Bureau director Robert Groves.

Broken down by age, adults 18-29 were least likely to say they would definitely or probably participate, at 71 percent. That’s compared to 86 percent for adults 30-49; 92 percent for those 50-64; and 89 percent for people 65 and older.

Hispanics also were less likely to participate compared to other racial groups, although that gap has narrowed since January.

Pew interviewed 1,500 adults by cell or home phone from March 10-14. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, higher for subgroups.

Philadelphia Lags Behind in 2010 Census Preparation Activities

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Hmmmm…maybe Philly Mayor Michael Nutter was either too busy dealing with Philly’s fiscal crisis or just not as committed to the 2010 Census as he claimed to be at a Senate hearing in April. Thanks to the Pew Charitable Trust for producing such a comprehensive report:

PEW REPORT EXAMINES CENSUS PREPARATIONS IN PHILADELPHIA

AND OTHER MAJOR CITIES

Philadelphia Lagging Behind Others in Preparation Activities

A new study from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative finds that Philadelphia is lagging behind other major cities in mounting the kind of local outreach and awareness campaign for the 2010 Census that many experts consider important for achieving a full count.

The studyPreparing for the 2010 Census: How Philadelphia and Other Cities Are Struggling and Why It Matters, looked at the preparations of Philadelphia and 10 other major cities for the 2010 Census. These include the five cities with larger populations than Philadelphia—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Phoenix—and five chosen for their similarities to Philadelphia and their experience in dealing with the Census—Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit and Pittsburgh.

The report finds that almost all of the cities studied have less money and fewer staffers for this Census than they did in 2000.

“Census preparation really matters,” said Thomas Ginsberg, project manager of Pew’s Philadelphia Research Initiative. “The outreach efforts are a cross between an election campaign and a municipal self-promotion drive, with very real ramifications that will be felt for the next 10 years.”

Philadelphia officials are planning to announce their local outreach campaign soon. And officials interviewed for the study say they are confident of their ability to catch up and conduct an effective outreach effort. In addition, they have launched the city’s first-ever challenge to the official population estimates the U.S. Census Bureau issues each year. The challenge, if fully accepted by the bureau, would produce a number showing that Philadelphia’s population is now growing after six decades of decline.

Seven of the other 10 cities had appointed or hired Census coordinators by last summer and had launched their citywide coordinating committees by early October. The other three—Boston, Chicago and Detroit—already are lined up to receive considerable financial and organizing support from local and statewide donor networks established specifically for the Census.

Preparing for the 2010 Census lays out what is at stake for cities: Without strong outreach and technical preparation by cities, the Census Bureau may have trouble improving its urban counts over previous Censuses and raising the below-average rate at which residents participate in its official once-a-decade count. That could lead to greater undercounts of certain groups or an entire city, which in turn would affect the population basis on which billions of tax dollars will be distributed over the coming decade and by which legislative seats—federal, state and local—will be allocated in 2011.

The stakes are particularly high in Philadelphia and other big cities that have high concentrations of the hard-to-count groups, including renters, immigrants, African Americans and Hispanics. According to an analysis conducted for the Philadelphia Research Initiative by Temple University statistician Eugene P. Ericksen, the Census Bureau likely undercounted Philadelphia’s population by an estimated 8,326 people a decade ago, or about 0.5 percent. Many of the other cities included in the report had similar or larger estimated undercounts.

About $430 billion in federal funds were distributed to local governments and residents in fiscal 2008, the last year for which such numbers are available, based at least in part on Census data. Analysts at the Brookings Institution say that Philadelphia and its residents received about $2,796 per capita, through Medicaid, housing vouchers, transportation funding and other programs. Due to the ways that the funding formulas work, the amount of money that would be generated by counting additional Philadelphians would be less than $2,796. But how much less is hard to say. It would depend on numerous factors, including the demographic characteristics of the individuals.

Apart from outreach campaigns, the study found that all 11 cities, including Philadelphia, have been participating in the voluntary technical Census Bureau programs that many experts consider more important to achieving a full count. The programs include a massive updating of household addresses, through which the cities submitted more than 1.5 million new or corrected addresses for the bureau to target next spring.

“For Philadelphia, a significant impact of the Census results could be in terms of the city’s psyche and its ability to promote itself. The city would get a lift if the headcount in 2010—or the challenge being launched over the recent population estimates—shows a population gain,” said Ginsberg. The count in 2000 was 1,517,550, and the most recent estimate was 1,447,395. The city’s challenge contends the recent figure should have been 1,536,171, higher than either previous figure. The Census Bureau is expected to rule on the city’s figure by the end of 2009. Pew’s research found that many cities have no plans to appropriate any public funds specifically for Census preparations; this is the case in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh, although all of those cities, including Philadelphia, expect to make use of existing staff and resources with some staff help from the Census Bureau. A decade ago, the city put in $200,000 and received $165,000 in philanthropic donations.

The shortfalls are leading many cities to rely on unpaid volunteers and grassroots organizing even more than in the past. City officials in Philadelphia are still hoping to receive funds from private sources. The William Penn Foundation has committed $12,350 for data analysis; city and Census Bureau officials held an initial briefing with other potential local funders in late September.

About the Report

To prepare this report, Thomas Ginsberg, project manager of Pew’s Philadelphia Research Initiative, studied numerous reports about the Census and talked to officials at the Census Bureau, independent experts and officials in Philadelphia and the 10 other cities. The report includes independent work done by Eugene P. Ericksen of Temple University, a nationally-recognized expert in assessing the accuracy of the Census, and by the Brookings Institution.

About The Philadelphia Research Initiative

The Philadelphia Research Initiative was created by Pew in fall 2008 to study critical issues facing Philadelphia and provide impartial research and analysis for the benefit of decision makers, the news media and the public. The initiative conducts public opinion polling, produces in-depth reports, and publishes briefs that illuminate front-and-center issues.

About Pew

The Pew Charitable Trusts (www.pewtrusts.org) is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. We partner with a diverse range of donors, public and private organizations and concerned citizens who share our commitment to fact-based solutions and goal-driven investments to improve society.