NEWS5 April 2019

Census citizenship question would harm businesses, says Insights Association

Data analytics News North America Trends

US – Research industry organisation the Insights Association has joined a number of business groups to file a brief to the Supreme Court arguing against the inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 US census.

US census questionnaire

The organisation joined 24 other companies and business groups in filing an amicus brief – which organises information about a case to bring it to the court’s attention.

The companies and groups submitting the brief include Uber, Levi Strauss & Co, Ben & Jerry’s, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and TechNYC.

The addition of a citizenship question in the decennial census has been met with criticism from a number of organisations and various legal challenges since it was proposed in March last year. The case was recently referred to the Supreme Court following two federal judges ruling against the inclusion of the question.

The amicus brief argues that asking about respondents’ citizenship will negatively impact response rates, leading to inaccurate census data. As businesses use census data to inform and plan their strategies, this would “weaken the ability of business to adapt their marketing and outreach strategies to a changing population” and result in “wasted dollars for businesses and unwanted advertising for customers”.

David Almy, chief executive, Insights Association, said: “After years of under-funding and cancelled testing, adding a citizenship question without rigorous testing jeopardises the accuracy of the decennial census. While we can respect the many views surrounding this issue, our overriding and compelling interest is in the business effect of methodological and data quality, which this brief details.”

The brief also argues that the accuracy of census data “affects the quality of independent market research” as businesses also use census data to evaluate the quality of a dataset. “Inaccurate data will harm the development of insights for businesses and governments and misdirect or impede economic development across the country,” Almy said.

Oral arguments will be heard on 23rd April, with a ruling expected by the end of June.


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