NEWS9 May 2018

Congress urged to ask why census citizenship question is necessary

News North America Public Sector Trends

US – Market research industry organisation the Insights Association has urged Congress to “pay special attention” to the potential negative impact of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

US 2010 census_crop

In a statement submitted for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the decennial census yesterday ( 8 May), the Insights Assocation asked committee members to focus on how the Census Bureau will ensure count accuracy in rural and remote areas, as well as analyse why a citizenship question has been proposed for the census, and what its impact could be.  

“With the proposed addition of a question on citizenship to the decennial census questionnaire, we urge committee members to seek more information about why it is necessary to add without testing,” the statement, signed by Howard Fienberg, vice-president of advocacy at the Insights Association, read.

The purpose of the hearing was to examine ongoing preparations for the census, including the progress of the end-to-end test currently taking place in Rhode Island.

Adding a citizenship question to the census could deter legal or illegal immigrants from responding, leading to reduced headcount, the Insights Association said. This adds to existing concerns over rural headcount, with field testing for special counting procedures being cancelled in a number of areas due to lack of funding.

The statement added: “Without testing and with fewer respondents, the decennial headcount likely will be less accurate, less valuable and unnecessarily expensive. To ensure accuracy, the census requires the highest possible representation of our population. Every subsequent survey and study that intends to be statistically representative of the U.S. population will be built on decennial data, and any inaccuracies will be felt for at least a decade.”