An Evaluation of Census 2010 Coverage in Rural Areas of California with High Concentrations of ImmigrantsView Presentation
*Edward Kissam, JBS International
Keywords: undercount, immigrant households, MAF, NRFU, Spanish-language form
Differential undercount is a crucial issue affecting the reliability of socioeconomic profiles of minorities throughout the U.S. Based on a post-census survey of 423 households, the paper estimates 2010 undercount in hard-to-count tracts in ten rural California counties with concentrations of seasonal farmworkers. It also assesses the extent to which enhanced 2010 operational strategies (targeted mailing of Spanish-language forms and Be Counted centers at more locations) contributed to improved enumeration. The research suggests that undercount in rural California was greatly reduced from the level of prior censuses but that serious methodological problems remain--especially with OMB/census definitions of "household" and MAF development. These appear to be serious enough to compromise tabulations of some of the most marginal groups such as indigenous migrants. The paper offers suggestions for practical improvements in operational procedures for ACS and Census 2020. However, cost-cutting strategies based on increased reliance on administrative records and online survey methodology may exacerbate current difficulties in accurately enumerating socioeconomically marginal populations.