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Activity Number: 159 - What Happens When the U.S. Population Is Undercounted in the Decennial Census?
Type: Topic Contributed
Date/Time: Tuesday, August 4, 2020 : 10:00 AM to 11:50 AM
Sponsor: Committee of Representatives to AAAS
Abstract #313059
Title: “Census Undercount: Lessening a Community's Financial Loss”
Author(s): Peter Morrison*
Companies: Peter A. Morrison & Associates, Inc.
Keywords: census undercount; hard-to-count populations; immigrant populations; immigrant distrust; Nantucket; seasonal worker population

This paper examines various ways that local municipalities lose governmental funding through an incomplete decennial census count of their residents. An undercount of local population may occur in many different ways, narrowing a municipality’s share of funds for 10 subsequent years thereafter. Its causes may include an incomplete inventory of the dwelling units where people live and receive mail; a concentrated local presence of hard-to-count populations; and ambiguities surrounding people’s usual place of residence or household membership. A further factor is immigrants’ distrust about inquisitive government outsiders. I first highlight the complex programmatic ways that governmental dollars are distributed to communities, as detailed in Andrew Reamer’s authoritative study (“Counting for Dollars”). Next, I illustrate how an uncommon confluence of known factors predisposed a severe undercount in one Massachusetts county (Nantucket). This local case study illustrates the challenges that arise in an immigrant entry community and suggests novel strategies for achieving a more complete Census count than in 2010, to enlarge Nantucket’s share of Federal dollars in coming years.

Authors who are presenting talks have a * after their name.

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