Mar 12, 2020
The upcoming 2020 Census has long-lasting ramifications for federal funding
Today marks the first day that households across the United States will begin receiving official mail with instructions for completing the 2020 Census. The count of people in the United States generated by the Census, which is executed every 10 years, determines everything from representation in state and federal legislatures to funding for schools and programs. As such, it’s critical that as accurate a count as possible is made.
Prior research establishes that children are more likely to be undercounted by the Census than other age groups, and that Latino children are disproportionately more likely to be undercounted than other groups of children for numerous reasons including cultural/linguistic barriers, more complex family living arrangements, and greater likelihoods of living in hard-to-count places. Furthermore, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling that the 2020 Census will not ask about citizenship, a recent survey from Pew Research Center found that 56 percent of U.S. adults still think the Census will ask about citizenship status, while another recent study from Urban Institute found that nearly 70 percent think so.
Even a 3 percent undercount of Hispanics in the 2020 Census could significantly impact federal funding for five key programs that support children and families, according to a 2019 research brief from Child Trends. The brief features an interactive map (see example below) that shows how much federal funding for these programs each state would lose annually in the event of different degrees of a Hispanic undercount (3%, 6%, and 12% undercounts). These funding losses would continue throughout the entire 10-year period between the 2020 and the 2030 Censuses.
An undercount of Hispanics in the 2020 Census would have implications not just for the Hispanic community, but for all communities. April 1 is Census Day, and it’s important that all U.S. households accurately complete the Census this year.