In March 2020, the United States will conduct its decennial census. An accurate count is essential for distribution of federal services and the allocation of representatives in Congress. It also serves as a resource for public and private sector analysts as they confront our nation’s most pressing issues.
Some of the largest programs that rely on Census data include:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Medicare Part B (supplemental medical insurance)
- Highway planning and construction
- Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and Project-Based Housing Assistance
- Grants to local education agencies
- National School Lunch Program
- Special Education Grants (IDEA)
- State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP)
- Head Start
- Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Foster care
- Health center programs (community, migrant, homeless, public housing)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)
Without an accurate count, states can miss out on vital federal funds.
Despite its importance, the Census faces a barrage of challenges this time around. On the surface, the cost of counting households has increased while response rates have decreased.
The census also faces a trend of staffing constraints.
This special series will delve into the importance of the census and the current barriers it faces to ensure that all Americans, regardless of income, region, or citizenship status gain the representation they deserve. A complete list of the pieces included in the series can be found below, in order of publication:
- Why an Accurate 2020 Census Matters: Money, Power and Truth, written by Kyla Fullenwider, an Entrepreneurship Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and previously the first Chief Innovation Officer of the U.S. Census Bureau.
- How the Digital Divide Could Affect the Accuracy of the 2020 Census, written by Amy Robinson, a masters in public policy student at the Harvard Kennedy School and JD candidate at Harvard Law School.
- The 2020 Census: Facing a ‘perfect storm?, written by Terri Ann Lowenthal, independent, nonpartisan consultant to philanthropy, civil rights organizations, state and local governments, and many other stakeholders on “all things census.”
- The Benefits of the Census Bureau: A Research Perspective, written by Nick Buffie, a masters in public policy student at the Harvard Kennedy School.
- Lessons for the US from Australia’s #censusfail, written by Izzy Borshoff, a masters in public policy student at the Harvard Kennedy School.
- How the Citizenship Question Makes Vulnerable Populations Less Likely to be Counted, a Q&A with Esperanza Guevara of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights