All Things Census


Migration Ups and Downs

Net migration–the number of people who move into a place minus the number who move out–can reflect local economic conditions, but a new analysis of population loss in rural areas finds that other factors also can play a role. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers, high outmigration tends to be related to quality-of-life considerations in many nonmetropolitan counties–specifically, these counties are “remote, thinly settled, and lacking in scenic appeal for prospective residents or tourists.”

The report from USDA’s Economic Research Service, “Nonmetropolitan Outmigration Counties,” notes that nearly half of the counties outside metropolitan areas have lost population from 1988 to 2008, especially among young people with relatively high education and skill levels. The report used annual migration estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau as a starting point to identify counties that lost population, and added in other demographic, geographic and socioeconomic indicators. The report also cited data from a USDA survey of manufacturers that asked about specific reasons that these employers may avoid outmigration counties.


Marriage and Family: Data and Attitudes

The decline in marriage rates, changes in children’s living arrangements, rise of cohabitation–as well as how the American public feels about these and other changes in family life–are explored with Census data and a public opinion survey in a new report from the Pew Research Center. The report finds that Americans have mixed feelings of acceptance and unease about the changes they see in society, but are optimistic about the future of marriage and the family.

The report from the center’s Social & Demographic Trends project, “The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families,” finds that nearly four-in-ten Americans (39%) say that marriage is becoming obsolete, according to findings of a survey conducted in partnership with TIME. This finding takes place in a demographic context of declining marriage rates: According to Census Bureau data, only 52% of adults ages 18 and older were married in 2008, compared with 72% in 1960. Marriage has declined among all groups, but especially so among Americans on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder. Increasingly, a “marriage gap” has emerged in which adults with college educations and good incomes are notably more likely to be married than are adults with less education and lower incomes.

The report presents detailed findings about attitudes of men and women, race and ethnic groups, age groups and people who live in different types of family arrangements. It also analyzes demographic data that illuminate changes in the American family in recent decades.


Year of the Census: China Counts

China is taking its once-a-decade census, sending six million enumerators door-to-door, and will attempt to count people where they actually live, rather than where their households are officially registered. This represents a change from the methodology that has prevailed since the Peoples Republic of China was founded in 1949.

Major challenges during the 10-day enumeration period will include determining China’s true number of migrant workers, who have helped fuel economic growth but who do not necessarily want the central government to know where they live. In an effort to count all children, the government has promised reduced fines for parents who have violated China’s one-child policy if they come clean to census-takers.

Beyond those particular challenges, Chinese officials say they face growing concerns about personal privacy rights, an issue that also hampers census-taking in many other nations. In an attempt to address those concerns, the census form does not ask about income or religion. According to the Associated Press, the names and photos of census-takers are posted on neighborhood bulletin boards to help residents avoid scam artists posing as enumerators. Read more


Is the Great Recession Linked to a Decline in Marriage?

Imagine that you see two people in the distance walking alongside each other down a busy sidewalk. Maybe they are a couple. Maybe they just happen to be heading in the same direction. In a crowd of people on a city street, it’s hard to tell.

That same challenge arises when researchers look at possible links among social, economic and demographic trends. Two trends are heading in the same direction, but are they related? Correlation, the statisticians frequently warn, is no guarantee of causation.

There is wide interest by researchers and journalists in finding data from the Census Bureau and other sources that could illustrate the impacts of the Great Recession on American life.  This posting recounts a recent debate over the strength of potential links between the recent decline in marriage rates and the national economic downturn.

When the Census Bureau released its 2009 American Community Survey estimates Sept. 29, many news accounts focused on showing how the numbers illustrated the impact of the Great Recession. A number of news stories—including those in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Bloomberg news service, Associated Press and AOL news—picked up on findings that for the first time, more 25-to-34-year-olds have never married than are married. Among those ages 18 and older, 52% are married, the lowest proportion since the government began collecting data on this measure more than a century ago. Read more


Final Participation Rate for 2010 Census: 74%

The total included 2% of households for which forms were received after the April 27 deadline, too late to stop the bureau from sending a census-taker to knock on the door. The 72% mail participation rate achieved before that deadline also matched the 2000 Census rate.

The Census Bureau news release included a statement by agency director Robert Groves that he was very pleased. Data for individual states, counties, cities and neighborhoods are available on the bureau’s website.


Russia Takes a Census

The 2010 census is underway in Russia, and experts expect that the results will show the population is smaller than it was during the last count, in 2002. That census counted 145 million people; estimates for the current total are about 140 million to 142 million. The decline has been attributed to a combination of diminished migration, ill health and low birth rates (although government statistics indicate recent upticks in fertility). The census nearly was canceled because of cost considerations.

One challenge for the census is to have a correct count of the estimated 20% of the population who are ethnic minorities. The federal statistics service offers 1,840 possible categories for residents to choose from. To persuade Russians to cooperate with census-takers, the country’s top leaders posed for photographs with enumerators, and President Dmitry Medvedev recounted his own experiences as a census-taker.


Hispanic Eligible Voters, by State

Using 2008 American Community Survey data, the Pew Hispanic Center has constructed demographic and socioeconomic profiles of eligible Hispanic voters in 27 states with the largest numbers of them. The state fact sheets include breakdowns by age, gender, educational attainment, marital status, parenthood status, household income and homeownership rate, as well as the shares that are citizens by birth or via naturalization. Comparisons are provided based on all voters in those states, and nationwide.

In addition, the Pew Hispanic Center has published a new interactive feature, called Mapping the Latino Electorate, that includes eligible voter statistics for the 50 states and District of Columbia, as well as Hispanic and overall population and eligible voter statistics for the 435 congressional districts.

Eligible voters are defined as U.S. citizens, ages 18 and older.


Working Wives and Unemployed Husbands

Among married couples with their own children under 18 at home, the share with a working wife and unemployed husband went up in 41 states in 2009, compared with the year before, according to a new Census Bureau analysis of data from the American Community Survey. Nationally, the share of married couples with minor children where the wife was employed and the husband was not rose to 3.4% in 2009, compared with 1.8% in 2008.

The Census Bureau analysis links the rise to the Great Recession’s harsher impact on male-dominated industries, such as manufacturing, compared with female-dominated sectors such as health care. It also notes that the number of women older than 25 with advanced degrees (which can buffer against unemployment) rose from 2008 to 2009, while the number of men with advanced degrees did not change. A Pew Research Center report earlier this year reached some similar conclusions about marriage and gender; it found a rising share of U.S.-born women ages 30-44 are more educated and earn more income than their husbands.

The new Census Bureau analysis is among a dozen new ACS briefs released this week that use data from the 2009 survey. The briefs explore themes that include commuting, labor force participation, housing, use of public assistance, immigration, and science and engineering degrees.


Multi-Generational Households in Europe

Among Europeans ages 25-34, nearly one-in-three men and one-in-five women lived with at least one of their parents in 2008, according to a recent report from the European Commission. The highest shares were in Bulgaria for men (61%) and in Slovakia for women (42%).

These figures are higher than they are in the United States, where there has been a recent rise in multi-generational family households, as documented in a recent Pew Research Center report. According to the report, which is based on census data, 22% of men and 18% of women ages 25-34 lived in a multi-generational family household in 2008; in the vast majority of cases, they lived with one or both of their parents. In October 2009, a Pew Research Center survey found that 13% of  parents with grown children said one of their adult sons or daughters had moved back home in the previous year.


Marriage and College

Throughout the 20th century, college-educated Americans were less likely to be married by age 30 than Americans without a college degree. That pattern has now reversed, according to a new report by the Pew Social & Demographic Trends project of the Pew Research Center.

The report is based on data from the 1950 to 2000 Decennial Censuses and the Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey.