All Things Census
The average size of U.S. households has been declining for decades, but may have grown in recent years, at least in part because of an increase in multi-generational households. Data from the 2010 Census will supply additional information about whether, where and why this is happening.
Meanwhile, here is an early clue: Average household size in Maryland, which had declined in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, grew by a tiny amount from 2000 to 2010, according to numbers analyzed by the Maryland State Data Center. In 1970, average household size was 3.25 in Maryland; in 1980, it was 2.82; in 1990, 2.67; in 2000, 2.61. In 2010, it was again 2.61 (the 2000 and 2010 numbers look the same, but the data center analysis shows there actually was an increase of .01 before rounding). Household size grew in several large suburban counties, according to the analysis.
The Census Bureau plans to release statistics on household size in May, but they can be calculated now based on other data released by the bureau this week. To accommodate states such as Maryland that want to take account of prison populations in legislative redistricting, the bureau released detailed counts of populations for group quarters (including prisons). If group quarters counts are subtracted from the total population counts released earlier, the number of people living in households can be derived, then divided by the number of occupied housing units included in the bureau’s recently released redistricting files to produce average household size.
In addition to publishing detailed numbers from the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau has been releasing performance indicators from the count. They offer clues to help answer the question of how well the bureau did in counting the entire U.S. population, only once, and in the right place.
The most crucial evidence, an independent post-census quality survey, will not be published until next year. That survey will produce measurements of undercounts and overcounts of specific race and Hispanic groups. However, other information is available now that speaks to the completeness of the count as well as to its data quality. This posting explains some of these key metrics and places them in a chronological narrative of the census-taking process.
Mail Participation Rate: The Census Bureau mailed millions of forms in March 2010. An early important indicator was the mail participation rate: 72% of occupied households sent back their forms, the same as for the short form in 2000. This was a good result, both for cost and quality. Non-response follow-up is expensive, and mailed-in census forms tend to have more accurate information than can be obtained from interviews weeks or months after Census Day, April 1. Read more
More than 2,000 demographers, sociologists and others converged on Washington, D.C., last week for the Population Association of America’s annual meeting. Among the poster sessions and papers presented were some that dispute the popular (or academic) wisdom about important aspects of family life. Three are described here, along with Pew Research Center survey findings that bear on the topics they cover—family meals, cohabitation and divorce.
Conference presentations are typically works-in-progress, to be revised as more information becomes available or challenges to their methodology are resolved. They are not the final word on these topics, and should not be taken as the new conventional wisdom. But they raise valuable questions about substantive issues. Read more
Now that the 2010 Census numbers have been released for every place in the United States, a number of local officials—including the mayors of New York and Detroit—have announced plans to file administrative challenges to counts that they contend are too low. Based on past patterns, some lawsuits alleging undercounts also can be expected.
Census numbers indicated that New York City’s population in 2010 was 8,175,133, compared with 8,008,278 a decade earlier. That gain of about 167,000 people was smaller than expected, and city officials say it was less than the number of new housing units added over the decade. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the city will file a formal challenge, focusing on problems in Brooklyn and Queens.
The mayor of Detroit, Dave Bing, hopes a challenge could increase his city’s official count of 713,777 to about 750,000. As counted by the Census Bureau, Detroit’s population fell by 25% from 2000 to 2010. Both city and regional officials say the official count could be low by tens of thousands of people.
Both cities will appeal under the Census Bureau’s Count Question Resolution program, which offers a limited opportunity to challenge the numbers. Any changes would not affect apportionment of congressional seats, counts for redistricting purposes or official census data products. The changes would be incorporated into Census Bureau population estimates, which federal agencies use as the basis for dividing program funds among the nation’s states and localities for the next decade. Read more
When final national race counts from the 2010 Census were released last month, they included more than 9 million Americans who self-identified as belonging to two or more race groups. One of them was not President Barack Obama, child of a white mother and black father, who said last year that he described himself on his census form as “black.”
As columnist Gregory Rodriguez recently pointed out, the number of Americans who checked both “black” and “white” on their census forms grew by 134% from 2000 to 2010. (Among non-Hispanics, about 1.6 million reported being both black and white, but not any other race; among Hispanics, about 654,000 did so.) Rodriguez lamented the president’s decision not to include himself in more than one racial category.
The perception of Obama’s racial identity is quite different among black and white Americans, according to a Pew Research Center survey on race in late 2009 that asked respondents “do you think of Obama as black or mixed race?” Among non-Hispanic whites, 53% said the president was mixed race, but 55% of non-Hispanic blacks said he was black. Among Hispanics of all races, 61% said Obama is mixed race.
The Pew Hispanic Center released an updated analysis today that compares Hispanic population counts in the 2010 Census with the Census Bureau’s own population estimates. (A previous analysis, published March 15, included numbers for 33 states. This report includes all 50 states and Washington, D.C.) Nationally, the 2010 Census counted nearly 1 million more Hispanics than expected, as compared with the bureau’s population estimates. That 1.9% discrepancy was notably lower than the gap seen in the 2000 Census. Read more
The nation’s Hispanic population rose to 50.5 million in the 2010 Census, and increased by 43% over the decade. A new analysis of 2010 Census data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, indicates that in nine states, the size of the Hispanic population more than doubled. They included the Southeastern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina, as well as Maryland and South Dakota.
The Pew Hispanic Center analysis includes state rankings and totals for population, share of population and percent growth over the decade, both for all Hispanics and for children under age 18.
The Census Bureau has just released 2010 Census population figures for race groups and Hispanics, culminating state-by-state releases that began last month. Later today, the Pew Hispanic Center will release a short analysis of trends in growth and dispersion of the nation’s Latino population.
A Pew Hispanic Center analysis released today examines differences between Census 2010 counts of Hispanics and the Census Bureau’s population estimates of Hispanics in the 33 states for which detailed statistics have been released so far.
It finds that in 23 of those states, the census counts of Hispanics were at least 2% higher than expected. In three states, the totals were at least 2% under what had been expected from the population estimates. In seven states, the differences one way or the other was less than 2%.
New Zealand has canceled its planned 2011 census because of the major earthquake on the nation’s South Island on Feb. 22. The census, which is taken every five years, had been scheduled for March 8. Residents had the option of filling out forms online or on paper.
In canceling the census, government officials said it would be an unfair burden and a distraction to ask people to fill out census forms while they are dealing with the aftermath of the quake. They also cited damage to Statistics New Zealand offices with “extensive impact on census staff.”
The nation’s chief statistician, Geoff Bascand, said he and his staff would “investigate the feasibility of alternative options.” According to news accounts, Bascand said the nation’s Statistics Act must be amended in order for the census to be canceled because the law requires a census to be taken every five years.