2020 U.S. Census Self-Response Rates Are Lagging in Neighborhoods at Risk of Undercounting Young Children

Response Rates Lowest in Communities of Color, Increasing Undercount Risk for Black and Latinx Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. —A new report from Population Reference Bureau (PRB) shows that communities at greatest risk of undercounting young children in the 2020 U.S. Census are already falling behind. As of June 25, the average self-response rate in census tracts with a very high risk of undercounting children under the age of 5 was 55%, compared to 69% in neighborhoods with a low undercount risk. Self-response rates were lowest in neighborhoods with high concentrations of racial and ethnic minorities, increasing fears that Black and Latinx children will not be accurately counted.

PRB classified neighborhoods’ risk of undercounting young children based on an analysis of data from the American Community Survey and the U.S. Census Bureau’s Revised 2018 Experimental Demographic Analysis Estimates for young children.

“Historically, young children have been more likely to be missed in the decennial census than other age groups. This means communities of color may not receive their fair share of federal funds for programs that benefit children and families,” said Linda Jacobsen, PRB’s vice president for U.S Programs.

The mean self-response rate in tracts with a majority-Black population of young children was 51%, compared to 64% for tracts with a majority of non-Hispanic White children, and 54% in tracts where Latinx children were the majority. The average self-response rate was just 21% in tracts with a majority of American Indian/Alaska Native children—likely because of the delayed start of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Update Leave operation in many rural areas.

To help improve outreach and targeting of communities where children are most likely to be missed in the census, PRB has developed a series of interactive maps and databases available through the Count All Kids website. These resources, which are updated weekly, highlight census tracts with a very high risk of undercounting young children and low 2020 Census self-response rates.

Although the net undercount rate for adults has fallen significantly over the last four decades, the undercount rate among young children under age 5 has increased and remains stubbornly high. Results from the 2010 Census show that among children under age 5, the net undercount rate was 7.5% for Latinx children and 6.3% for children classified as Black alone or in combination with one or more other races. The net undercount rate for all children under age 5 was 4.6%—higher than any other age group.

Contact: Liselle Yorke, 202-939-5463

PRB informs people around the world about population, health and the environment, and empowers them to use that information to advance the well-being of current and future generations. Find out more at www.prb.org. Follow us on Twitter @PRBdata.