Differential Privacy in the 2020 Census: New Confidentiality Protections & the Implications for Data Users

The Census Bureau is modernizing its confidentiality protections for census responses. At the heart of this new approach is a mathematical definition of confidentiality called “differential privacy.” This fact sheet—published jointly with Data & Society and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights—provides a brief introduction to differential privacy, outlines the implications of the changes for data users, and encourages stakeholders to provide feedback to the Census Bureau.

Evaluating the Accuracy of the Decennial Census: A Primer on the Fundamentals of Census Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation

It is perhaps more important today than ever for stakeholders to understand the key approaches and methods for measuring the accuracy of the decennial census. The 2020 Census faces extraordinary challenges that will impact its fairness and accuracy. The likely consequences may skew political representation and the allocation of federal funds for the next decade and affect an array of other crucial uses of census data. To help stakeholders better engage in public discussions of census accuracy and related actions, this preliminary report introduces measures and methods for evaluating census accuracy, assesses their relative strengths and weaknesses, and provides key historical context needed for interpreting the results of the census.

Count People Where They Are: Census Miscounts Undermine Essential Funding for Homelessness Prevention

The Census Bureau has struggled to accurately count people experiencing homelessness in decennial censuses. Due to the unprecedented challenges of conducting the 2020 Census during the COVID-19 pandemic, people experiencing homelessness were likely undercounted and miscounted at even higher rates than in previous decades. These undercounts and miscounts may undermine the fair allocation of federal funding for public programs and services—such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers—that help people experiencing homelessness attain a decent standard of living. This report, published jointly with the Center for American Progress and the National LGBTQ Task Force, explains why the 2020 Census may have undercounted people experiencing homelessness, outlines consequences for public programs, and offers preliminary recommendations for how to improve counts of people experiencing homelessness for the 2030 Census.

The Risks & Rewards of Conducting a Census in the Digital Age

As the nation’s first “digital” census, the 2020 Census will employ cutting-edge methodologies and technologies to improve the efficiency, cost, and accuracy. With consequences for determining the allocation of political power and financial resources, it is essential that the Census Bureau complete a fair and accurate count, particularly in communities historically missed in the census. This article, published in the Georgetown Law Technology Review, provides census stakeholders an overview of some of the opportunities and challenges presented by the use of big data and digital technologies in census taking.

Fulfilling a Constitutional Mandate: An Overview of How Census Data are Used to Apportion the House of Representatives

The decennial census is key to the distribution of political power in the United States. The count is the basis for the apportionment–the distribution of seats in the House of Representatives to the states according to their populations. In this joint fact sheet from the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, we provide an overview of the official apportionment process and timeline as a resource for census stakeholders.