Protecting and advancing inclusive and equitable democratic institutions is essential to our mission. GCPI ESOI develops strategies that promote a fair and accurate count in the U.S. census and preserve and expand voting rights, access to justice, civic engagement, immigration rights, and fair and equal data, among other crucial issues.

WORKING PAPER | April 2021

Who Responded in the 2020 Census? Variation in Tract-Level Self-Response Rates in the 2020 U.S. Census

The goal of the decennial census is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place. However, the Census Bureau has historically overcounted certain groups—including white people—while undercounting others—including people of color, young children, and people experiencing homelessness. These gaps undermine the fairness of the census and contribute to an inequitable distribution of political power and federal resources for programs that support economic security, health, and education. This working paper examines the self-response rates to the 2020 Census by various socio-economic, demographic, and housing characteristics in order to gain timely insights into the potential accuracy of the 2020 Census.

Bill O’Hare & Jae June Lee

FACT SHEET | Revised February 2021

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 Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Data & Society, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund—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.

Jae June LeeCara Brumfield

Report Cover for Evaluating the Accuracy of the Decennial Census
REPORT | October 2020

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 U.S. decennial census. The 2020 Census faces extraordinary challenges that will impact its fairness and accuracy. Flawed census numbers 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 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.

William P. O’Hare, Cara Brumfield, & Jae June Lee

Report Cover for Evaluating the Accuracy of the Decennial Census
REPORT | October 2020

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.

Jaboa Lake, Jae June Lee, Megan Maury, & Cara Brumfield

Report Cover for Evaluating the Accuracy of the Decennial Census
ARTICLE | July 2020

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.

Cara Brumfield & Jae June Lee

FACT SHEET | April 2020

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.

Jae June Lee & Cara Brumfield

REPORT | Updated January 2020 

Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census

GCPI and the American Libraries Association created a resource guide for librarians to use in supporting a fair and accurate count in the 2020 Census. Ensuring an accurate count of everyone in the 2020 Census is crucial for the appropriate distribution of federal funding and for reapportionment. Libraries can play an important role by answering questions about the census, providing access to internet-connected computers, helping to fight misinformation, and more.

Cover of Disability FAQ Fact Sheet
FACT SHEET | December 2019

Why the Census Matters for Women & Girls

Census data help guide the distribution of federal funds for programs that serve millions of women and girls with low incomes. The data also help us make decisions about how to support women, girls, and their communities. This fact sheet, published jointly with the National Women’s Law Center, highlights barriers to fairly and accurately counting women and girls in the decennial census and programs that could be impacted by an inaccurate count.

Funke Aderonmu, Sophie Khan, & Cara Brumfield

Featured Series

FACT SHEETS | November 2019

2020 Census Group Quarters Operation

The Census Bureau uses a special Group Quarters operation to count people in group living arrangements, such as colleges, health care facilities, shelters, and correctional facilities. This 2020 Census Group Quarters Operation series, published jointly with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Census Counts explains the process for counting people in group quarters. The series provides Residents, facility administrators, advocates, and other stakeholders with the information needed to help ensure that group quarters are counted fairly and accurately.


Cover of Disability FAQ Fact Sheet
FAQ | November 2019

An Accessible 2020 Census: Frequently Asked Questions by the Disability Community About Census Operations

The Census Bureau is working to ensure that the 2020 Census will be accessible for everyone. This FAQ—published jointly with the National Disability Rights Network—provides answers to questions we see most often about census operations and accessibility.

Erika Hudson & Jae June Lee

FACT SHEET | November 2019

The 2020 Census & the Environment: How Census Data Are Used for Environmental Justice & Climate Action

Census data are critical for advancing environmental justice and climate action. Researchers, advocates, and policymakers rely on accurate census data to identify the disparate impacts of the climate crisis, enforce an array of environmental protections, and ensure programs meet the needs (both short- and long-term) of diverse communities. This fact sheet is published jointly with WE ACT for Environmental Justice and the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation.

Jae June LeeCara Brumfield

FACT SHEET | September 2019

Why the Census Matters for Reproductive Health

Census data guide more than $800 billion in federal funding—including funding for reproductive health. This fact sheet, published jointly with Planned Parenthood, explores some of the reproductive health programs and services that rely on a fair and accurate 2020 Census count.


BRIEF | August 2019

2018 Census End-to-End Test: Results & Challenges for the 2020 Census

This issue brief provides an overview of the results of 2018 End-to-End (E2E) Census Test, often called the “dress rehearsal.” As the last, most comprehensive test before 2020 Census operations begin, the E2E Census Test is fundamental to the 2020 Census’ goal: “to count everyone once, only once and in the right place.”

Christopher BrownCara Brumfield

BRIEF | June 2019

Why the Census Matters for People with Disabilities: A Guide to the 2020 Census Operations & Challenges

This issue brief, published jointly with the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), describes the importance of counting people with disabilities in the 2020 census. The brief also explores how people with disabilities will be counted and related challenges. If this population is not counted accurately, the result may be unequal political representation and unequal access to vital public and private resources for people with disabilities and their communities.

Jae June Lee, Erika Hudson, & Cara Brumfield

FACT SHEET | June 2019

Race & Origin Questions: A Guide to 2020 Census Operations

Accurate, detailed data on race and origin are necessary to enforce a broad array of civil rights protections, reveal disparate impacts of laws and policies, and ensure programs meet the needs of diverse communities. This fact sheet is a guide for responding to the 2020 Census race and origin questions.

Cara Brumfield, Casey Goldvale, & Christopher Brown

BRIEF | June 2019

Race & Origin Questions in Context: Understanding the 2020 Census

Accurate, detailed data on race and origin are necessary to enforce a broad array of civil rights protections, reveal disparate impacts of laws and policies, and ensure programs meet the needs of diverse communities. This brief provides background on the 2020 Census’ race and origin questions, including a discussion of proposed but rejected changes to the questions.

Cara Brumfield, Casey Goldvale, & Christopher Brown

BRIEF | October 2018

Counting Rural America: A Guide to 2020 Census Operations

This brief describes the operations that will be used to count people in rural areas. An accurate count of all rural residents is important for ensuring that rural Americans have access to the resources their communities need to thrive.

Cara Brumfield, Sophie Khan

BRIEF | October 2018

Why the Census Matters for Rural America: Defining, Understanding, and Investing in Rural Communities

Census data help determine which areas are considered rural, help us understand the characteristics of rural residents, and are used to allocate funding for programs that serve rural America. This brief, produced in partnership with The Census Project, explores some of the ways that the 2020 Census will be important for people in rural areas.

Cara Brumfield

REPORT | September 2018

Citizenship Question Nonresponse: A Demographic Profile of People Who Do Not Answer the American Community Survey Citizenship Question

This report shares an analysis of data nonresponse to the citizenship question on the American Community Survey. Nonresponse rates vary by demographic group, but have been rising over time–showing an increased sensitivity to the question. It is expected that the nonresponse rate to the citizenship question on the 2020 Census will be even higher that the 6% nonresponse rate to the question on the ACS, and that the question will make the census more expensive and it’s results less accurate.

William P. O’Hare

Obama Legacy Series

Obama Legacy Series

The Obama Legacy on Poverty & Inequality

GCPI joined with TalkPoverty and other experts to examine President Obama’s legacy on poverty & inequality issues, and look at the challenges ahead.