census

35 posts
Technopolitics of the U.S. census

Dan Bouk and Danah Boyd wrote an essay on the data infrastructure and politics behind the decennial census: Like all infrastructures, the U.S. decennial census typically lives in the obscurity afforded by technical complexity. It goes unnoticed outside of the small group of people who take pride in being called “census nerds.” It rumbles on, essentially invisible even to those who are counted. (Every 10 years, scores of people who...

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How the Census translates to power, a cat comic

State population dictates the number of seats in the House of Representatives, so ideally, the decennial Census counts everyone and power is fairly distributed. On the surface, that seems straightforward? For NPR, Connie Jin and Hansi Lo Wang explain with a cat comic. Because cats. See also the cat guide on spotting misinformation. Tags: census, comic, government, NPR

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Census undercount

For NYT Opinion, Gus Wezerek and Andrew Whitby on what might happen if the count ends on September 30: Times Opinion predicted how many people would remain uncounted on Sept. 30, based on each state’s current response rate. Our analysis shows that those undercounts will cheat some states — mostly Republican — out of federal funding and one state out of a congressional seat. Tags: census, New York Times, undercount

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Census counting during the pandemic

Reporting for The New York Times, Giovanni Russonello on the decennial census during these times: If households can’t be reached, even by enumerators, then census takers rely on a process known as imputation — that is, they use data from demographically similar respondents to take a best guess at what the missing data ought to say. “This year I can imagine imputation being much higher, and that will itself be...

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Evolution of Census questions

On the surface, the decennial census seems straightforward. Count everyone in the country and you’re done. But the way we’ve done that has changed over the decades. The Pudding and Alec Barrett of TWO-N looked at the changes through the lens of questions asked: We looked at every question on every census from 1790 to 2020. The questions—over 600 in total—tell us a lot about the country’s priorities, norms, and...

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Privacy algorithm could lead to Census undercount of small towns

To increase anonymity in the Census records, the bureau is testing an algorithm that removes real people and inserts imaginary people in various locations. As you can imagine, this carries a set of challenges. Gus Wezerek and David Van Riper for New York Times Opinion ask what effects this could have on small towns. Tags: census, counting, New York Times, privacy

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Cost of a Census undercount

The citizenship question for the upcoming Census is still stuck in limbo. One of the arguments against the question is that it could lead to a significant undercount in population, which can lead to less funding. For Reuters, Ally J. Levine and Ashlyn Still show how this might happen with a highlight on federal programs that rely on population estimates. Tags: census, Reuters, undercount

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How the 2020 Census will be different

Ted Mellnik and Reuben Fischer-Baum for The Washington Post describe the changes to the 2020 Census, which will lean more heavily on technology: The coming census also will break with history with a controversial restoration of a citizenship question, as well as with the adoption of new technologies that change how the count is performed The census will move away from paper as the primary way to collect data, for...

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Census data downloader to reformat for humans

There is a lot of Census data. You can grab most of the recent aggregates through the American FactFinder or via FTP or some obscure Census page that hasn’t been updated in a decade. It’s, uh, not always the best experience. The Census Data Downloader from the Los Angeles Times data desk is a Python library that streamlines the download process, if just a little bit. The main added value...

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Reduced privacy risk in exchange for accuracy in the Census count

Mark Hansen for The Upshot describes the search for balance between individual privacy and an accurate 2020 Census count. It turns out to not be that difficult to reconstruct person-level data from publicly available aggregates: On the face of it, finding a reconstruction that satisfies all of the constraints from all the tables the bureau produces seems impossible. But Mr. Abowd says the problem gets easier when you notice that...

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