Update: On Monday, March 26th, the Commerce Department announced that the 2020 Census will reinstate the citizenship question for the first time in 70 years. Our panelists discussed some of the dire and far-reaching consequences a Census undercount can have on public and economic health, as well as political representation. A number of states are planning legal action in response to this decision. See "What Can We Do?" below for a list of organizations advocating for a fair and trustworthy Census.
Thanks to all who joined us on Tuesday, February 27th for a fascinating discussion: What happens to community health when data is compromised? A discussion panel on the 2020 Census and other survey data.
A special thanks to our phenomenal panelists who made this session possible:
Mark Abraham – Executive Director of DataHaven
Read Mark’s coauthored article with Aparna Nathan that appeared in the Hartford Courant, “Census Underfunding Could Hurt Connecticut.”
Rachel Leventhal-Weiner – Data Engagement Specialist at Connecticut Data Collaborative
Contact Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kenya Flash – Pol. Sci., Global Affairs & Gov. Info. Librarian at the Center for Science and Social Science Information, Yale University
Miriam Olivares – GIS Librarian at the Center for Science and Social Science Information, Yale University
Jim Hadler – Senior Consultant, Infectious Disease and Medical Epidemiology, Connecticut and Yale Emerging Infections Program, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists
And our Moderator, Kyle Peyton, PhD candidate in Political Science, Yale University, ISPS Policy Fellow.
For those of you who could not attend, or want to stay involved in the discussion, here are some highlights and additional resources.
What does Census data do?:
Informs other population surveys
Acts as an integral part of geospatial work
Helps determine public health funding based on incidence
Allows for analysis of social determinants of health through the American Community Survey, which fills in important details of population data that the decennial Census outlines.
Read more about the links between Census data and public health in these articles:
Using the Census to understand the link between flu and poverty in New Haven, CT
Exploring the relationship between poverty and premature mortality in New York City
Why is the Census endangered?
A question about citizenship status has been proposed for the 2020 Census. This question has the potential to significantly reduce response rates among already undercounted immigrant and minority communities, jeopardizing the accuracy of the data collected and driving up costs as more resources are used to follow-up with non-responders. As Census data drives redistricting and federal funding, an inaccurate count puts vulnerable communities at risk of not receiving necessary funding and resources. Inaccurate Census data also hinders efforts of public health officers to initiate effective disease prevention programs in high risk communities.
In addition, underfunding of the Census has the potential to result in an inaccurate count, as fewer resources are available for field testing and follow-up of non-responders, among other issues. The impacts of an undercount would be felt long after 2020, at both the local and national level. Lack of funding doesn’t just affect the decennial Census, many Census programs and other federal surveys are at risk.
As Census data provides the infrastructure for numerous policy, commerce, and research efforts, stripping resources from the Census is like tearing up our roads and highways!
What can we do?
Reach out to your congressional representative and demand a fair and thorough count! A full count is in their self-interest as well as the communities they represent.
Follow The Census Project, a network of organizations that “support a fair and accurate 2020 Census and a comprehensive American Community Survey”.
The National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) is building a strategy to end gerrymandering and create fairer maps in the 2021 redistricting process.
The Count on Stats initiative of the American Statistical Association aims to educate and advocate for the importance of trustworthy federal statistics.
The Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics devoted to increasing the public’s knowledge of Federal statistics and creating dialog around the value of Federal statistics for the public good.
At the local level, The Connecticut Data Collaborative aims to “empower an ecosystem of data users by democratizing access to public data and building data literacy”. In addition to offering processed and machine-readable datasets through their data portal, the CT Data Collaborative offers a monthly open data conference call and provides updates in federal and state data in the news, in addition to various events.
Register for the next Open Data Call and learn more about The CT Data Collaborative’s events here:
Contact a librarian at CWML for questions and additional resources about the Census and its impact on public health!