Ong on Consequences of Census Undercount

Paul Ong, director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at UCLA Luskin, spoke to the Associated Press about widespread concerns about gaps in the 2020 U.S. Census data. The U.S. Census is one of the most important surveys about how Americans live, typically receiving information from 3.5 million households about family life, education, income and employment, but the pandemic resulted in fewer responses being recorded. According to Ong, there are two potential problems with the undercount. “The first is not having comparable data to track longitudinal changes over time,” he said. “The second is a far bigger issue — that is, not having the data to examine the pandemic effects.” Many researchers are concerned that there will be a significant gap in data for a momentous year including the pandemic, natural disasters and social justice protests. “For us, it is important to examine which populations and neighborhoods were most hurt,” Ong said.

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