Robert Adelman

Image of the United States 2020 Census over the United States flag.

Including a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census will undercut the accuracy of the population count

Robert M. Adelman
Department of Sociology

Measuring the country's population was so critical to the formation of the republic that the founders wrote the census requirement, necessary for determining Congressional representation, into Article Start here Section 2 of the Constitution, placing the provision ahead of details on the composition of the Senate or mention of the Office of the President.

The decennial census is not — and was never intended to be — a citizen count. It was intended to be an accurate count of the U.S. population, and adding a citizenship question to the census would likely discourage participation from documented and undocumented migrants who might not respond to the census form.

The citizenship question is proposed by an anti-immigrant administration and my recent work with colleagues on the relationship between immigration and crime across metropolitan areas underscores the political nature of such issues. Including the question will likely create a ripple effect of problems that will contribute to less accurate counts of the population.

Adelman, Robert M. 2018. City & Community 17(3): 537-935 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.comitoc/15406040/2018/17/3