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The U.S. Decennial Census: Politics and Political Science

Posted: 14 Oct 2010  

Kenneth Prewitt

Columbia University

Date Written: June 2010


Political scientists make heavy use of census statistics but have given scant attention to the politics behind the production of those statistics. Key issues that merit analytic attention by political science include vote dilution, the policy of population growth and composition, distributional accuracy and census undercounts, the establishment of statistical races, the color-blind challenge to the ethnoracial classification, the political independence of federal statistics, the important distinction between the scientific production and the political use of the census and other statistical products, public concern about government intrusiveness, and the shift from survey and census data to administrative and digital data.

Suggested Citation

Prewitt, Kenneth, The U.S. Decennial Census: Politics and Political Science (June 2010). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 13, pp. 237-254, 2010. Available at SSRN: or

Kenneth Prewitt (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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