Estimating the Potential Effects of Adding a Citizenship Question to the 2020 Census

38 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2019

See all articles by J. David Brown

J. David Brown

US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Misty Heggeness

Government of the United States of America - Bureau of the Census

Suzanne Dorinski

U.S. Census Bureau

Lawrence Warren

U.S. Census Center for Economic Studies

Moises Yi

U.S. Census Bureau

Abstract

The self-response rate is a key driver of the cost and quality of a census. The addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census could affect the self-response rate. We predict the effect of the addition of a citizenship question on self-response by comparing mail response rates in the 2010 Census, which did not have a citizenship question, and the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS), which included a citizenship question for the same housing units. To distinguish a citizenship question effect from other factors, we compare the actual ACS-Census difference in response rates for households that may contain noncitizens to the ACS-Census difference for all-U.S. citizen households.We estimate the addition of a citizenship question will have a 5.8 percentage point (ppt) larger effect on self-response rates in households that may have noncitizens relative to all-U.S. citizen households. Noncitizens are also 36.2 ppts less likely to report citizenship status that is consistent with administrative records compared to citizens. Only 6.2 ppts of this difference is explained by observed characteristics.

Keywords: citizenship, immigration, sensitive questions, nonresponse, administrative records

JEL Classification: C8, F22, J1

Suggested Citation

Brown, J. David and Heggeness, Misty and Dorinski, Suzanne and Warren, Lawrence and Yi, Moises, Estimating the Potential Effects of Adding a Citizenship Question to the 2020 Census. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12087. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3323202

J. David Brown (Contact Author)

US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies ( email )

4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233
United States
301-763-8769 (Phone)
301-763-5935 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Misty Heggeness

Government of the United States of America - Bureau of the Census

4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233
United States

Suzanne Dorinski

U.S. Census Bureau

4600 Silver Hill Road
D.C., WA 20233
United States

Lawrence Warren

U.S. Census Center for Economic Studies ( email )

4700 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/lawrencefwarren/

Moises Yi

U.S. Census Bureau

4600 Silver Hill Road
D.C., WA 20233
United States

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