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Confusion Surrounds 2020 Census, Survey Finds (No, There Will Not Be A Citizenship Question)

U.S. Census Bureau
In a Pew Research Center survey, only 17% of adults answer correctly that a citizenship question is not on the 2020 census.

As outreach efforts ramp up ahead of the next U.S. census, many people are confused about what the census means or how they can participate, according to a new report.


A Pew Research Center survey found that 40% of people didn’t know that the census is tied to local government funding, fewer knew that it’s required by law and only one in five knew that they could respond online.

Anna Brown, a Pew research associate who helped conduct the survey, said there are other misconceptions.

“For example, a majority believe that the census will ask them if they’re a U.S. citizen or not, even though it’s been determined that there will be no citizenship question on the 2020 Census,” Brown said.

She said Hispanic residents are also less likely to participate in the survey, but it’s hard to say if a presumed citizenship question is why. Black Americans were also less likely to participate in the census, according to Pew.

As Politico reported last week, the U.S. Census Bureau is spending $500 million on ad campaigns urging participation and countering concern that the census will undercount minority groups — “which would impact everything from redistricting to federal grant spending for the next 10 years.”

Most U.S. households will receive 2020 Census mailings beginning in mid-March asking them to respond online or by mail or phone.

Find reporter Madelyn Beck on Twitter @MadelynBeck8

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center For the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.