• Redesigning the questionnaires and mailing package: The questionnaires were made more attractive and easy to fill out. They were shortened by providing space to report characteristics for six people instead of seven as in 1990. In addition, most housing items previously included on the short form were moved to the long form. The mailing package emphasized the mandatory nature of the census, and multiple mailings were made to households, including an advance letter (in mailout/mailback areas), the questionnaire, and a reminder postcard.

  • Adapting enumeration procedures to special situations: This involved having nine types of enumeration areas (see Box A-2 in Appendix A).

  • Allowing multiple modes for response: Households could mail back their questionnaire or provide responses by telephone; recipients of the short form could submit their form on the Internet. In addition, people could pick up a “Be Counted” form from a local site if they thought they had been missed. (To reduce the potential for duplication, the Bureau did not widely advertise the Internet submission or “Be Counted” programs.)

  • Expanding advertising and outreach efforts (see “Outreach,” below).

A significant achievement of the 2000 census was that it did halt the historical decline in the mail response rate. The rate (about 66%) was similar to that in 1990 (65%) and considerably higher than the Bureau had projected (61%), which reduced the burden of field follow-up. The mail return rate—a more refined measure of public cooperation than the mail response rate—was slightly lower in 2000 (about 72%) than in 1990 (74%). However, for long forms, the mail return rate in 2000 was only about 58 percent, compared with about 72 percent for short forms, a much wider difference than occurred in 1990; see Box 3-1 for details.

Note that questionnaires counted as “mail” returns in the 2000 census include responses from the multiple modes. Of 76 million “mail” returns, about 66,000 were Internet returns, 605,000 were “Be Counted” forms, and 200,000 were telephone responses.


The Census Bureau engaged in large-scale advertising and outreach efforts for 2000. For the first time, the census budget included funds for a paid advertising campaign ($167 million). (In previous censuses, the Advertising Council arranged for advertising firms to develop ads and air them on a pro bono, public service basis.) The advertising ran from October 1999 through May 2000 and included separate phases to alert people to the importance of the upcoming census, encourage them to fill out the forms when delivered, and motivate

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