young black men. While the 2000 census was successful in reducing the net undercount among minority race groups, minority males are still a group that have historically proven to be complicated to count accurately. Though the undercount for black males decreased in 2000, rates were still elevated for them and other racial and ethnic minority groups, notably Hispanics, relative to whites.
A small-sample but intensive study of households in predominantly black inner-city areas by Valentine and Valentine (1971a,b) suggested one possible contributing source to this “missing men” problem. Later described by Brownrigg and Wobus (1993:156) as “the man under the bed” hypothesis, the argument suggested in this research holds that minority men may be deliberately omitted (concealed) from household counts, either because the men “do not want to be found” or “the men are intentionally not revealed by respondents for ulterior reasons.” The Valentine and Valentine (1971a,b) analysis found rates of missing young adult and adult males as high as 61 percent in their small-area study, and they concluded that “practically all the significant inaccurate information came from adult females who [neglected] to mention productive men residing in their domiciles” (quoted in Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology, 1990:43).
Many of the households where males were unreported received welfare assistance; accordingly, a suggested reason for the failure to count the men was a legacy of welfare “man in the house” policies.7 Under the “man in the house” rules used by some states, welfare payments could be cut off if it were shown that a man was present in the house (ostensibly, filling a “substitute father” role and providing support). In the census context, then, respondents might be unwilling to report to any federal agency the presence of males in the household. “Man in the house” rules were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Alabama’s policy in King v. Smith (392 U.S. 309, 1968), but whether people realized that the rules had changed was a different matter; indeed, contemporary researchers still find that some people believe that some variant of a “man in the house” rule is in effect (Edin and Lein, 1997). Fear of jeopardizing eligibility for benefits due to the presence of a male in the household (and, hence, another resource provider) may still hold among people who are residents of public or federally subsidized housing.
The notion of deliberate concealment of household members—particularly men—was later corroborated by Tourangeau et al. (1997), who found that minority males were more likely to be omitted from a household roster where full names were required and more likely to be reported in list-
The Valentines also speculated that another financial consideration might motivate the failure to count men in some households: “many of the unreported men were also engaged in some form of illegal economic activity, e.g., the stolen goods market,” so suppressing mention of those men had the added incentive of preserving a household income stream (Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology, 1990:44).