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Response and Coverage One of the most important findings of the 1990 census the increasing di- versity of the United States-also identifies one source of its challenges. Diverse housing, living arrangements, and language proficiencies all complicate the task of counting a population that is also increasingly mobile. Many people continue to be persuaded by appeals based on citizenship and a common national duty, and many have the skills and motivation needed to respond to the census mail ques- tionnaire. But sizable and perhaps increasing proportions appear to be motivated primarily by local interests and appeals, demand control over portions of the census process or outcomes, or require specialized help or media in order to participate. Others seem simply unmotivated or distrustful of government efforts to collect information. If the trends documented by the 1990 census continue, as expected, the 2000 census will face even larger obstacles. Measuring the effec- tiveness of census reform may therefore be complicated, because even greatly im- proved procedures may not yield greatly improved outcomes (e.g., in terms of public response to the mailed census questionnaire). A recognition that the popula- tion of the United States is simply and fundamentally becoming ever more difficult to count must be incorporated into planning for 2000 in order to develop viable strategies and the organizational and political consensus to implement them. Much of the Census Bureau's research on response and coverage for the 2000 census addresses two main criticisms raised about the 1990 census: the high unit cost of the census and the persistent differential undercount by race. Increasing the primary mail response rate is vital both to improving data quality and to reducing follow-up costs, thereby conserving resources for the task of reducing the differential undercount. 47
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48 COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE Problems of differential coverage can and should be addressed at the count- ing stage of census operations, using methods to improve response and coverage, as well as at other stages. ~ Reducing the differential undercount through improv- ing the initial count necessarily requires a large investment to reach a small proportion of the population that is relatively inaccessible to routine standardized procedures. Under such circumstances, controlling costs and the differential undercount in 2000 may require a massive reorientation-both conceptually and organizationally. The 1990 census attempted to apply a standard, and standard- ized, approach everywhere, but the outcome was still a differential undercount. Furthermore, standardization necessarily broke down in many geographical ar- eas, particularly those in which response to the mail questionnaire was low, as enumerators with only brief training were sent out and ultimately empowered to make last-ditch enumerations, using procedures known as last resort and close- out that permitted contacting persons who were not residents of the household. As discussed in Chapter 2, we recommend pursuing uniform outcomes, tailoring operational methods in controlled ways. The 1990 experience with coverage improvement programs suggests that the real alternative to recognizing the increasing diversity of the country and plan- ning for it may be using different approaches in a haphazard or ill-designed manner. The second phase of the 1990 parolee-probationer check, in which information about parolees and probationers was gathered from administrative lists, was not planned in advance of census operations. The vacant/delete check of housing units that were identified as vacant or nonexistent during nonresponse follow-up required enumerators to determine, months after Census Day, housing unit status on Census Day. Both programs apparently introduced large numbers of erroneous enumerations (Ericksen et al., 1991~. Uncontrolled variation in operational procedures becomes even more problematic under integrated cover- age measurement (see the section on uniformity of treatment in Chapter 2~. We believe that a system could be designed that is flexible enough to control or reduce the differential undercount yet maintain important aspects of standardiza- tion (such as definitions of household membership). It is unlikely that the methods discussed in this chapter for improving census response and coverage will completely eliminate differentials in coverage. How- ever, their use will contribute to two key goals: preserving the credibility of the census and addressing social changes that would otherwise tend to exacerbate differential coverage problems. Also, efforts to improve response and cover- age and, in particular, to reduce differential coverage~uring initial census operations will improve accuracy at intermediate stages and therefore reduce the ~ New approaches to address list development, discussed in Chapter 2, could improve coverage of hard-to-locate housing units, and sampling and statistical estimation can be used to measure and correct for differentials in census coverage, as discussed in Chapter 4.
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RESPONSE AND COVERAGE 49 burden on sampling and statistical estimation in producing results from the one- number census (see Chapter 4~. Conversely, response and coverage improvement methods that are too ex- pensive to be implemented on a large scale during the counting stage might be valuable tools in the field operation for integrated coverage measurement. Thus, sampling and statistical estimation can reduce the burden on coverage improve- ment efforts and improve the cost-effectiveness of the counting operation. As noted in Chapter 1, the allocation of resources among the major stages of census data collection will be a critical point in the development of the 2000 census design. RESEARCH ON RESPONSE AND COVERAGE ISSUES TO DATE The various research programs for the 2000 census have approached the two broad goals described above along several fronts. This chapter considers compo- nents of the research program that are concerned primarily with updating, ex- panding, and improving data collection methodologies ways people participate in the census to achieve better initial response and coverage and to control or reduce the differential undercount. The topics and research programs we review address the following issues: improving the implementation of the residence rules to increase the accuracy of coverage within households (referred to here as roster improvement research); increasing the response rate to the paper question- naire (response improvement research); using the telephone to answer questions and to accept interviews from citizens who call in during the initial (mailout) phase of the census, to conduct interviews during nonresponse follow-up, and to conduct reinterviews as part of integrated coverage measurement (use of the telephone); expanding traditional data collection methods to include other auto- mated technologies (using other technologies); developing methods tailored for groups that may be difficult to enumerate (hard-to-enumerate populations, tool kit and planning database); encouraging participation in ways that will be effec- tive in addressing the differential undercount (outreach and promotion); and at- tempting to further develop links with lower governmental units (state and local cooperative ventures). The various research programs aimed at response and coverage issues neces- sarily developed at different rates. The response improvement research, which developed methods for improving the initial response rate, was yielding results before this panel was constituted. It has already contributed very promising techniques for further evaluation in the 1995 census test. The procedures tested in the experiments reviewed below do require some further refinement. But the principal challenges for this research program now are ensuring that the methods can be made fully operational in a census. Reaping the benefits of respondent- friendly census forms, for example, requires continued progress in the develop
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so COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE ment of methods for scanning forms and capturing data. The continued research on new methods of fostering should result in a final census form that is substan- tially different from those already tested in the response improvement research. Close and continuing communication among those developing new methods of fostering, those designing ways of presenting census forms, and those familiar with the technical and operational details of producing and processing census forms is needed to ensure that the response improvement research yields the . . . gams it promises. Other portions of the research program on response and coverage issues have developed more slowly but are very promising. Research aimed at improving fostering and targeting barriers to enumeration have the potential to produce important innovations and possibly reduce the differential undercount. The ros- ter improvement research is beginning to produce findings that may lead to redesigned instruments that elicit more accurate responses, particularly from those living in complex households. But this program requires sustained efforts and funding beyond the 1995 census test if its important potential is to be realized by 2000, and the same is true for research that examines application of the tool kit to reach hard-to-enumerate populations. Research about outreach and promotion has barely begun~espite evidence that continuous outreach is important, at least in some geographic areas or with some groups (Bentley and Furrie, 1993~. The very successful research on improving the initial mail response rate has developed strategies that promise to help control costs in 2000. Although in- creasing the initial response rate may leave the differential undercount un- changed-or even exacerbate it somewhat a higher initial response rate means better-quality data, fewer nonrespondents to follow up, and better control over cost. Techniques that control costs also potentially make resources available for reducing the differential undercount. Research should now focus on techniques that have potential to improve coverage within households or to reduce the differ- ential undercount. The current state of promising research on improving fostering, incorporating the telephone and other technologies into the design of the census, evaluating the tool kit, and developing and evaluating outreach and promotion activities makes it clear that research and development in these areas must con- tinue beyond the 1995 census test. Although this development is likely to con- tinue in the normal transition after the mid-decade census test for topics with an obvious operational component (such as use of the telephone, data capture, and design of census forms), sustained research on other basic topics, such as im- provements in fostering, may require that the Census Bureau give more attention to research and development in the latter half of this decade than has been given in the latter half of past decades. The remainder of this chapter discusses and makes specific recommenda- tions on a range of topics related to response and coverage issues. We consider research completed and currently under way and propose directions for future investigations. Four major themes emerge from our discussion.
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RESPONSE AND COVERAGE 51 1. Focus on reducing the differential undercount. We recommend planning and limited experimentation now so that the most promising methods for reduc- ing the differential undercount can, where feasible, be given operational trials and experimental and cost evaluation in the 1995 census test. It is important that the proposals embodied in the tool kit be evaluated or tested in 1995. Focusing research on methods that may reduce the differential undercount is important given the limitations of resources and time, and it can be justified by the more advanced state of research on improving mail response rates. Analyses of 1980 and 1990 census data that include operational variables, such as the date on which a case was received and how the form was completed (household informant or enumerator), could supplement ongoing experiments by characterizing past re- sponse patterns. We urge the Census Bureau to devote resources to analyses of existing data and smaller studies whenever potentially valuable information can be obtained through such alternatives to large, expensive experiments. 2. Examine the implications of structured reliance on multiple instruments and response modes. Past censuses have largely relied on a single instrument, the paper questionnaire, which was usually self-administered but was sometimes administered by an enumerator. The 2000 census is likely to use a paper instru- ment and a computer-assisted instrument for nonresponse follow-up. (A differ- e~ computer-assisted instrument would be used for the integrated coverage mea- surement reinterview.) These instruments will also be used in different modes: the paper instrument used in the mailout will usually be self-administered but will sometimes be completed by enumerators (either in an interview or, possibly, with neighbors or by observation in last-ditch operations). The computer-assisted instrument developed for integrated coverage measurement is likely to be used in two modes telephone and face-to-face. The different instruments and response modes can affect results in two important ways: they can affect the likelihood that a household will be enumerated (coverage of households), and they can affect the responses obtained during enumeration (coverage within households). Proposals to make census forms widely available and accessible raise similar substantive issues such procedures may contribute different amounts to overall response in different areas and create operational problems, such as how to match records and eliminate duplicates. 3. Go local. The targeting model and tool kit proposed in the Census Bureau's research program provide for localized, decentralized outreach and enumeration activities. But more may be needed. Because undercounted groups are clustered and because their reasons for not participating may vary greatly by locality, reducing the differential undercount will probably require a major reori- entation in the Census Bureau's practice. Outreach and enumeration activities may need to be more decentralized. Even when they know where to find under- counted groups, staff in national and large regional offices may not have the credibility or contacts needed to motivate members of these groups to participate. Gaining access to local media markets and learning how to localize outreach,
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52 COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE promotion, and enumeration should be central to planning for the 1995 census test, as should the development of designs to evaluate the success and to estimate the costs of such efforts. Good procedures for eliminating duplicate records (see Chapter 2) are also needed if the Census Bureau is to be able to manage more flexible enumeration procedures that respond to local needs (e.g., filling out a form in the shopping mall) without losing accuracy. 4. Evaluate alternatives, considering their cost and contributions to reduc- ing the differential undercount. Evaluating and comparing alternative strategies requires both solid research design and attention to costs. Controlled experimen- tal designs could be augmented by studies that use planned variation in methods to provide a comparative basis for assessing the usefulness of operational proce- dures. The environment within which costs are evaluated will be very different in 2000 than it was in 1990. If new design and implementation techniques yield a higher initial mail response, households that are followed up by other means may be less cooperative on average than nonresponding households in 1990. And as the primary response improves, it becomes more difficult to estimate the impact of follow-up techniques in experimental studies, because the exact characteristics of mail nonrespondents are likely to be affected by the census climate and be- cause even optimal follow-up techniques will affect only a small percentage of cases. Nevertheless, efforts to determine the relative costs of alternatives should be an integral part of their evaluation. ROSTER IMPROVEMENT RESEARCH Promotion, outreach, and increasing the number of ways households can be counted (described in later sections) will probably have their greatest effect on coverage of households, not on coverage of people within households. Approxi- mately 32 percent of people who were not enumerated in the 1990 census were in households that were enumerated (Childers, 1993), so improving the quality of coverage within households-households that are increasingly complex and di- verse is crucial. Within households, coverage errors are response errors. Im- proving coverage of persons within households and reducing the contribution of within-household coverage errors to the differential undercount requires re- ducing response error, because it is household respondents who implement the residence rules as they fill out the census form or tale with a Census Bureau enumerator. Improving the quality of the initial count obtained by household rosters that is, reducing omissions and erroneous enumerations has the im- portant general benefit of reducing the variance of coverage measurement. As with other methods for improving coverage, enhancing the quality of coverage in the initial count should help control costs and develop support for the credibility of subsequent estimation. But in addition to these general benefits, methods of roster- ing that respond to changes in the structure of households in the United States promise to help reduce the differential undercount, and at a relatively low cost.
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RESPONSE AND COVERAGE 53 Attention to methods of fostering assumes greater importance for 2000 for another reason: the 2000 census will use several different instruments adminis- tered in different modes, and it is important that the different instruments (and modes) used in obtaining the count provide comparable results. Past censuses relied on a single instrument, the paper questionnaire. This instrument was usually completed by a household informant. But during follow-up operations, enumerators might administer the form in an interview or, in extreme cases, complete it by observation. The 1990 census form used an "include-exclude" list of 13 items to instruct the household informant whom to include or exclude from the roster of household members. As implemented in 1990, the include-exclude list was designed to be used in a self-administered instrument, that is, the list was to be read by the respondent who was completing the form. This approach relies on a motivated respondent to review and implement the Census Bureau's defini- tion of who is a member of the household. The include-exclude list thus presents problems even on a self-administered form, because many respondents will not read the list. In addition, it is not clear how one might effectively translate the include- exclude list to another data collection mode. Like respondents who completed the paper instrument themselves, enumerators who administered the 1990 form as an interview probably varied in whether they read the include-exclude list. The problems of formally adapting the include-exclude list for an interview are suggested by the procedures adopted in the Mail and Telephone Mode Test (described in more detail in the next section), in which the include-exclude list was available to the interviewer on a help screen; the rules were not integrated into the structure of the questions that respondents were asked. Although such an implementation may make the results of the self-administered and telephone versions more comparable if neither respondents nor interviewers read the in- clude-exclude list this comparability probably has a cost in validity. Developing improved methods for fostering household members that pro- vide comparable results with different instruments (paper and computer-assisted) and across modes (mail, telephone, and field enumerator) assumes critical impor- tance for the 2000 census. The 2000 census will incorporate a structured reliance on different instruments and modes of data collection: self-administered instru- ments, paper or computer-assisted personal interviewing instruments adminis- tered by enumerators in the field (e.g., as part of a "blitz" enumeration or non- response follow-up), and paper or computer-assisted instruments administered by telephone as part of nonresponse follow-up. (Computer-assisted telephone inter- viewing and computer-assisted personal interviews will also be used as part of integrated coverage measurement, and we turn to this issue in the discussion.) Without careful instrument design, there are likely to be substantively important differences in the results obtained by the different instruments and, in some cases, by the same instrument used in different modes (e.g., paper instruments may be self-administered or used by an enumerator).
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54 COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE Planning for the use of different instruments and modes permits better solu- tions than simply accepting ad hoc adaptations of the self-administered form by individual enumerators, as necessarily happened in the past. In producing a final estimate from integrated coverage measurement, it is important to be able to treat counts for different blocks as comparable, even though the proportion of a block that is enumerated by self-administered form, by face-to-face enumeration, or by computer-assisted telephone interview during nonresponse follow-up will vary. Obtaining counts that are comparable across instruments and interview modes requires developing fostering questions that can be implemented similarly on paper and computer-assisted instruments and for which the instrument and mode differences that do remain are tested and understood. Several research projects that are under way address questions that must be answered in order to increase the accuracy of coverage within households, and these projects can also provide insights that will be needed to develop fostering techniques that can be implemented in comparable ways across modes. The Living Situation Survey, cognitive research on residence rules, and the National Coverage Test (the 1994 census test) are essential first steps in this research. But a sustained effort will be needed to develop the instruments that the 2000 census will require. This is particularly true because the results from the Living Situa- tion Survey and the National Coverage Test will not be fully analyzed by the time the instrument for the 1995 census test must be made final. The priorities for future research and other recommendations are discussed at the end of this section. Living Situation Survey and Cognitive Research on Residence Rules Various complex living household situations unrelated people sharing the same living quarters, children in shared custody arrangements, people with no stable place of residence, and others pose special problems for respondents attempting to apply the Census Bureau's residence rules accurately. The Census Bureau initiated research on these problems by considering the roster questions used in the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). This research found that, on average, more black males were listed as usual residents when respondents were not required to give names of those added to the roster (Kearney et al., 19931. This research also suggested that several characteristics increased the likelihood that someone listed on a roster would be described as a usual resident: contributing money to the household, considering themselves a mem- ber of the household, not staying other places often, and staying in the household many nights in the past month. Many of the issues raised in the SIPP roster research are examined further in the Living Situation Survey (LSS), a national sample of approximately 1,000 households with an oversample of households with minority populations and renters. The LSS interview uses 13 questions to list people with many different kinds of attachments to a household. Subsequent questions then attempt to deter
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RESPONSE AND COVERAGE 55 mine which people on the list are usual residents of the household. Data from the LSS should provide a systematic description of a wide range of complex house- hold arrangements and an evaluation of the effectiveness of different strategies for determining who resides in a household. Although these data are only recently available, initial analyses address ques- tions important both to improving coverage and to reducing the differential undercount. For example, asking "Who slept here last night?" and then "Who lives here but wasn't here last night?" identifies approximately 99 percent of those later named as usual residents (Sweet, 1994:10~. These questions appear, however, to capture males, blacks, Hispanics, and those ages 18-29 at a lower rate than others (Sweet, 1994:13~. This research also examines how people understand terms commonly used in fostering household members. Meaning is often flexible and contextual, and this poses potential problems in wording questions for a census. The LSS interview asked respondents about the meaning of live and stay. The cognitive research on residence rules extended this line of inquiry using cognitive interviews with about 30 people to explore how they understood residence concepts. There appears to be some regional variation in the meaning of live and stay: respon- dents in the Northeast and the West judge the words as different more frequently than do respondents in the South and the Midwest. It seems that the words live and stay alone cannot be used to distinguish between permanent and temporary residents. Not surprisingly, technical vocabulary such as usual residence is not used spontaneously by respondents; respondents are likely to interpret technical words as referring to more familiar concepts (Gerber and Bates, 1994~. Full results from the LSS will probably not be complete before the instru- ment for the 1995 census test is final, but combining results that are available with those of the National Coverage Test (see below) could lead to major innova- tions with considerable promise for improving coverage within households and reducing the differential undercount. By building on this research for the 1995 census test, effects on coverage (including erroneous enumerations) can be as- sessed. For example, approximately 5 percent of the people listed in response to each of the two initial roster questions discussed above are not usual residents (Sweet, 1994), so extending these methods to the census requires efficient ways of identifying people who might be listed at more than one housing unit. The results from this research are very promising, but the complexity of fostering will require that research both on instrument design and on how to allocate those listed on a census form to households continues beyond the 1995 census test. National Coverage Test The National Coverage Test compares two different approaches to counting people within households. One instrument is a respondent-friendly form with content similar to that used in 1990 (and the Simplified Questionnaire Test, see
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56 COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE below). The other instrument collects an extended roster (e.g., by asking respon- dents to list ". . . everyone living or staying at this address on Saturday January 29" and ". . . anyone else who you consider to be a member of this household") and then asks questions to identify which of the people listed should not be counted as usual residents (e.g., "Is there another place where this person lives or staysail. The first form corresponds to the traditional practice of requiring re- spondents to implement the Census Bureau's residence rules (via the include- exclude list) in deciding who to list. This approach asks people to report them- selves where the rules say they should be counted; that is, it is a de jure enumeration. The second form does not use an include-exclude list and instead requests information about people who lived or stayed at the address on Census Day or who are considered by respondents to be members of the household. The form also requests information that enables determination of whether those on the extended roster satisfy the residence rules (de jure). In the National Coverage Test, a reinterview will be used to estimate the impact of the extended roster form on gross coverage error, which includes erroneous enumerations and missed persons. The effect of the form difference on mail response rates will also be estimated. This innovative and important experi- ment provides the first trial of the "collect de facto, tabulate de jure" method- perhaps more precisely described as "collect de facto and de jure, tabulate de jure" that was discussed as a possibility but not implemented for the 1990 census (Schwede, 1993; CEC Associates, 1987:261. Discussion and Recommendations Better instrument design is needed to help respondents provide more accu- rate answers. Improving the operational form of residence rules in the various instruments is especially attractive because it could both improve the quality of the initial count and reduce the differential undercount among responding house- holds-both at relatively low cost. In addition, the new approach to fostering should be designed to give comparable results whether a household informant completes a paper instrument or an enumerator interviews the informant with a computer-assisted instrument. The results from the LSS and the cognitive research on residence rules, together with the ethnographic evaluations conducted for the 1990 census (see discussion below), can contribute to improving the conceptualizations incorpo- rated in the Census Bureau's residence rules (see, for example, Bureau of the Census, 1987), as well as their application in fostering questions. Because of the timing of these different streams of research, the instrument designed for the National Coverage Test was able to build on the Census Bureau's experience in designing the LSS and the cognitive research on residence rules but was not able to incorporate fully the results of that research, which is still being analyzed. If the results of the National Coverage Test are promising, the development of the
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RESPONSE AND COVERAGE 57 extended roster form will require research continuing after the 1995 census test. Improvements in coverage from changes in fostering are likely to be bought at a relatively low cost. In addition to bringing together the results of these parallel lines of research, this extended research program must take on the important task of designing a version of the instrument to be used with computer-assisted tele- phone and personal interviews during nonresponse follow-up and estimating ef- fects of various instruments and modes of administration. For example, if the telephone will be used for nonresponse follow-up in 2000, the comparability of self-administered paper instruments and computer- assisted instruments administered by telephone must be evaluated and measured before the census. This evaluation would not necessarily require a study of the magnitude of the response improvement studies discussed below or the National Coverage Test. Similar tests should determine the effects of having the census form administered by an enumerator, as would happen in a blitz enumeration. After instrument and mode effects are first estimated, it is likely that all instru- ments will require modification and small-scale testing (such as cognitive inter- views), and that mode effects will need to be estimated again. Thus, the schedule for this research must allow time for several cycles. Although the Census Bureau did not develop an instrument simultaneously for a paper self-administered form and computer-assisted interview (as recom- mended in our interim report), it seems likely that the extended roster approach used in the National Coverage Test will be less susceptible to differences in the mode of the instrument than the 1990 form probably was. This is because the instrument does not rely on the respondents' reading of an include-exclude list, but instead asks direct questions about the relevant criteria. Continued develop- ment of the census form should consider that the 2000 census will rely on several instruments and modes of data collection. Because of the way instruments will be used, what might be, strictly speaking, instrument effects and mode effects will be somewhat confounded; of the two, instrument effects are likely to be greater and to have a more profound impact on within-household coverage than pure mode effects that occur when completely identical questions are adminis- tered via different modes. Information on the presence and size of instrument and mode effects on within-household coverage will be important in specifying the models used in mixed-mode coverage measurement methods. The challenge of these new methods of fostering extends beyond that of designing new instruments. Processing programs must be developed to allocate those listed on the rosters for a final count. Tabulating de jure using a roster of persons who "reside" at the address or are otherwise associated with the house- hold and additional information collected at the time of fostering is a substantial task in itself. A roster that increases the likelihood that everyone will be counted almost certainly increases the chance that some will be counted more than once. The extended roster used in the National Coverage Test requests the alternate address of anyone listed who also has another residence. Assuming similar
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RESPONSE AND COVERAGE 85 Questionnaire items that apply OMB guidelines and ask respondents to claim a single race suggest a conceptualization of race (and ethnicity) as something fixed, inherited, and unambiguous. But contemporary racial and ethnic self- identification seems to be more fluid, situational, and continuum-like in its cogni- tive organization. The United States is starting to look more like Brazil or Tahiti, among the many places in the world where fluid racial and ethnic identity is the norm and where single-category identifications are not easily reconciled with personal conceptions of race. As immigration patterns bring more people from these societies (e.g., the Dominican Republic) to the United States,. patterns of identification are shifting. The Census Bureau should continue to support research on questions about racial and ethnic identity6, and policy makers should clarify the purpose of such questions. Recent and ongoing activities have begun to address these issues. The Census Bureau and Statistics Canada jointly sponsored an international confer- ence on the measurement of ethnicity in April 1992 (Statistics Canada and Bu- reau of the Census, 1993~. OMB has convened an interagency committee to study federal standards on the collection and reporting of race and Hispanic origin data by federal agencies. At the request of OMB, the Committee on National Statistics held a workshop in February 1994 to review federal experi- ence with these standards. Also, the Panel on Census Requirements in the Year 2000 and Beyond is investigating the subject of racial and ethnic classification with regard to content needs in the decennial census and other demographic programs. The complexity of racial and ethnic identity causes methodological problems of racial and ethnic misclassification in the decennial census. The effects of misclassification on differential undercount are not well-understood. But the Census Bureau will continue to feel pressure to solve these problems as long as resource flows to ethnic community organizations depend on the accurate classi- fication and counting of their members and as long as the Voting Rights Act demands single-race reporting. We recognize that these are extremely difficult methodological problems to solve; we suggest, among other things, that the Census Bureau consider experimenting with classification schemes that enable respondents to check off more than one race category. We further suggest that the Census Bureau sponsor additional research on the question of ethnic identity, utilizing the intellectual resources of cognitive anthropology (in which much relevant research has already been done) and sociology. We note in passing the importance of the cognitive research that has accom- panied the Living Situation Survey; this research is being conducted primarily to develop new ways of defining the residence rules (Gerber and Bates, 1994; 6 The Census Bureau has conducted or sponsored studies of the effects of the order of race and Hispanic origin questions on item nonresponse and race reporting (see Bates et al., 1994).
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86 COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE Sweet, 1994~. A similar program of research should be undertaken on the subject of racial and ethnic identity. Recommendation 3.8: The Census Bureau should undertake a program of research in cognitive anthropology, sociology, and psychology that will contribute to the development of more acceptable racial and ethnic identification questions. The policy recommendations that emerged from the ethnographic studies are potentially of great value for the 2000 census. We believe that the Census Bureau has made major progress in developing strategies of outreach and enumeration that are based on the ethnographic evidence particularly strategies that involve localized, customized methods of recruiting enumerators drawn from minority populations, providing ongoing outreach support to local minority organizations, and using the greater trust and recognition of these organizations by hard-to- enumerate populations as a basis for a partnership in census-taking. Work must now continue to transform these policy recommendations into operational com- ponents that can be tested and evaluated in the 1995 census test. TOOL KIT AND PLANNING DATABASE The key census design components being developed to improve coverage and consequently reduce the differential undercount of hard-to-enumerate popu- lations are the tool kit and the planning database. The tool kit comprises the set of special enumeration methods and such strategies as questionnaire assistance and targeted outreach and promotion efforts. Some tool-kit methods for ex- ample, team enumeration, blitz tactics, and bilingual enumerators would be available for deployment by regional offices in hard-to-enumerate areas. Use of the tool kit could also involve specialized outreach procedures and decisions at the headquarters level on mailout-mailback procedures, allocation of staff and resources, and differential pay rates and incentives for census workers. The planning database (formerly called the targeting database in Census Bureau documents) would be used either informally or with a predictive model (the targeting model)-in the 2000 census to preidentify geographic areas in which enumeration barriers are likely to be present and deployment of the special enumeration methods in the tool kit might particularly improve coverage. The planning database could be used, for example, to identify linguistically isolated areas to which Spanish forms should be mailed, to target recruiting messages, and to tailor promotion and marketing materials. Development of the tool kit and the planning database draws on the findings of interdivisional working groups at the Census Bureau that were charged with identifying barriers to enumeration and special methods that might overcome these barriers. The final report of the Tool Kit Working Group (Bureau of the Census, 1994b) recommended tools for further consideration for research and
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RESPONSE AND COVERAGE 87 possible use in the 2000 census. Seven candidate tools for use by district or regional offices have been identified for testing and evaluation in the 1995 census test (Bureau of the Census, 1994d): 1. Blitz enumeration. The district office would employ crews of specially trained enumerators who would conduct enumeration activities in a very com- pressed time schedule. 2. Use of community-based organizations. The regional office would iden- tify local organizations that are willing to conduct questionnaire assistance or outreach activities. 3. Use of rental companies. In areas with high concentrations of rental units, regional offices would ask moving companies, resident managers, managers of temporary storage space, truck rental companies, and others who provide ser- vices to renters and movers, to participate in census promotion. Participants could display census posters and publicity materials, as well as distribute census promotional items, such as key chains and calendars, to their customers. 4. Use of local facilitators. The district office would have the option of using either paid or volunteer local facilitators, such as community activists, religious leaders, gang leaders, and other recognized local figures, to facilitate the enumeration for example, by introducing enumerators to households, translat- ing when necessary, convincing people to cooperate, and locating hidden living quarters. 5. Promotion focus on confidentiality. The regional or district office would identify geographic areas in which greater attention should be given to confiden- tiality concerns. In such areas, confidentiality would become the key theme in outreach and promotion efforts. The regional or district office would develop messages that speak to the specific fears and concerns of the local population. 6. Assistance centers in large multiunit buildings. District offices would open and staff booths in large multiunit buildings to enumerate residents and assist residents in completing their census questionnaires. 7. Team enumeration. More than one enumerator would work in an area because of concerns about safety or because additional enumerators could assist in locating the units or in persuading respondents to cooperate. An eighth tool, multilingual telephone assistance, was identified but will not be used in 1995 because of insufficient need at the test sites. This method will be developed for use in the 2000 census. The 1995 census test will also include four tools requiring coordination by census headquarters: 1. Urban updatelenumerate. Headquarters would work with regional of- fices to identify selected areas for urban update/enumerate methodologies instead of attempting to conduct regular mailout-mailback operations. Enumerators would canvass selected areas to update the address list and to enumerate people they find while canvassing.
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88 COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE 2. Questionnaires in languages other than English and Spanish. Headquar- ters would develop questionnaires as well as guides in languages other than English and Spanish. Regional offices would be responsible for using these materials with appropriate populations during nonresponse follow-up and update/ enumerate. 3. Unaddressed questionnaires. Census questionnaires in various languages would be available in places where the historically undercounted tend to congre- gate. 4. Mailout of Spanish-language questionnaires. Headquarters would mail questionnaires in Spanish to areas with high concentrations of linguistically iso- lated Spanish-speaking households. We strongly encourage the Census Bureau to examine these tool-kit methods in the 1995 census test. Some of the above tools have been used in past censuses (e.g., blitz and team enumeration, use of community-based organizations), but their cost-effectiveness is not well documented. The Census Bureau has little or no research experience with most of the proposed tools, and testing in 1995 should therefore provide important imformation. We note, however, that the application of the tool kit needs further specifica- tion. It should not be assumed, for example, that tools could only be used in efforts to improve the initial counts in particular geographic areas. Some tools, especially if they are expensive to implement, might be used most effectively during nonresponse follow-up or integrated coverage measurement. The applica- tion of tool-kit methods in different stages of census operations would require coordination. Similarly, some tools may be more appropriate for identifying and including housing units; others may be suited for motivating and reaching indi- viduals. The planning database has an important role to play in guiding application of the tool kit to ensure that tools are used systematically and only when needed and that their use is recorded so that, when relevant, this information can be taken into account in integrated coverage measurement. Current plans for the 1995 census test call for a tool to be assigned to a given area if that area exceeds predefined threshold values (e.g., mail nonresponse rates) that are set using judgments from experienced field personnel. The Tool Kit Working Group's report (Bureau of the Census, 1994b) at- tempts to identify the role that the tools would play as components of a full census design and to suggest the need for their evaluation. But these suggestions are not yet fully developed, and there does not appear to be a formal evaluation plan for all of these methods or for the smaller set included in the 1995 census test. The need for formal evaluation of the components of the tool kit is similar to that for evaluating the effects of different instruments or modes. When multiple data collection strategies are used, particularly in conjunction with nonresponse
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RESPONSE AND COVERAGE 89 follow-up and integrated coverage measurement, it is important to be able to estimate the impact of the different strategies. The first step is more complete definition of the tools themselves. Subse- quent evaluation of tool-kit methods should include information on their effec- tiveness (yield, impact on the differential undercount) and cost. Information on cost will be needed to choose among competing strategies. Although full experi- mental evaluation of components of the tool kit used in the 1995 census test is probably not possible, it should still be possible to plan comparisons and varia- tion across sites or areas within sites. Posttest evaluation surveys that ask people whether they were aware of outreach and promotion efforts can help in evaluat- ing the effectiveness of such efforts. Information on effectiveness and cost will be needed to inform decisions after 1995. At present, the planning database includes block-level tabulations of 1990 census content, mail return rates, and information from administrative records. We understand that the Census Bureau intends to add recently acquired crime statistics (compiled at the census tract level) and more current administrative records data to the targeting database for the 1995 census test. The effectiveness of the planning database will depend on its being maintained with up-to-date information. Commercial databases and local administrative record systems may be good sources of block-level supplemental information. Both the tool kit and the planning database represent substantial develop- ment efforts, and developing a formal predictive model for use with the database requires even larger investments. It seems very likely that the development and testing of the tool kit, planning database, and targeting model will continue after the 1995 census test, and planning should take this schedule into account. Ex- perimental evaluation of some components of the tool kit (e.g., blitz enumera- tion) could be incorporated into census tests after 1995 or carried out in conjunc- tion with special-purpose tests, special censuses, or current Census Bureau surveys. OUTREACH AND PROMOTION The outreach and promotion program for the 1990 census was the most intensive to date for a decennial census. For the first time, a multifaceted mass media campaign addressed several traditionally undercounted groups as well as the general public. The community-based Census Awareness and Products Pro- gram was enhanced and began operations farther in advance of Census Day than in 1980. Programs were conducted that worked through national civic and reli- gious organizations, schools, Head Start agencies, governmental units, and busi- ness organizations. Based on an analysis of the data collected in the 1990 Outreach and Evalua- tion Survey, Bates and Whitford (1991) concluded that the Census Bureau's 1990 outreach and promotion program achieved many of its goals. The Advertising
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90 COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE Council's mass media campaign received wide exposure, and it achieved signifi- cant media presence around Census Day in the six media markets in which the coverage was monitored. By Census Day, over 90 percent of the population had recently heard or read something about the census, although the campaign was less effective in reaching blacks than whites and Hispanics. Ironically, the differ- ential success of national outreach in raising levels of census awareness may have had the unintended effect of exacerbating problems of differential coverage. This experience underscores the importance of outreach to local communities with hard-to-enumerate populations. Outreach and publicity may also help the census mail response rate; data from the Outreach and Evaluation Survey indicate that in 1990 the mail return rates of respondents with high awareness of census operations and knowledge of census uses were 15 to 20 percentage points higher than respondents with low awareness and knowledge (Bates and Whitford, 1991~. (We cite these results with the standard caution that the question of whether these associations reflect causal relationships cannot be answered without considering potential interaction effects and controlling for other variables in a designed experiment.) Neverthe- less, the mail response rate in 1990 was 10 percentage points below that in the 1980 census, and the differential undercount between blacks and others was the highest since the Census Bureau began estimating coverage in 1940 (U.S. Gen- eral Accounting Office, 1992~. Although there are undoubtedly many social factors that contributed to the response rate decline, it is also possible that the Census Bureau's 1990 outreach and promotion campaign did a better job of announcing the census than it did of persuading people to participate. Regard- less, it seems clear that an even more intensive and effective-outreach and promotion program will need to be designed, tested, and successfully imple- mented in the 2000 census if the Census Bureau is to prevent further erosion of census participation rates that began declining in 1970. Responsibility for Decennial Census Outreach and Promotion The Census Bureau does not have a single, permanent office that is respon- sible for decennial census outreach and promotion. Instead, in the past two censuses, it has opened a temporary Census Promotion Office two years prior to the census and then closed the office after census operations were completed. It appears that the primary function of this office is to coordinate the media cam- paign with the Advertising Council and to oversee various national outreach programs conducted to promote the upcoming census. (The Census Bureau has a permanent Public Information Office, but it is not directly involved in decennial census promotion.) In every census since 1950, the Census Bureau has relied on the Advertising Council to design and conduct the media campaign. (Working through advertis- ing agencies that volunteer their time, the Advertising Council regularly conducts
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RESPONSE AND COVERAGE 91 mass media advertising campaigns on a pro bono basis for government and nonprofit agencies.) In 1990 the Advertising Council for the first time designed multiple campaigns to target selected minorities (blacks, Hispanics, and Asian and Pacific Islanders) as well as the general public. The principal national outreach program to undercounted groups is the Na- tional Services Program. Conducted by the Data User Services Division, the program is a continuing outreach and data dissemination program aimed at na- tional organizations that represent undercounted minorities. Its goal is to secure the support of the national organizations and their local and regional chapters in efforts to encourage participation by the minority communities they represent. The Census Bureau also conducts a variety of national outreach activities close to Census Day; these include programs that target a variety of organizations, schools, governmental units and agencies, and private-sector corporations. The principal program for local outreach in 1990 was the Census Awareness and Products Program. Administered by the Census Bureau's Field Division, this program was typically activated at least one year prior to Census Day in local areas and deactivated shortly thereafter. In 1990 there were about 280 staff across the country, working out of the regional field offices. The Census Bureau's census outreach and promotion program does not in- clude a structured plan for conducting research and development work. The absence of a permanent office responsible for census outreach and promotion militates against sustaining an ongoing research program during the decade be- tween censuses. Also, the Advertising Council does not permit its clients to undertake or commission media research on their own. The Census Bureau does, however, undertake retrospective research to evaluate census outreach and pro- motion. Examples from the 1990 census include the Outreach Evaluation Sur- vey, the Telephone Survey of Census Participation, the Survey of 1990 Census Participation, and the National Service Program Structured Debriefings. The Census Bureau's Public Information Office has recently funded some focus groups with young black, Hispanic, and Asian males with the hope of identifying ways to reach these groups and motivate them to participate in the census. The Year 2000 Research and Development staff is also involved in outreach and is considering a joint venture with state and local governments to improve outreach at the local level. We are concerned that the responsibility for outreach and promotion is split among several different units within the Census Bureau. We believe that the effectiveness and efficiency of the Census Bureau's census outreach and promo- tion program could be improved if a permanent office were established and staffed with advertising and public relations professionals. This office would be responsible for planning, researching, and developing all outreach and promotion activities and for overseeing the implementation of the decennial census pro- gram. It should be a permanent and nonpartisan office to provide continuity between censuses and to monitor an ongoing national and local outreach and
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92 COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE promotion program during the decade. Because the Census Bureau already has a permanent Public Information Office, we suggest that the Census Bureau con- sider expanding the mission of this office to include responsibility for the decen- nial census outreach and promotion program. Although the establishment of a permanent decennial census outreach and promotion office would centralize the overall responsibility for outreach and promotion activities, it does not follow that such activities would become more focused on the national rather than the local level. Nor should they, as we argue below; a principal objective of the new central office should be to enhance outreach efforts at the local level. Just as the centralized Field Division is respon- sible for all data collection operations conducted by the regional offices, so a centralized census outreach and promotion office would design, monitor, and support all field outreach activities conducted through those regional offices. The one outreach and promotion activity that should not be consolidated under the purview of the new office is evaluation research. To preserve indepen- dence, this type of research should continue to be undertaken by other units within the Census Bureau, such as the Center for Survey Methods Research. Recommendation 3.9: The Census Bureau should assign overall respon sibility for decennial census outreach and promotion to a centralized, permanent office. The Census Bureau should consider expanding the mission of the extant Public Information Office to include this charge. Evaluation of outreach and promotion programs should be conducted by an independent unit within the Census Bureau. National Media Campaign An important issue confronting the Census Bureau is whether to continue to rely on the Advertising Council to design and implement the national media campaign. As noted above, the Advertising Council's rules prohibit clients from commissioning any media research on their own. It also does not permit clients to supplement the pro bono campaign with any paid advertising. Thus, the Census Bureau is entirely dependent on the Advertising Council's pro bono campaign for its media research and advertising. Because the Advertising Council depends on volunteer labor, we are con cerned that its pro bono campaign may not include the same level of media research that large commercial advertisers have found beneficial. For example, the leading advertising agencies evaluate commercials by using sophisticated technology that continuously measures a focus group's response to a proposed commercial message. However, this type of research is expensive and may not be included within the scope of a pro bono campaign. We also understand that there is a growing feeling among certain charitable organizations that national public service announcement campaigns are losing their effectiveness. One theory about this change is that U.S. society has become
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RESPONSE AND COVERAGE 93 so diverse and complex that people are increasingly narrowing their focus to the community in which they live. As a consequence, there is a movement among pro bono advertisers away from the national campaigns toward increased use of local campaigns. Certainly, the Census Bureau must continue to rely on public service an- nouncements run on a pro bono basis; it would be prohibitively expensive to launch an equivalent campaign on a strictly fee-for-service basis. However, it could discontinue use of the Advertising Council and instead work directly with local and regional agencies. This approach would allow the Census Bureau to undertake a paid media research program to identify the most effective advertis- ing messages. It would also mean that the national campaign would include a collection of local and regional campaigns that might be more effective in reach- ing the communities to which they are directed. Finally, this approach would allow the Census Bureau to supplement pro bono advertising with paid advertising especially in hard-to-enumerate com- munities where a pro bono campaign may not provide sufficient or appropriate media exposure (Committee on National Statistics, 1978~. We believe that the additional cost involved may be more than offset by the increase in response among the traditionally undercounted groups, with a corresponding reduction in the differential undercount. We note in this regard that Statistics Canada is a strong proponent of paid advertising; it was discontinued in Canada in 1986 as a cost-saving measure, but then promptly reinstated after a decline in participation. Recommendation 3.10: The Census Bureau should evaluate the costs and benefits of alternatives to the use of the Advertising Council to conduct the 2000 census media campaign. Some alternative options are working directly with local and regional agencies, undertaking paid media research, and supplementing pro bono advertising with paid ad- vertising in hard-to-enumerate localities. Cooperative Ventures With State and Local Governments The Census Bureau has undertaken a number of initiatives designed to im- prove the level of cooperation between its field operations and state and local governments, critical nodes in the Census Bureau's efforts to go local. These efforts span a range of tasks, from outreach and promotion of the decennial census to the use of state or locally maintained administrative records for the purpose of improving coverage (Collins, 1994~. Some of these efforts will be put in place during the 1995 census test in order to assess their effectiveness, imple- mented by "census advisors" who will be placed in local offices in the test communities in order to oversee liaison programs of all kinds. We understand that, in the 1995 census test sites of Oakland, California, and the six parishes in northwestern Louisiana, the census advisors will be district office employees of
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94 COUNTING PEOPLE IN THE INFORMATION AGE the Census Bureau. Discussions are ongoing regarding whether the census advi- sors in the remaining two test sites Patterson, New Jersey, and New Haven, Connecticut will be district office staff or local people appointed by the mayor or city council. With respect to outreach and promotion activities, current plans build on the 1990 experience, during which "complete count committees" formed in various localities to boost the coverage of the decennial census. These committees were responsible for tailoring local press coverage of the census and for maintaining contact with grass-roots organizations and advocacy groups with particular knowledge of hard-to-enumerate populations. For the 1995 census test, these activities will be expanded, formalized, and coordinated by the census advisors. This effort is of great importance, for the more effective the Census Bureau's ties to local organizations involved in service delivery to poor people, migrants, immigrants, and other groups traditionally undercounted, the better the coverage will be. Future census tests may provide an opportunity to assess how much complete count committees and other outreach activities cost and how much they contribute to better coverage. Census advisors will also be responsible for coordinating local information and personnel resources that can assist in augmenting the Master Address File. Local officials will be sworn in so that they can be given access to Census Bureau address lists and held accountable for maintaining confidentiality.7 Thereafter, the Census Bureau plans to (a) share census address lists with state and local governments officials, particularly those in city planning departments; (b) solicit block boundary suggestions from local officials familiar with the contours of neighborhoods; (c) hire city employees to work on address list verification; (d) work with knowledgeable local officials on administrative records that are lo- cally generated and maintained that can be used to improve coverage; and (e) develop an effective program for office space procurement, a perennial problem for the census staff. These strategies will, we believe, capitalize on the knowl- edge base that resides at the local level, improving outreach, promotion, and the quality of address lists and encourage much-needed federal-state-local coopera- tion. The Census Bureau plans to enlist the support of local officials to help in the planning of the 1995 census test, particularly where blitz enumeration is con- cerned. City employees who know the hard-to-count populations in their locali- ties will be able to assist enumeration teams, making it more likely that poor people, immigrants, and internal migrants will be counted the first time. These individuals will be working under the direction of the census advisors during the test and will, in this capacity, become part of the planning apparatus for using the 7 For the 2000 census, legislative changes will be required in order to make it possible to expand this cooperative program nationwide.
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RESPONSE AND COVERAGE 95 tool-kit strategies for had-to-enumerate groups. Clear guidelines and role defini- tions may be needed to ensure that the involvement of local officials with en- forcement responsibilities is accomplished in a manner that preserves the integ- r~ty of the census operation. In an effort to evaluate the Census Bureau's program of cooperative ventures with state and local governments, a series of debriefings with participants are being planned for the 1995 census test. The debriefings will serve to obtain information from program participants, state and local government officials, and the Census Bureau staff from the regional offices on their reactions to the pro- gram and what effects they experienced on timing, operations, and logistics. The Census Bureau will also meet with representatives from localities that elected not to participate in the program to discuss their reasons for not participating as well as review the reasons why some decided to participate only in certain aspects of the program. Cooperative ventures of this kind are responsive to our general call for a strategy of going local, in the sense that they make use of existing ties and local expertise to encourage cooperation with the census. We believe they should be seen as complementary to programs already in place (particularly the Census Awareness and Products Program), rather than substitutions for them. Recommendation 3.11: The Census Bureau should evaluate the pro- grams for state and local cooperation that will be overseen by census advisors in the 1995 census test areas in order to collect from these experimental initiatives those programs most likely to (a) reduce the cost of the decennial census (particularly by improving mail response rates) and (b) reduce the differential undercount. Preservation of the Census Awareness and Products Program should, however, be a high priority, not to be superseded by this new initiative for improving state and local cooperation.
Representative terms from entire chapter: