additional mail contacts.3 Savings estimates based solely on the 1995 census test are probably too optimistic, since the effect of any questionnaire improvements are likely to be less in 2000 than in the 1995 census test because the initial response rates will be higher. At higher response rates, every additional percentage point of improvement is more costly to achieve.

There would also be considerable operational complexity in sending replacement questionnaires to nonresponding households over the entire United States, as would be required in 2000. If this constraint proves prohibitive, one possibility is to target only areas with low response rates for replacement questionnaires. These areas could be identified either in advance, based on 1990 block characteristics, or on early mail response rates in 2000.

Another feature of the total design method is to take account of the general appearance and form of the survey questionnaire, as well as to follow guidelines on the wording and order of the questions themselves. These guidelines were followed in the development of the questionnaire for the 1995 census test. Analysis of the results showed some shortcomings of the questionnaire items, such as apparent confusion about the meaning of some coverage questions, whose purpose was to encourage respondents to assess whether they had correctly enumerated all household members. The Census Bureau is continuing to pursue research on questionnaire design, including research into improvement of the long form.4 Since research on questionnaire design is relatively inexpensive and has high potential payoff, we believe that this effort is well placed. In addition to research to design respondent-friendly forms, the Bureau has recently announced the transfer of five items from the short to the long form. This shortening of the form may act to increase mail return rates, although at the cost of reduced small-area data.

MULTIPLE MODES FOR RESPONSE

The plans for the 2000 census provide a number of new ways for respondents to be enumerated. The innovations were intended to reduce respondent burden and to improve coverage of traditionally undercounted groups. One of these changes is the introduction of the "Be Counted" forms: these forms are placed in public locations so that people who did not receive a census form or do not believe they were counted can easily report their information. This change in the census design was adopted from a suggestion presented to Congress in a report from the U.S. General Accounting Office (1992). The forms were available in the 1995 census test in five languages and at a

3  

We do not have data to estimate the added costs, but they are likely to be considerably less than the estimated savings.

4  

The long form sent to 1 of 6 sample of households in 1990, collects additional data beyond the minimum required for reapportionment and redistricting. These data are of intense interest to many census users.



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