This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Did the 2010 Census Really Undercount City Populations?

Despite the worldwide concern about population growth, local officials never want to be living in a place whose population is declining. It just isn't done. So, we are not surprised that a number of cities in the US are challenging, or are planning to challenge, the results of the 2010 census. Of course, no one ever challenges what they perceive to be an overcount; it is only a perceived undercount that is problematic.

Cities have two years to contest their counts under the Census Bureau's appeals process, which began this month.
"Along with federal funds, there's a psychological impact when a city loses population, because people and businesses want to be in a vibrant region where things are growing and happening," Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory, who chairs the U.S. mayors' task force on the census, said in an interview.
"There will be a dramatic increase in the number of city challenges, I guarantee it," he said.
Doubts about the government's numbers are cropping up everywhere.
Real-estate agents in New York City want to know where the Census Bureau found vast stretches of empty housing that resulted in a tally that was 200,000 fewer people than expected. Miami officials are puzzled over a count that fell 30,000 below the bureau's 2009 estimate, contending that immigrants and middle-class whites in gated downtown condominiums were missed. Houston added two new city council seats, even though the 2010 count showed it fell 549 short of the population required to do so.
California cities are also mulling challenges after state officials estimated the census had failed to count 1.25 million people there.
Despite the headlines, don't expect that much will ultimately happen, at least based on the experience from Census 2000.
In 2000, roughly 1,200 jurisdictions, or 3 percent, contested the count. The net change due to census challenges that year was just 2,700 people.
Apart from the challenges, analysts later determined the 2000 census had an overcount of 1.3 million people, due mostly to duplicate counts of more affluent whites with multiple residences. About 4.5 million people were ultimately missed, mostly blacks and Hispanics.

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