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 12th (it came out in 2015), 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, October 3, 2018

Citizenship Questions on Census Won't Be Good For Anyone

Thanks to PAA President Wendy Manning for the link to an Op-Ed piece in the NYTimes by demographer William Frey, discussing the likely negative consequences for everyone of adding the citizenship question to the full count 2020 census. Remember that the consensus among everyone--based especially on past field experiments by the Census Bureau--is that the presence of this question on the census form will reduce the response rate among not just non-citizens, but also among other members of households in which there is a non-citizen. The Trump administration likes this idea because it would increase the percentage of the counted population (which determines Congressional Redistricting) that is non-Hispanic White. But here's the bigger set of problems laid out by Frey:
If it is added to the census form, the citizenship question will distort our understanding of who resides in the country. What this selective underenumeration will not do is make America’s growing racial minority populations disappear. The losers from this undercount include members of Mr. Trump’s older white base, who will suffer from lost investments in a younger generation, whose successes and contributions to the economy will be necessary to keep America great.
The demographic trends make this plain. America’s white population is growing tepidly because of substantial declines among younger whites. Since 2000, the white population under the age of 18 has shrunk by seven million, and declines are projected among white 20-somethings and 30-somethings over the next two decades and beyond. This is a result of both low fertility rates among young whites and modest white immigration — a trend that is not likely to change despite Mr. Trump’s wish for more immigrants from Norway.
Let's face it, what we really need is to make sure that everyone has the resources to succeed in society, so that we all are better off. As I recently noted, this process starts at the neighborhood level, and the best way to get rid of the us/them dichotomy that we have fallen into is to bring everyone into the mainstream. That's obviously not easy, but the longer we sit on our hands, the harder it will be. 

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