Photo c/o US Census Bureau PIO
Children are the most often missed age group in the Census, according to Why are Young Children So Often Missed in the Census, a new report by Dr. William P. O’Hare of the The Annie E.Casey Foundation. In the 2000 Census, the net undercount of children under 10 years old was 1 million; children under 5 account for over three quarters of this. The report notes a more pronounced discrepancy in rates of undercounted minority children. In 2000, black males under age 5 were missed at a rate of 5.3 percent, compared to 3.3 percent for non-black males in this age group. Among females, blacks under age 5 were missed at a rate of 5.4 percent, compared to 3.8 percent for non-blacks in this age group.
There are several factors that explain the high undercount of young children: Young children are more likely to live in households with 7+ occupants, which make it difficult to complete the census form with spaces for only six names; children are also more likely to live in places characterized as hard to count, including rental units, mobile homes, and complex households with adults other than parents. Looking ahead to the 2010 census, prospects for an accurate count of children do not look promising, as there has been an increase in the proportion of young children from minority populations from previous years, there are more children living with undocumented residents than in previous years, and an estimated two million children will be affected by the housing crisis which will add to the complexity of getting an accurate count.
The report offers several suggestions for combating the undercount of children, including reaching out to different nonprofit agencies and doctors whose clients are families with young children to raise awareness of the census.
Click here to read the full report.