Exploring the 2020 Census’s Accuracy and Utility

Factors including the pandemic, the political climate, natural disasters, and demographic change have made counting the US population more complex and raised concerns about the quality of the 2020 Census. In response, the Urban Institute simulated the 2020 Census to better understand its performance.

Researchers used a microsimulation to account for plausible scenarios of miscounts and fairness to understand how different factors influence the census’s accuracy and the implications for political representation and federal resource allocation.

Urban’s report and state fact sheets offer benchmarks for assessing the 2020 Census and its accuracy and fairness.

Report

Simulating the 2020 Census: Miscounts and the Fairness of Outcomes
Diana Elliott, Steven Martin, Jessica Shakesprere, and Jessica Kelly
November 2021

This report describes the events leading up to Census Day, the prolonged period of fieldwork and data processing caused by the pandemic, and how these and other factors contribute to the accuracy and fairness of the final counts, as well as outcomes such as political representation and federal funding allocations for Medicaid.

A State-by-State Look at the 2020 Census

These fact sheets feature projected population counts for different demographic groups in each state. They also include whether states would lose or gain political representation or funding for programs such as Medicaid in a full, accurate count.

State Fact Sheets
Use the map or dropdown to view fact sheets