The 2020 Census will provide critical data for congressional apportionment, federal, state and local redistricting, and appropriation of federal funds across states and communities. This brief draws on data from the December 2019 Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey to assess attitudes toward and concerns about the 2020 Census just before counting began. We find the following:
- Though more than three-quarters (77.2 percent) of nonelderly adults report that their households definitely or probably will mail back the 2020 Census questionnaire or submit it online, self-reported intent to participate is relatively low among adults who are ages 18 to 34, live with young children, are nonwhite or Hispanic, live in families with noncitizens, and live in high-poverty communities.
- Nearly one-third of adults (32.3 percent) are extremely or very concerned about how their answers to the 2020 Census questionnaire will be used and with whom they will be shared. Among nonwhite and Hispanic adults and among adults in immigrant families, 40 percent or more are extremely or very concerned.
- There is significant confusion about whether the 2020 Census will be used to collect information on citizenship status. Nearly 70 percent of adults think the 2020 Census questionnaire will ask which people in their households are citizens even though the Supreme Court ruled that the citizenship question could not be included.
Nearly one-third of adults (31.6 percent) think it is extremely or very likely that answers to the census will be used to find people living in the US without documentation, and another third think it is somewhat likely, despite federal laws preventing this from occurring. This belief is most common among adults in families with noncitizens (40.6 percent) and adults in immigrant families who are worried about deportation (46.4 percent).