Census 2020: Understanding the Issues

Springer book covers the US Census from its Constitutional founding through the upcoming 2020 count, discusses the unique significance of this statistical undertaking, and explores controversies and questions surrounding demographic data collection


Credit: Springer Nature

This spring, American residents throughout the fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands partake in the critical decennial tradition of completing a Census questionnaire. The Census is the only statistical undertaking conducted by the government that maps every resident into a geographic location. The results of this nationwide count influence the U.S. government and economy for the following decade, from the apportionment of Congressional representatives to federal funding for schools and infrastructure repairs. As author Teresa A. Sullivan articulates succinctly in Census 2020: Understanding the Issues, “everybody counts”–including adults, children, incarcerated people, homeless and migratory people, and noncitizens.

Because the data collected in this statistical undertaking is so critical to the appropriation of federal resources, it is a legal requirement. However, in the 21st Century, when the United States is more heavily populated than ever before, people’s housing circumstances vary widely, and there exists a pervasive fear of data misuse, it can be difficult to get an accurate and complete count. Dr. Sullivan skillfully explores the undercounted and underreported in her book, discusses the multitude of challenges involved, and outlines how the Census Bureau confronts them. She investigates the political controversies surrounding a citizenship question–not currently included on the Census questionnaire. This volume illuminates some important questions about the future of the Census, including how the United States will reconcile data protection and adequate representation.

This book will be of particular interest to non-specialist readers interested in social demography, political statistics, U.S. government processes, machine learning, and the representation of marginalized communities in the United States. Nevertheless, it is also an excellent resource for American residents curious to learn more about the ongoing Census in the United States.


About the author

Teresa A. Sullivan is president emerita and university professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, and the interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Michigan State University. Renowned for her scholarly contributions in social demography, she is the author or co-author of multiple publications, including The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt (2000, with Elizabeth Warren and Jay Lawrence Westbrook), The Social Organization of Work (2011, with Randy Hodson), and As We Forgive Our Debtors: Bankruptcy and Consumer Credit in America (1999, with Elizabeth Warren and Jay Lawrence Westbrook).

Teresa A. Sullivan

Census 2020: Understanding the Issues

2020, XI, 113p., 1 b/w illus., 3 illus. in colour

Softcover $27.99 | £19.99 | 23,91 €

ISBN 978-3-030-40577-9

eISBN 978-3-030-40578-6

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Felicitas Behrendt

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