Federal judge rules against citizenship question on 2020 Census


And a NYTimes Editorial on the ruling: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/this-should-be-the-nal-answer-to-the-census-question/2019/01/21/c552b9d6-19df-11e9-9ebf-c5fed1b7a081_story.html?utm_term=.1032aefe7e94

Student Loan Debt and the Next Financial Crisis


Matt Phillips and Karl Russel, NYTimes, 9/12/2018

It’s interesting to think of the growing costs of education as a bubble. Like many homeowners during the foreclosure crisis, college graduates borrowing to pay for school find themselves “underwater” – owing more than their education is worth on the job market.

There are important differences between the housing and student loan bubbles, though. Student loan debt, while increasing rapidly, pales in comparison to the debt wrapped up in mortgages in the United States, and much of the debt owed by students was loaned by the U.S. government. So, any potential student loan crisis will not be as large, and will not have as large a direct impact on the banking system as the foreclosure crisis.

Citizenship Question Added in “Bad Faith”

In my last post, I included a link to a joint federal lawsuit filed by several states, cities, and counties regarding the constitutionality of the proposed addition of a citizenship item to the 2020 Census.

A federal judge presiding over the case has now stated that shifting justifications for the question from Wilbur Ross, coupled with a general lack of zeal in the current administration thus far in upholding the Voting Rights Act, suggest that the administration is acting “in bad faith” by ordering the addition of the question. The decision allows prosecutors to search correspondence and solicit sworn testimony from senior officials.

Here’s the NY Times story.

Citizenship and the 2020 Census

As a Census Bureau statistician, sociologist, and demographer sworn to accurately and confidentially develop statistics and steward data on the U.S. population – and, indeed, as a U.S. citizen with vested interest in pursuing justice and truth – I find the proposed addition of a citizenship item to the 2020 Census a significant and problematic development.

I will refrain from voicing my unfettered professional and personal opinions on the matter here. In their stead, I offer the below list of resources pertaining to the proposed question – the purpose, history, and constitutionality of the Census; the bounds in which the Census is conducted; the justifications offered by DOJ and DOC for the change; the likely impacts of the question if included; and the pathways by which the question may be removed from the 2020 Census prior to April 1, 2020. Where possible, resources listed below are first-hand documents, such as legal documents and official government letters; others are academic research papers or summaries thereof; a few are journalistic accounts of recent events. The goal is to inform and to allow readers to reach their own conclusions on this important matter.

Note that the resources provided below, and any conclusions insinuated by and/or drawn from them, are solely mine (or yours) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the U.S. Census Bureau. That being said, it is clear that the addition of a citizenship item is anything but a neutral proposition.


Census History:

Enumeration Clause, U.S. Constitution

Constitutionality of a Citizenship Question on Decennial Census

Use of 1940 Census Block Level Data for Japanese Internment during WWII

Use of 1940 Census Individual Responses for Japanese Internment during WWII

Confidentiality and Title 13 U.S. Code (1954)

Title 13: Penalties for Non-Response and False Responses

Title 18: Penalties for Non-Response and False Responses


Citizenship Question Requests and Justifications:

DOJ’s Letter Requesting Addition of Citizenship Item to 2020 Census

DOC Secretary Wilbur Ross’s Defense of Citizenship Question

Citizen Voting Age Population Data (From Block Group to National Level)

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act

Growing Confidentiality Concerns among Minorities: Evidence from Census Bureau Focus Groups

Citizenship Question as a Trump 2020 Reelection Plank


Likely Impact of the Question:

Representation and Apportionment of Funds in Red and Blue States

Letter from Six Former Census Bureau Directors to Wilbur Ross on Citizenship Item

Impact in Washington State

Undercount Undermines Data Collection for the Next Decade

Scale and Cost of Non-Response Follow-Up Operations in 2000

Map of Census Non-Response


Current Lawsuits and Injunctions against the Question:

California Lawsuit Regarding Citizenship Question

Joint Lawsuit Regarding Citizenship Question (NY, CT, DE, IL, IA, MD, MN, NJ, NM, NC, OR, RI, VT, WA, MA, VA, PA, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, Seattle, San Francisco, and the US Conference of Mayors)

Bad Solution to a Non-Problem

In a recent opinion piece for the Seattle Times, Jacob Vigdor blasts Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” as a bad solution to an immigration problem that no longer exists. Supporting this piece are various demographic data on undocumented immigration from Mexico, immigration “pushes” that have declined in strength following the First and Second Demographic transitions, and cross-national comparisons with Japan which demonstrate the necessity of sustained immigration in post-industrial economies.


American Mobility Declines Even Further in 2016

According to the most recent 2016 estimates from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a smaller share of Americans moved across state lines in the last year than in any year since 1948, when tracking of annual mobility began. Over 13% of the US population made a permanent move across state lines between 1947 and 1948; less than 7% did so between 2015 and 2016.

Recent declines continue a long-term trend toward what many refer to as the increasing “rootedness” of the American population. In my own research, however, I argue that these declines reflect the increasing tendency of Americans to remain “stuck” in place – unable to move even when they expect to do so.

Here are Richard Florida’s thoughts on this Census report, published on CityLab.