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Majority of Americans plan to participate in 2020 census, with some caveats

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

More than four-in-five adults report they will definitely or probably participate in the 2020 Census, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. But there are a few demographic groups — mainly young people and minorities — who are hesitant to take part.

In the last year, President Donald Trump and his administration have discussed adding a question to the census that would ask about respondents’ citizenship status, only to be shut down by the Supreme Court. Groups that could be threatened by the government’s knowledge of their citizenship status have previously expressed anxiety over the question being asked, and many say the damage was done even though the question won’t appear, as those groups will refrain from taking it anyways.

Overall, 84% of adults said they will definitely or probably participate and 16% said they might or might not, probably will not, or definitely will not, according to the Pew survey.

Pew noted that despite the reported percentage who said they’ll participate, Census Bureau research has found the response rate is usually lower than the percent who report that they plan to.

A third of young Americans said they might or might not, probably will not, or definitely will not participate in the 2020 census, the largest portion of a demographic group to express intention to not respond. They were followed by black adults (26% won’t participate), those who earn under $30,000 a year (24%), and Hispanics (21%).

There was no notable difference between Democrats and Republicans regarding who planned on participating.

There was nearly universal awareness of the US census — 95% have heard of it, and 54% had seen or heard something about it recently.

Older and educated adults were more likely to report the census is important for the country, with 63% overall who said it is very important for the US, 80% among those over 65 and 70% among those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

A strong majority of Americans think the census won’t benefit or harm them, personally (78% neither benefit nor harm, 19% benefit, 2% harm), but are split on whether it will benefit their community or have no effect (48% benefit, 3% harm, 48% neither benefit nor harm).

In a Pew telephone survey taken before the 2010 census, 62% said participation would benefit their community, compared to the 48% who said so of the 2020 census, while 33% said it would benefit them personally (19% in the recent poll).

Black and Hispanic Americans — some of the least likely to participate in the census — are the most likely to say it will benefit them personally (27% and 24%, respectively).

The most likely people to say the census will benefit their community were older (58% will benefit), had a bachelor’s degree or higher (57%), or earned $75,000 or higher a year (55%).

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted online September 16 through 29 among a nationally representative sample of 6,878 adults. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 1.6 percentage points, it is larger for subgroups.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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