ASA Lauds Decision to Leave Citizenship Question Off 2020 Census

The American Statistical Association released a statement supporting the announcement by President Donald Trump Thursday that the administration will cease efforts to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Although the decision puts at ease the most immediate threat to the data integrity of the census, the ASA statement says, there is still much work to be done.

ASA President Karen Kafadar highlights the immediate needs facing the community: to communicate the vital importance of the census to the US; to assure individuals their responses are fully protected by law; and to achieve as complete a response as possible. ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein stresses the responsibility of the federal government to clearly and repeatedly emphasize the security and significance of responses to the census. And in an interview with Science magazine, ASA President-elect Rob Santos calls the decision good news for the Census Bureau, saying it extracts the agency from the bitterly partisan national debate over immigration and allows the bureau to focus on its job of carrying out a complete and accurate census.

The decennial census is the backbone of the US data infrastructure, informing decade-long decisions across the public and private sectors and determining representation in the US House of Representatives. Extensive scientific research and planning begin 10 years before the census to ensure fulfillment of the constitutional mandate to count every person living in the US.