Looking for the Last Percent: The Controversy over Census Undercounts
by Harvey M. Choldin
Rutgers University Press, 1994
Cloth: 978-0-8135-2039-1 | eISBN: 978-0-8135-8571-0
Library of Congress Classification HA214.C57 1994
Dewey Decimal Classification 304.60723


Every census misses some people, but those who are poor, male, urban, black, and Hispanic are most likely not to be counted. In 1980 and 1990, big city mayors complained that census undercounts were depriving their communities of their correct representation in Congress and of their fair share of state and federal dollars. The mayors filed lawsuits to demand recounts and statistical corrections to the census. Harvey Choldin tells the story of the conflict between Census Bureau staff and politicians over how to handle the undercount.

Statisticians at the census bureau were caught between their own rigorous scientific standards and these strong political demands. Choldin explains the political and statistical issues in the undercount controversy, and describes the major research and development program in which statisticians developed innovative techniques with which to measure and correct undercounts. He concludes by showing that, despite the undercount, the United States has an excellent census.

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