Census ROAM and UDVL MTC:
The Census Bureau developed a metric called the hard-to-count (HTC) score, which assessed the factors associated with lower census participation. The HTC score could thus help target outreach efforts for the 2000 and 2010 Censuses. For the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau developed an improved metric called the low response score (LRS) and created an online tool called the Response Outreach Area Mapper (ROAM); available at the end of this text. While the HTC score weights the HTC factors equally, the LRS accounts for the importance of each factor. ROAM is a web application that maps every census tract, shows their LRS score, and displays information about the HTC factors that affected response rates for the 2010 Census.
Such measures and applications provide essential help for both 2020 Census planning activities and daily operations of multiple national surveys conducted by the US Census Bureau. Census response behavior, however, is very sensitive to differences within and between states’ geographic, socioeconomic and demographic groups. The major limitation of ROAM is that it does not account for such differences – it is one model for the entire United States.
Our Map The Count (MTC) application is a multi-step process that first detects the geographic and socio-demographic sources of differences, and then identifies the number of distinct models to more precisely project the response rate in 2020 for each location. The results of our models confirm that:
- Not all HTC characteristics contribute to a low response rate in every geography <see maps>
- Socio-demographic characteristics may influence which HTC factors affect response rates in specific areas <Differences Explained Here>, and
- Some HTC characteristics are neutral or actually help increase the response rate <Positive HTC Factors Explained Here>