Detailed 2020 Census Data Coming in 2023

Writ­ing in Poyn­ter, Mike Schnei­der cau­tions jour­nal­ists not to for­get about the 2020 Cen­sus, whose con­tin­ue to roll in, pro­vid­ing valu­able insight into the nation’s chang­ing demo­graph­ics.

“Even though the cen­sus was con­duct­ed two years ago, the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau has yet to its most detailed data about fam­i­lies, house­hold and com­pre­hen­sive break­downs of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion by age, , eth­nic­i­ty and trib­al affil­i­a­tion,” Schnei­der explains, not­ing that the release of this data will come in the spring, with more releas­es through­out the

The delay comes in due to a new pol­i­cy, which uses a tool known as ‘dif­fer­en­tial pri­va­cy’ that “injects ran­dom errors into the data so that infor­ma­tion about house­holds can’t be traced back to indi­vid­u­als.” For exam­ple, “Under the Cen­sus Bureau plan, sex and age break­downs will be lim­it­ed for detailed racial, eth­nic and trib­al groups based on the size of those groups in each state, coun­ty or place.”

Schnei­der out­lines the tool’s use and its poten­tial draw­backs. “Dis­agree­ments over whether dif­fer­en­tial pri­va­cy caus­es more harm than good have cre­at­ed a among demog­ra­phers, sta­tis­ti­cians and researchers who use cen­sus data.” While crit­ics argue that the tool will dis­tort and lim­it data at the most local lev­el, pro­po­nents say the Bureau is sim­ply being more trans­par­ent about a prac­tice that has always exist­ed to pro­tect the pri­va­cy of sur­vey par­tic­i­pants.

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