Thursday, January 31, 2019

Online vs Paper 2020 Census Response

The 2020 census, for the first time, will allow the public to respond online rather than fill out a paper form. According to a 2018 Census Bureau survey of attitudes toward the census, most Americans would prefer to respond to the census online or don't care whether the form is online or paper. Overall, 40 percent would prefer online to paper, 28 percent do not have a preference, and 32 percent would prefer paper. Young adults and Asians are two of the groups who would most prefer to answer the census online...

More than half of young adults would prefer the online option: Among people aged 18 to 34, a substantial 56 percent would prefer to fill out the census online, as would 54 percent of those aged 35 to 44. The preference for an online form falls to 39 percent among 45-to-64-year-olds and to just 19 percent among people aged 65 or older. Fully 56 percent of the oldest age group would prefer a paper form.

Most Asians would prefer the online option: The 59 percent majority of Asians would prefer an online form, with only 20 percent expressing a preference for paper. Blacks are least likely to prefer the online option (29 percent) and most likely to prefer paper (44 percent).

Having the option to answer the 2020 census online may boost census response rates, helping communities better attract the government funding they are due because of a more complete count of residents. Those who would most prefer an online form—young adults and Asians—are also the demographic segments least enthusiastic about the census. Just 54 percent of young adults and 55 percent of Asians report being "very" or "extremely" likely to fill out a census form. This compares with a larger 67 percent of all adults, 69 percent of non-Hispanic Whites, and 73 percent of people aged 65 or older.

Source: Census Bureau, 2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Study (CBAMS) Final Survey Report

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