How Administrative Data Played into the 2020 Census

As administrative data – datasets collected by government agencies and commercial entities typically as a byproduct of nonstatistical activities, such as delivering mail – rises in importance in Census Bureau survey measurement, the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality has released a new report on its use in the 2020 Census.

The Bureau has long used such data to provide “information about individuals, housing units, or businesses, including to aid in data quality analysis, build and update address lists, and produce population estimates.” The 2020 Census relied more on administrative data than ever before to “supplement key components of data collection, data processing, and quality control efforts.” The Center believes that administrative data “will likely play an increasing role in the federal statistical system, in part due to the growing cost of surveys and declining survey response rates,” but that its use “must be rigorously evaluated and potential impacts on data equity carefully considered as a civil rights issue.”