The 2013 Census Test: Piloting Methods to Reduce 2020 Census Costs

Gina Walejko, Peter Miller


The U.S. Census Bureau spent nearly $1.6 billion obtaining information from households that did not self-respond to the 2010 Census. This paper discusses the 2013 Census Test, a study of 2,077 sample addresses in metropolitan Philadelphia that piloted the feasibility of three potential cost-saving methods to collect information from non-responding housing units. These methods included 1) using administrative records to determine housing unit occupancy status and enumerate occupied households, 2) using an adaptive approach to manage in-person contact attempts, and 3) attempting telephone contacts prior to in-person visits. Results showed we could implement new procedures in the field, although in-person interviewer compliance and the lack of telephone call productivity surfaced as issues. Findings will help the Census Bureau move towards decisions on how to conduct a 2020 Census with reduced cost and high quality data.


decennial census; adaptive design; administrative records

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