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Bates, Nancy, and Joe Zamadics. 2021. “COVID-19 Infection Rates and Propensity to Self-Respond in the 2020 U.S. Decennial Census.” Survey Practice 14 (1). https://doi.org/10.29115/SP-2021-0002.
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  • Figure 1: Graph of COVID-19 county-level infection regression coefficient from the Cumulative 2020 Census Self-Response OLS Model


Survey methodologists have acknowledged that the social environment may influence survey and census participation—both at the societal level and at the community level. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic affected daily life throughout the entire U.S., but to differing degrees depending upon the particular neighborhood or community. In this article, we use U.S. Centers for Disease Control county-level COVID-19 infection data coupled with U.S. 2020 Decennial Census response rate data to explore whether this societal level pandemic influenced participation in the census. We found that even when controlling for covariates predictive of COVID-19 infection rates (e.g., percent minority population, age 65+), infection rates were found to be significantly (negatively) associated with self-response.

Accepted: January 26, 2021 EDT