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January 24, 2001

For Immediate Release
Contact: John Chambers
301-713-6672

STUDY REVEALS MORE THAN 20 PERCENT OF INFANTS MISSED IN 1990 CENSUS; SIMILAR RESULTS POSSIBLE IN CENSUS 2000

Washington D.C. -- A study released today by the Presidential Members of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board found that 815,000, or 20.2 percent of all infants (persons less than one year of age) and approximately 11 percent of six-year-olds were missed in the 1990 census. The study includes an analysis of the infant and child undercount for every county in the nation and the 20 largest U.S. cities. It can be viewed at http://www.cmbp.gov.

The study, authored by Dr. Beth Osborne Daponte and Amelia M. Haviland of Carnegie Mellon University, is the first to compare birth, death and school enrollment records to the results of the 1990 Census data to determine the accuracy and quality of the census’ count of infants and children.

"I was astounded by these findings and though they pertain to the 1990 count, they demonstrate the shortcomings that are inherent in the process of the census," said Daponte. "My concern is that our methodology, when applied to the 2000 count may reveal a similar pattern of infants being severely undercounted."

In the 1990 census, children represented half of the total undercounted population. Given this history, the study suggests that funding for federal programs such as Medicaid, Foster Care, and public policy decisions, such as school construction and childcare, could be adversely affected if corrected census data is not released in 2001.

"The decennial census is more than a constitutional exercise, it is the foundation of public policy decisions made at all levels of government, including policies that affect the most vulnerable members of our society – our children," said Gilbert F. Casellas, Presidential Co-Chair of the Monitoring Board. "If President Bush is truly committed to ‘leaving no child behind’, he will join us in supporting the release of the most accurate census data."

Among states, California had the highest rate of infants missed (26.3%), followed by Florida (26.1%) and New York (25.5%). San Francisco (39.3%) had the highest rate for cities, followed by Los Angeles (39.1%) and Washington, D.C. (38.9%).

"These findings are a perfect example of the types of errors that modern statistical methods were designed to correct," said Dr. Everett M. Ehrlich, former Undersecretary of Commerce and a Monitoring Board Member.

Established in 1997, the Census Monitoring Board is a bipartisan board that monitors the Census Bureau’s conduct of the 2000 census. Its findings are reported every six months to Congress. For more information on the Board, visit http://www.cmbp.gov.


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