Our research network cross-referenced Census Bureau data with data on family and poverty characteristics to identify communities we thought would be likely to have lower participation in 2020.

Identifying two rural places and one urban, we held workshops with local stakeholders, including teachers, nonprofit leaders and clergy. We discussed challenges and opportunities for participating in the 2020 census, messaging that would resonate in their communities, and strategies for further engagement.

The Census Bureau assigns each area a ‘low response score,’ a predicted rate of how many people will not respond to the census.

People can promote participation in the 2020 census by discussing it with family members, neighbors, church members and work colleagues. Materials available from the U.S. Census Bureau can help.

We also emphasize that people can form or join Complete Count Committees which promote an accurate count of the population in their communities. For example, participants might coordinate census promotion campaigns within churches, or develop community celebrations that feature the civic duty of census participation.

The 2020 census will be important for all Americans, but for those who live, work and care about rural communities and small towns, it will be critically important. I hope that Americans can work together to make sure that rural areas are accurately counted if they are to get their fair share.


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John J. Green, Professor of Sociology, University of Mississippi

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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