Measuring Benefits from Improving Accuracy of the 2020 Census: Apportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives and Allocation of Federal Funds
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Seeskin, Zachary H.; Spencer, Bruce D.
In order to know how much accuracy is needed for the 2020 Census – with the appreciation that accuracy is expensive – we need to understand how the census results get used. In this talk, we consider two high profile uses of the census: apportionment and fund allocation. Apportionment of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives is based on census numbers, and distortions in the census results lead to distortions in numbers of seats allocated to the states. We expect that roughly $5 trillion in federal grant and direct assistance monies will be distributed at least partly on the basis of population and income data following the 2020 census, and distortions in census results cause distortions in the allocations of funds. We present loss functions to quantify the distortions in apportionment and fund allocations, and we describe empirical analyses to estimate the expected loss arising from alternative profiles of accuracy in state population numbers.