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Coverage of Population in the 1970 Census and Some Implications for Public Programs

Report Number P23-56

This report was prepared largely in pursuance of a request from a group of leaders of the black community, which met under Bureau sponsorship on May 24 and June 19, 1974, that a document be prepared reviewing the methodology and the extent of undercoverage of the population in the 1970 census and examining the implications of geographic variations in undercoverage for various public programs, particularly political representation and disbursement of public funds. The report deals only with selected aspects of this broad topic, giving principal attention to the impact of underenumeration on legislative redistricting and on the apportionment of funds, especially under General Revenue Sharing.

An explanatory text discusses population coverage on the national and subnational levels, including methodological problems, along with its irnplications for political representation and distribution of public funds.

Tables accompanying the text provide several illustrative sets of summary figures giving the distribution of States according to rates of net underenumeration calculated by a basic synthetic method and various modified synthetic methods; shifts in apportioned funds resulting from adjustment of State population counts for underenumeration; and gains or losses in General Revenue Sharing funds as a result of the adjustment of the population factor, the per capita income factor, or both factors, in the revenue-sharing formula. Other aspects of the effect of underenumeration of State population figures are also illustrated. Detailed tables show the corresponding figures for individual regions, divisions, and States.

A Note on Language

Census statistics date back to 1790 and reflect the growth and change of the United States. Past census reports contain some terms that today’s readers may consider obsolete and inappropriate. As part of our goal to be open and transparent with the public, we are improving access to all Census Bureau original publications and statistics, which serve as a guide to the nation's history.

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