U.S. Census Bureau

July 12,1999

1990 Mail Response Rates Questions and Answers




Q: Why are we releasing the 1990 mail response rates now?
A: To encourage public cooperation in returning Census 2000 questionnaires.

Q: It doesn't appear that all counties and places are displayed. Why not?
A: Only governmental entities with addresses that were enumerated using delivered questionnaires by the U. S. Postal Service or Census staff is displayed. In 1990 many jurisdictions were enumerated using a list/enumerate methodology and therefore rates are not available.

Q: What is the Census Bureau definition of a governmental entity?
A: A general purpose government that has the legal capacity to elect or appoint officials, raise revenues, provide services and enter into contracts. This definition was used to calculate the 1990 mail response rates. A mail response rate is not available if your area did not meet this definition.

Q: What does list/enumerate mean?
A: It is a methodology whereby Census Bureau employees list a housing unit and interview residents of the housing unit in a single visit. Since respondents do not return their questionnaires by mail, there is no mail return rate for such areas. This data collection method is used in remote and sparsely populated areas.

Q: What is a mail response rate?
A: A rate which tells the Census Bureau how many housing units returned a census questionnaire delivered either by the United States Postal Service or by Census Bureau staff.

Q: What is the time frame for calculating mail response rates?
A: It begins when census questionnaires are delivered by the United States Postal Service or by Census Bureau staff until the nonresponse followup universe is determined.

Q: I've heard the term mail return rate. What is a mail return rate?
A: A rate which tells the Census Bureau how many occupied housing units returned a census questionnaire delivered either by the United States Postal Service or by Census Bureau staff. The mail return rate will always be higher than the mail response rate.

Q: How are the mail response rates calculated for tribal entities that cross state boundaries?
A: For each state that shares a tribal entity, the mail response rate is calculated only on the portion of the reservation that falls within the respective state.

Q: My jurisdiction annexed land since 1990. Do the mail response rates reflect the new jurisdictional boundaries?
A: No. The mail response rates reflect the jurisdictional boundaries that existed during the 1990 Census.