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Note: All files are in PDF format unless otherwise noted.

Focus Groups to Assess Issues Related to Response to 2010 Census

Background: As part of the research and development planning efforts for the 2010 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau has begun to assess potential barriers to participation, including concerns about privacy and confidentiality, to identify reasons why people may be motivated to respond to the census, and to better understand methods of communication that work for different groups. Focus group research with selected population groups began in the fall of 2006, and additional qualitative research is planned with other groups in the future. In addition, the Census Bureau, in view of its government to government relationship to the American Indian and Alaska Native communities, is planning a series of consultations to better understand some of the issues unique to those communities. There may also be other sub-populations such as rural populations, parents of young children, disabled populations, or migrant farmworkers, etc., that pose unique challenges requiring further research.

The attached reports prepared by the contractors describe the focus group findings for the groups studied to date. The Census Bureau will continue to release research findings as they become available. Opinions and conclusions do not necessarily represent the Census Bureau.

Research Strategy: To ensure that this research clearly identified issues and concerns, focus group participants were selected based on characteristics assumed to be associated with a low likelihood of response, including low education, low income, linguistic isolation, and lack of knowledge/experience with the census, among others.

Research Firms: Research companies were selected from small and disadvantaged (8(a)- certified) businesses with expertise conducting qualitative research among the targeted population groups. They included: (click on the links below to access each report)

Caveats: Qualitative research such as that described in the attached reports is useful to develop hypotheses and identify topics for further study. This type of research can play an important role in improving our understanding of response, as part of a larger program of quantitative and qualitative research. However, participants in focus groups are not selected in a way that would allow the results to be generalized to any larger population.

Participants were selected based in part on their lack of experience with Census 2000. Therefore, it should not be surprising that many reported they did not get a questionnaire or were not visited by an enumerator in 2000. In fact, most of those who resided in the U.S. were probably counted by another household member or in the most extreme cases by a proxy - a neighbor who could affirm that a nearby residence was inhabited and by how many people.

There are some variations in the criteria used to select focus group participants. These variations reflect the unique circumstances of some groups. As a result, findings may not be directly comparable across groups. Details are described in each report.

Contact: For more information, e-mail Shelly Lowe at

[PDF] or PDF denotes a file in Adobe’s Portable Document Format. To view the file, you will need the Adobe® Reader® Off Site available free from Adobe.

Source: Acquisition Division
Created: 1/18/2007
Last Revised: October 19, 2012