Census expert: Rural areas risk being overlooked

March 30, 2010 | EPA

DURHAM, N.H. – As the United States prepares for the 2010 census, rural areas are at risk of being undercounted, says demographer William O’Hare, senior policy fellow at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire and a senior fellow with the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

“In certain cases, the census misses large segments of the rural population,” says O’Hare, author of a brief on this subject published Feb. 24 by the Carsey Institute. “Notably, blacks in the rural South, Hispanics in the Southwest border region, and American Indians on reservations in the Southwest and Northern Plains are among the hardest-to-count populations.”

O’Hare adds that undercounted communities do not receive a fair share of public funds for schools, hospitals, day care centers, roads, and other programs that receive federal funding. “Rural communities that are already struggling in this economic climate can ill-afford to lose federal money because they are not fully counted in the census,” he says.

O’Hare’s brief, called “Rural Areas Risk Being Overlooked in 2010 Census,” is available to download. It was supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s initiative to strengthen rural families, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and an anonymous donor.

The Carsey Institute conducts policy and applied research on vulnerable families and on sustainable community development, giving policy makers and practitioners the timely, independent resources they need to effect change in their communities.