Census 2020—A Preventable Public Health Catastrophe

Gregory H. Cohen, MPhil, MSW; Craig S. Ross, PhD, MBA; Yvette C. Cozier, PhD; Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH


Am J Public Health. 2019;109(8):1077-1078. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


The US decennial census serves key roles in shaping Congress and its legislative framework, providing data that undergird much of public health research and practice and guiding the allocation of a broad range of federal funding. The 2020 Census is confronted by numerous challenges, including budgetary constraints, a shift toward online data collection, threats to data security, and the inclusion of a citizenship question and a race/ethnicity series with questionable accuracy. If these challenges are not addressed properly, a compromised 2020 Census will result in difficulty planning for standard public health needs, impede work to reduce social inequalities in health, and challenge the identification and management of novel and emergent public health threats.