Young Children in 2020:

County Undercounts and Overcounts

by Trends Staff

In the United States census that is taken every ten years, the group that has been most often undercounted and consistently falls below estimates are young children of ages 0 to 4. For the 2020 census in particular, the Census Bureau has determined that its count of young children was below their revised estimates by 5.4%, or about one million children. This comes after an announcement of new and improved techniques for estimating younger populations, by accessing birth records and factoring migration between counties into their approach. This shortcoming may relate to another larger issue with the current system, where minority populations and migratory groups are less represented in government data like the census.  

The graphic shows the estimated percent error in the recent census’ measurement of youth populations, by county, across America. Counties shaded in purple were estimated to be undercounted, and those shaded green are estimated to have been overcounted, while counties colored white had too small of a youth population to accurately compare. Only 16% of compared counties were overcounted, while 84% of these counties were undercounted; the national average for error measuring youth was a 5.5% undercount. 

Washington, while not being above the national average of error in measuring the population of young children, still yielded a majority of undercounted counties, with the exceptions of Adams, Kittitas, and Whitman, all overcounted.  

Chelan and Douglas were estimated to be undercounted, between -5.49 to -1.00%. This could be caused by many factors. The Census notes that youth across the country living in multigenerational homes or who live with non-relatives may be harder to count. The populations of Chelan and Douglas counties have been steadily growing since the previous census in 2010, and by the next census in 2030, let us hope this trend will be captured for all ages.