California spent $4.75 per capita to conduct the 2020 census, compared to an average of 55 cents per capita in the other states with similar results, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reported September 8.
The data was included in a PPIC Policy Brief that discusses the accuracy of the state’s count, as determined by comparing the official count to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s “post-enumeration survey,” which provides “survey-based coverage estimates” of the U.S. census data.
“California’s 2020 count was quite accurate, just 0.47 percent higher than it would have been if everyone had been counted correctly,” the PPIC wrote, citing the post-enumeration survey. “This estimate is not statistically different from zero, meaning it is not possible to confidently say there was any over- or undercount in California at all. This outcome ranks California 12th among all states in closeness to a perfect count, slightly off the national undercount of -0.24 percent. This is an excellent result and certainly the best that ought to be expected for this overall number.”
The PPIC acknowledged that “California spent a great deal more money than the other states that achieved accurate counts,” but attributed the spending to “California’s disproportionately hard-to-count population – and California’s extra effort may have saved the state from a significant undercount.”
The policy brief does not discuss other factors that may have caused California’s costs to be more than eight times higher than the average of the other comparable states.