By on 4.28.20 in Carolina Demographics, Census 2020

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Note: The below analysis was done on 4/22/2020 with the self-response rate data released at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21, to try to better understand trends in North Carolina’s response to the 2020 Census.

Analysis: Foreign-Born Residents

We are seeing, on average, higher self-response rates in census tracts with higher foreign-born residents.

At the same time, tracts where the largest racial/ethnic group is Hispanic/Latinx have lower average self-response rates. Average self-response rates by dominant race/ethnic group is:

  • 32.2% in American Indian tracts (15 tracts)
  • 39.4% in Hispanic/Latinx tracts (29 tracts)
  • 42.0% in Black tracts (367 tracts)
  • 48.4% in non-Hispanic white tracts (1,749 tracts)
  • 53% in Asian/Pacific Islander tracts (4 tracts)

I tried to unpack these differences by splitting tracts into 10 categories based on the size of the foreign-born population and also looked at the non-citizen foreign-born population (see below table). There are about 217 tracts in each segment. A few interesting things:

% Foreign-Born

  • The pattern of higher self-response among tracts with high concentrations of foreign-born residents holds until you get to the highest concentration (16% or more). These tracts are the only tracts with any significant share of households receiving bilingual questionnaires (on average: 5.9% households will receive bilingual internet first and 10.9% will receive bilingual internet choice).
    • While the concentration of Hispanic/Latinx residents is much higher in this segment, so is the concentration of Asian/Pacific Islander residents.
  • Some of the relationship between high foreign-born concentrations and high self-response may be partly explained by high internet penetration. You can see the share of households without internet generally decreases with higher immigrant concentration.

% Non-Citizen Foreign-Born

  • There is a stronger relationship  between high levels of non-citizen immigrants and lower response rates, though it mainly emerges in the top 2 segments with the highest percentage of non-citizen immigrant residents (7.1% or more).
  • The correlation between household internet access and % non-citizen immigrant is less strong. This may be because non-citizen immigrant density is higher in rural communities (while immigrants in urban areas may be more likely to be citizens), so this is capturing more rural, low internet areas.
    • You also see slightly higher share of Update/Leave households, on average, in the higher share % non-citizen immigrant tracts, which suggests that there is a rural component that intersects with these responses. This will have a larger impact on Hispanic/Latinx communities (more likely to be rural) than Asian/Pacific Islander communities (more likely to be urban).
  • There is a larger increase in % Hispanic population with rising non-citizen immigrant population than in Asian/Pacific Islander increase. (Both populations increase in higher non-citizen tracts, but the concentration of Latinx population is more pronounced in non-citizen tracts than in all immigrant tracts.)

Examining Predominantly Hispanic Tracts

I also looked at the average self-response in the 29 predominantly Hispanic census tracts by county. Thirteen counties have at least one predominantly Hispanic tract.. The list below includes county name (# of predominantly Hispanic tracts) and the average 2020 self-response (as of 4/21/2020) in these tracts:

  • Alamance (1) – 48.2%
  • Cabarrus (1) – 36.7%
  • Chatham (2) – 42.3%
  • Duplin (1) – 27.1%
  • Durham (2) – 33.9%
  • Forsyth (4) – 36.1%
  • Guilford (1) – 31.6%
  • Lee (2) – 40.2%
  • Mecklenburg (10) – 41.3%
  • Sampson (1) – 41.7%
  • Union (2) – 42.4%
  • Wake (1) – 45.8%
  • Wayne (1) – 37.6%

Contact strategies for predominantly Hispanic tracts

All households in predominantly Hispanic tracts in Alamance, Cabarrus, Lee, Sampson, Union, and Wayne were contacted by Internet Choice: Bilingual (questionnaire in first mailing), as were most households in Chatham (99.4%). While the predominantly Hispanic tract in Alamance has a higher self-response rate than the state average (48.2%), this was not a pattern seen in the other counties.

9.6% of households in Duplin were supposed to receive their questionnaire through Update/Leave. Duplin has the lowest self-response rate among predominantly Hispanic tracts (27.1%) of any county. The share of households in predominantly Hispanic tracts receiving their questionnaire by Update/Leave was less than one percent in Durham (0.8%), Chatham (0.6%), Forsyth (0.3%), and Mecklenburg (0.1%).

In Guilford (100%), Durham (52.2%), Mecklenburg (44.6%), and Forsyth (25%), large portions of households predominantly Hispanic tracts were contacted by Internet First: Bilingual, meaning they may not have received a paper questionnaire yet. These communities may see increased response rates with the mailing of the paper questionnaire in April.

With the exception of Forsyth County, the relationship between response rates in predominantly Hispanic tracts and the share of households contacted by Internet First: Bilingual mailings may explain a large portion of the lower performance among these tracts in urban counties. In Forsyth County, 42.6% of households in its predominantly Hispanic tracts were contacted by Internet Choice: English for the census. This may influence some of the lower response in Forsyth.

Last, in Wake County, 100% of households in its predominantly Hispanic tract were contacted with Internet First: English. This was the contact strategy for 46.7% of households in predominantly Hispanic tracts in Mecklenburg. The paper questionnaire in April may also help increase response rates in these communities, assuming that English literacy is not a barrier for most households.


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