Today Count All Kids published a brief by Deborah Griffin, a statistician and former Census Bureau employee, that compares the estimated net undercount of the youngest children in 2020 to the undercount of the youngest children in 2010. The 2010 Census edited birth dates of children born after April 1, 2010 (children that the census should have excluded) to birth dates in early 2010. These edits inflated the 2010 Census count of children born in January, February and March of 2010. The 2020 Census edits were revised and the final 2020 Census counts do not include children born after April 1, 2020. This brief adjusted the 2010 Census results to better approximate the enumeration errors of very young children in the 2010 Census. The adjusted 2010 Census net undercount estimates show that the youngest children (age 0) were the children with the greatest enumeration shortcomings in both the 2010 and the 2020 Census.
As we work to improve the count of all young children, we need to pay particular attention to the challenges of counting the youngest babies. We should evaluate the success of efforts in maternity wards and outreach through pediatricians and obstetricians. Research is warranted to determine if improved question wording and messaging about including all children, especially newborns and infants, might reduce enumeration errors. We should assess the potential value of alternate administrative data bases that might supplement the census to ensure these newborns are counted.