FiveThirtyEight: Slipping through the census cracks

Ben Casselman and Jody Avirgan discuss how underreporting on the census can skew our perception of government assistance.
2:41 | 06/17/18

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Transcript for FiveThirtyEight: Slipping through the census cracks
We know that people under report. In. The kinds of government assistance they get either may not reveal that they get that assistance at all they mean under report the amount that they. Because. Shame because of because of the stigma attached to it because they may be concerned that if they tally government survey taker that they get this that somehow. You know that could imperil the the benefits that they get. Arm but critically that under reporting seems to be getting works and this is sort of a a fundamental problem that we're seeing in government surveys in general some not only are they under attack in terms. Died. Sure conservative groups that the don't want to have these surveys conducted but we're also getting the it's sort of ground up problem that people are just not responding as regularly as they used to be seen as the political realm of political surveys. But BCA government aren't reliable anymore and reliable government surveys is as well and so that is eroding the the quality of the data that we had. And this food stamps this research paper that taught that they had looked at the effects with regards to food stamps. Showed that because people were under reporting the amount of government help they got in food stamps what was the actual fact of what is it how does that skew our view of these services should the government. Publishes its official poverty statistics saying how much do you make N and RU below the poverty line and then they they publishing a separate tabulation that sort of says. If you county government programs how many people would be lifted off. Well when people under report the government income that they GAAP. Then it makes those programs look less effective than they are and so you know you can look out there and you can say we're spending at. X billion dollars on food stamps and yet all these people are still. Living below the poverty line. So we don't know how effective those programs are an and frankly and this is something that really ought to be concerned wherever you fall. On the political spectrum right and if you think that these programs if you're progressive and you think that. These programs are good programs that address an important need in you want to be able to get the best data possible to show how beneficial it. If you are more conservative you are skeptical of the effects in the benefits of government programs. Anyone wanna get the best data possible to show how they are not succeeding and earned are falling short that they they aren't achieving their goals. Either way. We need to have that date in order to illustrate.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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