University of Virginia Demographers Improve Census Preparation

May 7, 2008 — More Virginians may be counted in the next United States Census thanks to research conducted by demographers at the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

Funded by a grant from Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, researchers from the Cooper Center's Demographics and Workforce section identified more than 5,000 nursing homes, residential treatment centers, correctional facilities and college and university dormitories — known as "group quarters" — and checked to be certain each facility, with its correct address, is included the Census Bureau's list for the 2010 census.

According to Qian Cai, director of the Demographics and Workforce section, "An accurate census list is critical to Virginia, since the count determines each state's representation in Congress, affects the size and shape of voting districts for the General Assembly and influences funding for a variety of community programs and services."  Susan Perrone, a former U.S. Census employee with degrees in statistics and mathematics from Yale and Clemson, led this most recent research project, known as "Local Update of Census Addresses," or LUCA.

Working through the governor's office, cabinet secretaries and state agency heads, Perrone developed the starting list of 5,000 group quarters facilities, eliminated duplicates and used a combination of sophisticated geographic information systems analysis, automating matching, and SAS programming to identify facilities which may not be included in the current census address lists. She also identified corrections needed in the addresses, names or classifications of the facilities that are on the Census Bureau's current list. A complete report to the governor and the Census Bureau reflects the results.

"Each reported result will be tested by the Census Bureau through an address canvassing operation in the spring of 2009, so we won't know the full impact of our research until then," Perrone said, "but we expect the impact of Virginia's participation in LUCA to be substantial because of the number of suggested additions and changes we identified. In the end, any resident of the Commonwealth added to the census count because of our work is good news for Virginia."

For information, contact Susan Perrone at 434-982-5690 or