This year the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press is conducting a series of studies about the public’s knowledge and attitudes about the 2010 U.S. Census. The first survey in the series, conducted Jan. 6-10 among 1,504 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, is being released today.
It finds that most Americans think the census is very important (60%) and say they definitely will participate (58%). But enthusiasm for the census is not universal. In particular, younger people, Hispanics and the less well educated are not as familiar with the census and are less likely to participate than other groups. In addition, there are partisan differences in opinions about the value of the census, and in personal willingness to participate.
The survey also probed knowledge of some basic facts about the census. Most Americans know that the census is used to decide states’ representation in Congress (64%) and that the census is not used to locate illegal immigrants so they can be arrested (68%). But just 31% know that participation in the census is required by law.