Population Research and Policy Review 21: 3–16, 2002.
© 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
A ﬁrst look at the 21st Century: Census 2000
JUDITH WALDROP & JOHN F. LONG
U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, USA
Abstract. This paper examines the initial results from Census 2000. It focuses on population
growth and distribution, and the ﬁve population characteristics from the 100-percent data: age,
sex, Hispanic origin, race, and household relationship. It explores emerging trends within an
historical and global context.
Keywords: Census, population distribution, age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin
Although researchers keep a close eye on demographic trends throughout the
decade, Census 2000 was not without surprises. With the ﬁrst release of data,
demographers were taken aback by faster than anticipated population growth.
Even though increasing diversity was expected, it was generally thought that
the Hispanic population would not outnumber the African American popula-
tion until the next census. Even though demographers knew the birth dearth
of the late 1920s and early 1930s would result in slow growth among the
population aged 65 and older, most did not expect the elderly
to decline as a
proportion of all Americans.
It takes a census to open our eyes. Census 2000 asked everyone in the
United States the same questions on age, sex, Hispanic origin, race, and
household relationship. For every question from these 100-percent data, there
are several complementary questions from the sample data. For instance,
the 100-percent data, which are available now, measure the size and geo-
graphic distribution of the young-adult population. When the sample data
become available, they will provide information about this generation’s socio-
economic status, including educational attainment, labor force participation,
occupation, and income.
The new data linked with 200 years of historical statistics provide a de-
tailed demographic picture of a diverse and changing America. Data from
Census 2000 not only describe current conditions, but also provide clues
about future demographic change.