Population Research and Policy Review 21: 39–51, 2002.
© 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Demographic comparison between self-response and personal
visit interview in Census 2000
JAMES B. TREAT & HERBERT F. STACKHOUSE
U.S. Bureau of the Census, Washington, DC
Abstract. During Census 2000, over 95 percent of the housing units were in mailback areas.
In these areas either the United States Postal Service or Census Bureau staff delivered the
census questionnaire. In urban and suburban areas of the country, the United States Postal
Service delivered the census questionnaires between March 13 and 15 of 2000. The addresses
in these areas are predominately city style; house number and street name. In more rural areas
of the country with predominately non-city style addresses, Census Bureau staff delivered
the questionnaire during March of 2000. Respondents completed their census questionnaires
and returned them through the mail. Returns from these housing units are classiﬁed as self-
response. Respondents which did not complete and return their census questionnaire by April
18, 2000 were interviewed during the nonresponse followup operation (personal visit inter-
view). This paper will examine the demographic characteristics of persons enumerated on the
mail return questionnaire (self-response) and the persons enumerated during the nonresponse
followup operation (personal visit interview).
Keywords: Response to census, Nonresponse followup, Person characteristics
This paper compares the demographic characteristics of persons who self
reported their data versus those for whom an interviewer collected their data.
First, we presents an overview of the Census 2000 design. The overview
provides a discussion on the following components: the type of question-
naires, the data collection operations, the type of enumeration areas, the
enumeration methods and the deﬁnition of mail return rate.
The paper provides a discussion of the level of respondent cooperation
to Census 2000; with a comparison to previous censuses. Next, we provide
a comparison of missing data rates between respondent completed ques-
tionnaires and interviewer completed questionnaires. The missing data rates
examine one housing unit characteristic and four person characteristics. The
housing unit characteristic is tenure; i.e., owner versus renter. The person
level characteristics are sex, age, race and Hispanic origin. Finally, for each
of the four person demographics and tenure, we compare the distribution of