Figures Estimate the Size of the Nation’s Population Independent of the 2020 Census
DEC. 15, 2020 — The U.S. Census Bureau today released its 2020 Demographic Analysis, which provides a range of estimates — low, middle and high — for the nation’s population as of April 1, 2020. Instead of collecting responses from households like the 2020 Census, Demographic Analysis uses current and historical vital statistics records and other data to estimate the size of the U.S. population. By releasing these estimates ahead of the first results from the 2020 Census, Demographic Analysis offers an independent measure of the population for comparison with the official census counts.
Based on varying assumptions about the population, Demographic Analysis produced three different estimates for the size of the U.S. population on April 1, 2020:
“The Census Bureau goes to great lengths to ensure the quality of our work,” said Dr. Ron Jarmin, Census Bureau deputy director and chief operating officer. “Demographic Analysis is a valuable resource to help us analyze the completeness of the 2020 Census population count.”
Demographic Analysis estimates are developed using birth and death records, data on international migration, and Medicare records. The range accounts for the levels of uncertainty in the input data and methods used to produce the estimates.
For example, birth and death estimates are regarded as relatively precise since they’re based on the National Vital Statistics System which is very accurate and complete. However, there is greater uncertainty in the estimates of international migration because administrative records are not available to produce those estimates. Instead, we use data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and other sources to estimate international migration.
“Demographic Analysis enables us to utilize already existing data, such as current and historical administrative records and survey data, to estimate the size of the population,” said Dr. Eric Jensen, senior technical expert for Demographic Analysis in the Population Division. “We have done Demographic Analysis since the 1960 Census, and over time our estimates have benefited not only from methodological improvements, but improvements to the available administrative records.”
The final 2020 Census results will be compared against the 2020 Demographic Analysis estimates to produce estimates of potential net coverage error by age, sex, broad race and Hispanic origin groups. A report detailing the 2020 Demographic Analysis estimates of net overcounts and undercounts is planned for release in 2021.
Additionally, in 2021 and 2022, we plan to produce new, experimental sets of estimates, including:
- Estimates for the Hispanic and non-Hispanic populations by sex for ages 0 to 39 (expanded from ages 0 to 29 released today) in 2021.
- Estimates for young children (ages 0 to 4) will be available for the first time at the state and county levels in 2022. These estimates will incorporate current birth records, which are not yet available from local jurisdictions.
- Estimates for the population ages 0 to 17 for White, Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and Two or More Races, and by Hispanic origin in 2022. These estimates incorporate race detail available in both birth and death records since 2003.
The Demographic Analysis estimates are one of two methods used to measure coverage in a census and help us understand what population groups may have been undercounted or overcounted. The other method is part of the Coverage Measurement Program and uses information from the Post-Enumeration Survey, an independent Census Bureau survey, to estimate how many people and housing units were missed or counted erroneously in the 2020 Census. Coverage estimates from the Post-Enumeration Survey are scheduled to be available in November 2021.
The Census Bureau is working hard to process 2020 Census data in order to deliver complete and accurate state population counts as close to the December 31, 2020, statutory deadline as possible.
Demographic Analysis Highlights
In addition to the estimates of the total population for the nation, 2020 Demographic Analysis also provides national-level estimates of the U.S. population by age, sex, broad race and Hispanic origin groups.
Specifically, estimates are available for the number of people who are:
- Black alone/non-Black alone by sex for ages 0 to 85 and above.
- Black alone or in combination/non-Black alone or in combination by sex for ages 0 to 85 and above (expanded from 0 to 29 in the 2010 Demographic Analysis).
- Hispanic/non-Hispanic by sex for ages 0 to 29 (expanded from 0 to 19 in 2010).
These estimates can only be produced in limited race detail because they rely on historical records and measures of race that have changed over time.
Other highlights from today’s release include, in order of low, middle and high estimates:
- The median age of the U.S. population was estimated to be 38.4, 38.5 and 38.7, respectively.
- The percentage of the U.S. population estimated to be Black alone was 13.5, 13.7 and 13.9, respectively.
- The percentage of the population estimated to be Black alone or in combination with other races was 14.9, 15.1 and 15.4, respectively.
- The sex ratio (number of males per 100 females) for the total population was 98.1 in the low and high series and 98.2 in the middle series. The sex ratio for the population under the age of 30 was 104.2 in the low series and 104.3 in the middle and high series.
- For the population under the age of 30, the percentage estimated to be Hispanic was 23.0, 24.6 and 26.0, respectively. Demographic Analysis estimates of the population by Hispanic origin are not produced for all ages because the Hispanic origin option was not widely available on birth and death records until the 1990s.
Demographic Analysis only estimates the national population for these demographic categories, so its estimates cannot be compared to more detailed 2020 Census data that will show the population in states, cities, counties, census tracts and at the block level.
The complete tables can be found on the 2020 Demographic Analysis home page.