Former Census director and Rice U. sociologist available to discuss citizenship question announcement

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations


Jeff Falk

Amy McCaig

Former Census director and Rice U. sociologist available to discuss citizenship question announcement
Expert says Texas, California and some other states likely to be disproportionately affected by question

HOUSTON – (March 27, 2018) – As the U.S. Census Bureau announces plans to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census form, Rice University sociologist Steve Murdock, the former director of the Census Bureau from 2007 to 2009, is available to discuss this change.



“It is clear that the secretary and the Census Bureau have not taken this step without careful consideration of a variety of factors,” Murdock said. “At the same time, how much the inclusion of this question will affect the overall response rate to the census is largely unknown.”

Murdock said the likely reduction in the response rate will not affect all states and jurisdictions equally.

“States such as California, Texas and many other western, southwestern and other states are likely to be affected disproportionately if there are potential respondents who, when seeing the question on citizenship, decide not to reply to the census at all,” he said. “Specific states, areas within states (such as central city areas) and in many cases the fastest-growing states with the largest number of both residents and undocumented persons are likely to be affected disproportionately.”

Murdock said this would mean that not only do such states potentially have fewer elected representatives than the number of persons in their actual populations merit, but they have less accurate data for the determination of whether a corporate entity will place facilities to meet consumer needs in specific parts of their states.

“A careful and complete census count is only obtained once per decade,” Murdock concluded. “As a result, we as a nation must be sure that our counts are as accurate as possible and that those counted accurately reflect the diversity and the distribution of our population.”

Murdock is the Allyn R. and Gladys M. Cline Professor of Sociology at Rice. He served as Census director after being nominated for the position by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2007. He served until the change in administration in January 2009. Murdock also served as the first state demographer of Texas, appointed to the position by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He is the author or editor of 15 books and more than 150 articles and technical reports on the implications of current and future demographic and socioeconomic change. For more information on Murdock, visit

To schedule an interview with Murdock, contact Amy McCaig, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6777 or

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.


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About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.