2020 US Census Panel Presentations and Resources

Census Intro HallThe Differential Privacy in the 2020 US Census panel was held on September 20th with presenters John Abowd, Andrew Beveridge, Abraham Flaxman, Shannon Monnat,  and moderated by Matt Hall.  The event was hosted by CPC and co-sponsored by PAM.

Panelists discussed Census objectives and plans for differential privacy; technical aspects and implications for data users; and concerns for applied demography, engaged and academic work.


John Abowd, U.S. Census Bureau and Professor of Economics and Statistics and Information Science, Cornell University, Differential Privacy and the 2020 Census

Andrew Beveridge, Queens College, Graduate Center CUNY and Social Explorer, Will Differentially Privatized Data Be Adequate for Redistricting?

Abraham Flaxman, University of Washington, Anticipating Differential Privacy in the 2020 US Census (with Samantha Petti)

Shannon Monnat, Maxwell School, Syracuse University, Differential Privacy: Research Concerns

Resources and News Articles

Dr. Flaxman has written his popular blog, http://healthyalgorithms.com, since 2008. His posts cover mathematics, computer science, and his research at IHME.

Researchers question Census Bureau’s new approach to privacy, Boston Globe article with comments from University of Minesota demographer Steven Ruggles.

The Program on Applied Demographics (PAD) brings skills in demographics, economics, statistics, data gathering and data analysis together to provide a variety of organizations with data, information and advice. PAD works closely with the New York State Department of Labor, the U.S. Census Bureau and other organizations to assist them in their activities.

Presenter Bios

John Abowd is the U.S. Census Bureau’s associate director for research and methodology, and chief scientist. He was named to the position in June 2016. The Research and Methodology Directorate leads critical work to modernize our operations and products. He is leading the agency’s efforts to create a differentially private protection system for the 2020 Census and future data products. His long association with the Census Bureau began in 1998 when he joined the team that helped found the longitudinal employer-household dynamics program. In 2008, he led the team that created the world’s first application of a differentially private protection system for the program’s OnTheMap job location tool. Abowd is a fellow and past president of the Society of Labor Economists. He is also a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Econometric Society, as well as an elected member of the International Statistical Institute. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and an A.B. from the Department of Economics at the University of Notre Dame.

Andrew Beveridge is Professor of Sociology at Queens College and the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. He received his Ph.D. and M.Phil. in sociology from Yale University and his B.A with honors in economics from Yale College. He has numerous publications, many of which use Census data. Since 1993, Dr. Beveridge has been a consultant to the New York Times, which has published numerous news reports and maps based upon his analysis of the Census data. He has received grant and fellowship support from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and other agencies. He and his team developed Social Explorer (www.socialexplorer.com) which allows user to visualize and make reports on changes in the US from 1790 to the present using Census data. Originally funded by the National Science Foundation, the product is licensed by over 450 college, university and research libraries and private, public and non-profit organizations. He has testified in numerous civil rights cases involving housing, jury systems, redistricting and criminal justice, all using census data. He has contributed to a number of amicus briefs, including two that were cited in the recent Supreme Court cases, one on the Census citizenship question, and another on partisan gerrymandering.

Abraham Flaxman, is Associate Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. He is currently leading the development of new methods for cost effective analysis with microsimulation and is engaged in methodological and operational research on verbal autopsy. Dr. Flaxman has previously designed software tools such as DisMod-MR that IHME uses to estimate the Global Burden of Disease, and the Bednet Stock-and-Flow Model, which has produced estimates of insecticide-treated net coverage in sub-Saharan Africa. This work uses Integrative Systems Modeling to combine a system dynamics model of process with a statistical model of data to bring together all available sources of information.

Prior to being professor, Dr. Flaxman was a Post-Graduate Fellow at IHME, and before that he was a post-doctoral fellow at Microsoft Research.

Dr. Flaxman has written his popular blog, http://healthyalgorithms.com, since 2008. His posts cover mathematics, computer science, and his research at IHME.

Shannon Monnat is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Senior Research Associate in the Center forPolicy Research. She is also the Lerner Chair for Public Health Promotion and Co-Director of the Policy,Place, and Population Health Lab at SU. Dr. Monnat received her Ph.D. in Sociology at the State University of New York at Albany in 2008. Monnat’s research interests broadly fall at the intersection of place, public policy, and health. A common theme binding much of her research is a concern for rural people and places. Her most recent research has focused on fatal drug overdose and other diseases and deaths of despair, particularly trying to understand why rates of substance abuse and mortality are higher in some places than others. She has published over 70 peer-reviewed academic journal articles, book chapters, research briefs, and reports, and has presented her research to numerous public, academic, and policy audiences, including the United Nations, the National Academy of Sciences, the Aspen Institute, and at Congressional briefings. Her research has been featured in several media outlets, including CNN, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Atlantic.