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BLOG  |  Children  |  September 18, 2023

Texas Counties with High Child Undercounts in the 2020 U.S. Census

Part 2 of 5, Research Series, The Children’s Census Initiative

The largest group undercounted in the 2020 U.S. Census was young children. In our first report, The 2020 Undercount of Children in Texas, we developed a statewide snapshot of all undercounted children. In the second report of Texas Census Institute’s Children’s Census Initiative (completed in partnership with Dr. Bill O’Hare from Count all Kids), we identify specific counties that experienced high rates of undercounted children. 

117 of 254 counties (46.1%) had a high net undercount of children.

Census data drive funding formulas that distribute billions of dollars to communities in Texas. In counties where the child undercount is high, it is simple to imagine how programs for children are significantly shortchanged. Our second report identifies counties and regions with high concentrations of undercounted children in order to focus census resources on areas of greatest need, improve census participation at the county level, and begin to correct the child undercounts in these counties. Our findings also contribute to the overall understanding of the quality of the 2020 Census, as state-level measures often mask large differences among counties.

Key takeaways from the new report include:

117 of 254 counties (46.1%) had a high net undercount of children.
Counties with a ‘high’ undercount missed more than 5% of children, twice the national rate.
30 of the 190 with a net child undercount account for 46.7% of this issue in Texas.
65.7% of children in Texas live in a county with a high net child undercount.
1 out of every 4 undercounted children reside in the 14 Texas counties along the U.S.-Mexico border (24.7%).

Figure 1 Net undercount rate for children and adults: 1950-2020.

Note: Negative and positive values indicate net undercounting and net overcounting, respectively. 

Figure 2 Texas counties net child undercount rates and numbers.

Note: Uncolored counties experienced a net child overcounting. 

The new report promotes a better understanding of where children are most vulnerable to being missed. Upcoming reports will use these findings to examine characteristics that differentiate counties with high net child undercounts from counties with more accurate counts, identify potential explanations for the undercount, and analyze the short and long term economic implications of undercounting Texas children.


It is never too early to start building the kind of infrastructure that could help reduce the child undercount in the 2030 Census. The Texas Census Institute wants to partner with community organizations, government entities, and industry leaders to get a more accurate count. Sign up for our email updates to be notified when our next report will be released and follow us on LinkedIn to stay connected to our work. Share the research findings with others that might be interested. Together, we can ensure that each child is counted and given equal opportunity and resources to thrive.

Francisco A. Castellanos-Sosa
Texas Census Institute, Senior Research Associate
William P. O’Hare
Count All Kids Campaign, Consultant

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