Two Counts of Welfare in New York City

A Comparison of City and Census Data for 1969

by C. Peter Rydell

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The 1970 census of population undercounted the number of welfare cases in New York City during 1969 by 40 percent. The census also underestimated the amount of welfare income received in New York City during 1969 by 40 percent. The income underestimation is almost entirely due to the undercount of welfare cases, rather than to an underestimate of the average annual grant per case. There is no available evidence to indicate whether the undercount of cases was caused by a failure to survey part of the welfare population or by failure of welfare recipients to admit that they received welfare income. There is evidence, however, that individual welfare cases were more severely undercounted than family welfare cases.

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