Nancy Bates Senior Researcher for Survey Methodology, Associate Directorate for Research and Methodology
As the statistical agency responsible for enumerating every person residing within the United States, finding and counting the so-called “hard to reach” is in the Census Bureau’s organizational DNA. Still, in 2008 when I was researching how best to target the 2010 Census communications campaign, I was struck by the lack of empirical and peer reviewed research on methods to reach hard to count populations.
So, I did what any good empirical researcher would do when confronted with an untapped research opportunity – I pitched the idea of holding a special research conference devoted to the topic. Finding support wasn’t difficult since it has been 20 years since a similar conference was held in the U.S. Obviously new hard-to-reach populations have emerged since then (as well as innovative solutions for measuring them). Why not pull together researchers from around the world to share their stories and successes? Thus the International Conference on Methods for Surveying and Enumerating Hard to Reach Populations was born (aka the “H2R 2012”).
The conference will be held October 31-November 3 in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the New Orleans Marriott at the Convention Center. Addressing both the statistical and survey design aspects of including hard-to-reach groups, researchers will report findings from censuses, surveys and other research related to the identification, definition, measurement, and methodologies for surveying undercounted populations. The conference is supported by the Census Bureau and more than 20 other government agencies, not for profits, and private sector survey research firms. The American Statistical Association will manage the conference.
The conference will include a plenary session on the All Ireland Traveller Health Survey. Travellers are a minority group on the island of Ireland, with a separate identity, culture and history. They are nomadic, socially disadvantaged, have high illiteracy levels, their own language (“shelta,”) and poor life expectancy and health status. The community is hard to reach in both geographical and psychosocial terms. The plenary will present both a methodological perspective from the survey director and a community perspective from community peer researchers.
In addition, the program will feature over 150 paper presentations including sessions on immigrant populations, populations affected by natural disasters, stigmatized populations, and homeless populations. Research on innovative sampling techniques, recruitment methods, use of community-based organizations, and social marketing and outreach campaigns will also be presented.
Perhaps the most exciting outcome of the conference will be the work products. These will include a 30 chapter invited monograph, a special issue planned for the Journal of Official Statistics, and online conference proceedings.
Registration is now open and the online program is available at the H2R website. (http://www.amstat.org/meetings/h2r/2012/index.cfm?fuseaction=main)