The Census

The Census

Author: Nate Muckley

Learn about What a census is, and the U.S. census taken recently.

This description easily explains the concept of a census, and the reason for the census of the United States.

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What is the Census?


     The Merriam-Webster OnLine dictionary defines a CENSUS as a usually complete enumeration of a population; specifically : a periodic governmental enumeration of population1

      Basically, a census is a population count.

The U.S. Census

     The United States has an official census every ten years. State and local governments can have censuses

more often, but the Constitution mandates that the Federal Government must have one every decade.

     A census form is sent to every US citizen, to be filled out by the head of household.  Every form is either

mailed of hand delivered at the beginning of the year, and are usually due in March, or April.  If the forms are

not recieved by the census bureau, individuals employed by the government will travel to the house, and ask

the head of household to either fill it out then, or tell them the information3.

     There are many purposes for the census.  The main reason is to apportion congressional representatives.  

In the United States House of Representatives, there are two houses.  There is the Senate, in which every

state has two representatives, and there is the Congress, in which each state has a number of

representatives proportional to the population of the state.  In order to have fair representation of each

citizen, there must be an accurate census.2

     But the US census does not only monitor the population.  Along with congressional seats, the census is used

for tracking socioeconomic changes throughout the United States, so lawmakers can respond to any needs

that may arise.2

-The logo and motto of the 2010 census-

The 2010 Census

     The most recent United States census was taken in early 2010.  There was some controversy with the

newest census, however.  Some people, like Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN), thought that some of

the questions were too personal3. The modern census forms ask for more information than just the number

of people in each household: they ask for race, ethnicity, marital status, and other information to help

lawmakers and statisticians understand the demographics of the United States3. Bachmann's  argument

was that those questions were too personal, and went beyond the task of counting the number of people in

each household, as the Constitution says3.  Another controversy is with counting illegal immigrants; if they

are officially counted, then the idea is that congress does not accurately reflect the population of US



     The numbers for the 2010 census are still being processed, but with the help of this population count, the

government can better represent each citizen equally, and work to help the nation.




For more information, log on to the U.S. Census Bureau website 


Source: 1) Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/census 2) Electronic Privacy Information Center. http://epic.org/privacy/census/ 3) Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_States_Census