Friday, April 16, 2010

MAM Day 16: US Census 2010

Friday April 16 is the deadline for the United States Census! If you haven't filled it out yet, please do so. Although I was troubled by the race questions, I still believe it's very important for everyone to participate, it's our civic duty! The United States Census is a decennial (once every 10 years) census mandated by the United States Constitution., but funding, services, and politics all depend on the Census.

Not only is it our civic duty to fill out the US Census, the taxpayers of the US will save money - This year, if every household mailed back its census form, taxpayers would save $1.5 billion in costs from sending census takers door-to-door to collect the same information.

Although I don't know very much about the Census, I read up on the Census website and found some cool math related links further down on this blog post. On the surface, the Census is merely counting and getting the most accurate demographic data on the US. The Census is less involved with math directly, but statistical analysis after the Census has been returned is where the math makes the Census so important.

  • From the US Census: When you fill out your 2010 census form, you help determine how more than $400 billion a year is distributed in communities like yours.
  • From the Director, U.S. Census Bureau: Census results are used to decide the number of representatives each state has in the U.S. Congress. The amount of government money your neighborhood receives also depends on these answers. That money is used for services for children and the elderly, roads, and many other local needs.
  • From C.N. Le, Sociology Professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst: "For many sociologists and other scholars like me, the census data that is compiled every 10 years is flat-out the most reliable, comprehensive, and best source of data on the American population."

My roommate and I questioned the "race" questions on the Census, so I looked it up and tried to make sense of the weirdness on the form.

This webpage explains why they ask race questions:
Asked since 1790. Race is key to implementing many federal laws and is needed to monitor compliane with the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. State governments use the data to determine congressional, state and local voting districts. Race data are also used to assess fairness of employment practices, to monitor racial disparities in characteristics such as health and education and to plan and obtain funders for public services.

More answers to these following questions
  • Why isn’t there a checkbox for my ethnic group on the form?
  • Why is the Census Bureau spending money on advertising during these tough economic times?
    For every one percent increase in mail response in 2010, the census will save $85 million that would otherwise have to be spent on door-to-door follow-up with households that didn’t respond.
  • In this day and age, why is the word “Negro” included as part of the race question on the 2010 Census form?

It's incredible the statistics that come from the information after the Census has been completed. These are just a few of the links I found off the Census website. It would take weeks possibly months to browse through all of the data, but it's all necessary to make sure communities get the government funding it deserves.


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