My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘international’

Concern Growing in Canada Over Recent Census Decision

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

This article is worth reading because it does an excellent job of discussing the wide reaching impact of Census data (even if it is Canadian Census data):

The census can look dull or irrelevant to the average citizen, a twice-a-decade event that only policy wonks, academics and journalists really care about.

But like the foundation of a building, census data are largely invisible but crucially important, affecting the lives of any citizen who has a child, drives a car, goes to school, moves here from another country, retires, works — or loses their job — shops, gets sick, wants to live in a safe neighbourhood, needs a helping hand from a charity or wants to know the money they donate will be put to good use.

“It really does touch your life, but not until you need it or you see it do you realize it,” says Doug Norris, director general of social and demographic statistics at Statistics Canada until 2005 and now chief demographer and senior vice-president with Environics Analytics.

Since the Conservatives announced three weeks ago they’re scrapping Canada’s long-form census in 2011 and replacing it with a voluntary survey — a move they say was prompted by privacy complaints — opposition has been mounting steadily. The short-form census remains mandatory. An array of experts and organizations have panned the decision, insisting it will destroy the statistical backbone of municipalities, social programs, community organizations and private businesses that touch nearly every aspect of the lives of ordinary Canadians……

Municipalities use information gleaned from long-form questions on how people get to work and where they work to plan bridges, roads and public transportation projects and budgets, says Derek Cook, research social planner with the City of Calgary.

“We may never again get neighbourhood level statistical data and what the hell are we going to do if we don’t have neighbourhood data? How are we going to plan?” he says. “It’s like taking a carpenter’s hammer away and asking him to go continue to build the house.”

Like Cook, Brent Toderian, director of city planning for Vancouver, said census data so fundamentally underlie everything a city plans for its residents that he struggles to pinpoint a single instance.

“It’s literally the starting point of all of our work, so pick a project,” he says, mentioning school boards, new transit lines and aging neighborhoods as a handful of examples. “The tendrils of this work go all the way through every city in the country.”

Canada’s crazy (by Canadian standards) census controversy…

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

The Canadian census soap opera continues!

Will this census be our last?

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Two days ago, the BBC reported that the UK’s 2011 Census may the that nation’s last:

In future, data could be gathered from records held by the Post Office, local government and credit checking agencies – thought to be more effective.

The government said it was “examining” whether changes could be made but no decision had been reached.

This is an interesting development, particularly as funds for the 2020 Census will soon be allocated. Though pro-immigration groups and organizations like the ACLU feel that forcing everyone in America to register with the government would be problematic, many nations already have national identity cards, which, if implemented in the US, would make creating a “portrait of America” that much easier.

The Census in India…

Monday, May 31st, 2010

If you think enumerating 300 million people is hard, imagine what it’s like to enumerate 1.2 billion people in a developing country. This is the task that India is currently trying to perform. While there isn’t much backlash over the act of participating in the census (which is a responsibility of civil service workers rather than people hired specifically to work as temporary employees of the census), there are some issues over how caste, the old school Indian class system, should be factored into this count. I’ve been reading about this issue for about a month now and discussing it with Indian friends. I was waiting for the right moment to mention it here, but now that the Associated Press has written about it, it seems to be the appropriate time:

NEW DELHI — Bollywood’s biggest star has an answer ready if census workers ask about his caste: “Indian.’’

“My father never believed in caste, and neither do any of us,’’ Amitabh Bachchan wrote in his obsessively followed blog.

Comments like Bachchan’s are common in modern India, which prides itself on how it has transcended some of its most rigid traditions — and those beliefs are being heard more often as the government debates whether the national census should delve into caste.

But Joseph D’Souza doesn’t believe such talk for a moment.

“There’s a lot of lip service to saying ‘I’m an Indian first,’ and ‘I don’t believe in caste,’ ’’ said D’Souza, a prominent campaigner for dalits, as India’s “untouchables’’ at the very bottom of the caste system are now known.

“When it comes to sharing power, to interaction, to sharing social status, low-caste Indians are very much marginalized,’’ he said, arguing the census could provide firm data about the vast divisions.

India’s census, being held in stages over the next year or so, delves into the wealth, living conditions, and other personal details of the country’s 1.2 billion people. But still undecided is one question — “What is your caste?’’ — that has infuriated much of India’s elite, energized caste-based political parties, and left in doubt millions of government jobs and university slots.

The debate has also made very clear that caste, the Hindu custom that for millennia has divided people in a strict social hierarchy based on their family’s traditional livelihood and ethnicity, remains a deeply sensitive subject. (more…)

India kicks off world’s biggest head count

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I spent some time in India in December/January of this year, and let me tell you, if you think we’ve got a tough time counting people in America, it’s going to be one hundred times worse in India where people live on the streets, in train stations, and oftentimes change residences frequently. Good luck to our colleagues in India, because they’re going to need it…

From the Associated Press:

By NIRMALA GEORGE (AP) – 1 hour ago

NEW DELHI — India kicked off the national census of its billion-plus population Thursday with a 2.5 million strong army of census-takers fanning out across the country to conduct what has been billed the world’s largest administrative exercise.

The census, conducted every 10 years, has a new element this year with the collection of biometric data in which every citizen over the age of 15 will be photographed and fingerprinted, information that will form the base of a new National Population Register of the country’s 1.2 billion population.

“It is for the first time in human history that an attempt is being made to identify, count, enumerate and record and eventually issue an identity card to 1.2 billion people,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said.

So far, India has not had a system of issuing a national identity number or card to its citizens. The collection of biometric data using a combination of fingerprint and facial identification will be linked with another massive exercise launched last year to ensure that every Indian gets assigned a single identity number.

President Pratibha Patil marked the start of the 11-month exercise Thursday at her pink sandstone presidential palace, which became the first household to be listed for the first phase of the census known as ‘houselisting.’

Over the next six months, census-takers, or ‘enumerators,’ will travel across more than 630,000 villages and over 5,000 cities in the country to visit every structure that serves as a home to put together a national data base. From skyscrapers to tin shanties, census takers will note details such as the availability of drinking water and electricity, and the type of construction material used for a comprehensive picture of housing stock in India.

The census-takers also plan to include millions of homeless people who sleep on railway platforms, under bridges and in parks.

Census-takers are typically government officials, school teachers or other local officials who go home-to-home collecting data on the size of families, marital status, education and work information. For the first time, they also will count bank account holders and cell phone users.

While China, the world’s most populous country, also counts its population, its census is carried out by various agencies, including Communist Party units, commune leaders and factory heads, unlike the New Delhi-based Registrar and Census Commission that carries out India’s count.

India’s census will face a special challenge from left-wing extremists active in 20 of the country’s 28 states who have stepped up a campaign of violent attacks on government officials.

The census-takers plan to finish their work by February 2011. The information will be used for government policymaking, planning and budget allocations.

This will be India’s 15th census being held without interruption at the turn of every decade. Census operations in India were started in 1872 by British colonial rulers.