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What Was Not Included in the Data and Why?

TUESDAY, OCT 05, 2021

Contrary to fever dreams among right-wing politicians, the Census does not ask about the following:

  • Religious preference

  • Political affiliation

  • Gun ownership

  • Citizenship status

  • Personal financial details

Every question asked by the Census, or the American Community Survey for that matter, is the result of a congressional law. Extremely controversial questions, such as pertaining to political or religious affiliation, would stand little chance of winning congressional approval.

Former President Donald Trump, for example, attempted to dilute minority representation by trying to insert an additional question into the 2020 Census that would have required people to provide their citizenship status. Fortunately, the effort was defeated by a series of lengthy and time-consuming court battles.

The Census is often confused with the ACS because of the relative novelty of the survey. Prior to 2010, 1 in 6 American households would receive a “long form” from the Census, asking questions about their housing, income, family, education, work, and transportation. Businesses and policymakers, however, realized that the long form data became quickly outdated. For instance, many things changed between 2001 and 2009, which led to the push for a more up-to-date product. The decennial Census, however, is still often confused with the American Community Survey.

Author: Frank Bass

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