PEW RESEARCH CENTER FOR THE PEOPLE & THE PRESS
Age, Education, Ethnic and Partisan Gaps
January 20, 2010
As the federal government gears up for its decennial count of the country's population, most Americans think the census is very important and say they will definitely participate. But acceptance of and enthusiasm for the census are not universal. Certain segments of the population such as younger people, Hispanics and the less well educated are not as familiar with the census and are less inclined to participate. In addition, there are partisan differences in opinions about the values of the census, and in personal willingness to participate.
The national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press was conducted Jan. 6-10 among 1,504 adults reached on cell phones and landlines. This is the first in a series of studies about the public's knowledge of and attitudes toward the 2010 U.S. Census.
The survey finds that nine-in-ten Americans describe the census as either very (60%) or somewhat (30%) important for the country, and about eight-in-ten say they will either definitely (58%) or probably (23%) participate. But 8% describe the census as unimportant for the country, and twice that number says that they either "might or might not" participate (10%) or definitely or probably will not (6%). The share saying they may not participate is particularly high among younger Americans, as well as those in lower socio-economic categories.
I, for one, have serous doubts about the 2010 census: I doubt that it will be what the Constitution authorizes. Article I, Section 2 requires an “enumeration” (counting) of citizens to determine representation in the House of Representatives.
For the times the census has been made that I can remember, it has been (even in its “short” form) a probing attempt to learn everything that can be known about everyone. I have never answered all the questions of the census. I have always told how many people were in my household, and their ages. I refuse to supply any more information than that.
I really doubt that anything asked in the upcoming census will be used in any ill manner, though I can’t quite rule that out given the current administration. But with me, it is a matter of principle. No government has the authority to force me to reveal many of the personal things asked about in a modern census.
Besides, it is very clear that many of the questions are intended as fodder for social planners. I have a suggestion for a location into which social planners can go jump. So when my form comes, I will gladly supply all the information that is Constitutionally required, and not an iota more.