Questions on the U.S. Census

The United States Census includes plenty of questions. Have you ever wondered why certain questions are asked? The United States Census Bureau has some information about that.

The U.S. Census asks for a person’s last name, first name, and middle initial. The name question originated with the 1790 Census. It was added to the ACS in 2005 when it replaced the decennial census long form.

The Census asks for the name of each person in a household because they have found that including names makes it easier for a respondent to keep track of which person they are answering for if the names are used. This is especially true for large families.

Place of Birth, Citizenship, Year of Entry
Where was this person born? Is this person a citizen of the United States? When did this person come to live in the United States? Each question appears on the U.S. Census.

The citizenship question originated with the 1820 Census. The place of birth question originated with the 1850 Census. The year of entry question originated with the 1890 Census. All three were transferred to the ACS in 2005 when it replaced the decennial census long form.

Agencies and policymakers use the Census’s published statistics to set and evaluate immigration policies and laws, to understand the experience of different immigrant groups, and to enforce laws, policies, and regulations against discrimination based on national origin.

The U.S. Census asks several questions about disabilities. It asks if a person is blind or deaf. It asks if a person has difficulty with certain tasks due to a physical, mental, or emotional condition.

Disability questions originated with the 1830 Census. The current questions were added to the ACS in 2008.

Local, state, tribal, and federal agencies use disability data to plan and fund programs for people with disabilities. It is also used to evaluate other government programs and policies to ensue that they fairly and equitably serve the needs of all groups. It is also used to enforce laws, regulations, and policies against discrimination.

Plumbing Facilities, Kitchen Facilities, Telephone Service
The Census asks if a house, apartment, or mobile home has: hot and cold running water, a bathtub or shower, a sink with a faucet, a stove or range, a refrigerator, and a telephone service from which a person can both make and receive calls.

These questions are to gather data on housing quality. This data can be used to plan and fund programs for housing assistance, rehabilitation loans, and sanitary housing. Public health officials use this information to locate areas in danger of groundwater contamination and waterborne diseases.

The plumbing facilities and kitchen facilities question originated on the 1940 Census. The telephone service question originated with the 1960 Census.

Related Articles at

* The First U.S. Census

* Before the Civil War – The 1860 Census

* The 2020 Census has Funding Problems

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