Sense and Census-ability
April 13, 2020 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Awareness is (slowly) increasing that the Census in the US is underway, and the Bureau of the Census has extended deadlines and made other operational adjustments, with calls for pushing back the deadlines further. Interactive data is available for each US state and county (web page for response rates, Tableau interactive dashboard) so you can see how well your local area is doing . Current response rates show less than 50% have completed. As a reminder the results of this once-a-decade count determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives. They are also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

Yes the census is still happening (34 minute NPR Code Switch broadcast). But good news - you can do it online and it has only 10 questions and only takes about 10 minutes to fill out. This will help reduce how many Census workers may need to physically knock on doors this summer. Guides available in 59 non-English languages (including Braille) and a video in American Sign Language.

And no - the 2020 Census does not ask whether you or anyone in your home is a U.S. citizen. NPR's Code Switch discusses who counts in 2020 - and why this is important for minorities, including how the US census misses people of color – and why it's so harmful.

Feel like 10 questions every 10 years for the US Census really isn't enough to scratch your administrative itch? You can always view the American Community Survey Form - which only goes to a much smaller sample of houses monthly, or view census forms for other countries (some samples are linked below). They are mostly substantial longer than the US form. Or you can visit the UN Statistics Division's list of Census forms for example forms from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

Australia - 61 questions
New Zealand - two forms dwelling form with 21 questions and individual form with 50 questions
Canada - 60 questions
South Africa - multiple different forms with many questions
posted by inflatablekiwi (60 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do most people just regularly throw away their mail, or ignore it for several weeks? I don't understand how "awareness of the census" is a widespread problem.

I noticed that, while the questions asked about "sex" rather than gender, it managed to exclude intersex people. And the way the racial questions are asked is just bizarre.
posted by Foosnark at 9:47 AM on April 13 [11 favorites]


We got the mailer with our login code several weeks ago, and got around to doing it a few days into our lock-in. It was definitely shorter than I expected. I also noted that the questions seemed shaded toward determining if you were hispanic.

Is there no long version this year? I recall in the (pre-intarwebs) past, people randomly got a much longer form to fill out.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:04 AM on April 13


Do most people just regularly throw away their mail, or ignore it for several weeks?

Most of my mail these days is junk mail, and quite a lot of the junk mail is formatted to make it look like "official" mail, i.e. stuff that I should probably pay attention to, and even the stuff that is coming from companies that I already do business with will often have "IMPORTANT ACCOUNT INFORMATION ENCLOSED" prominently on the front of the envelope when all that's inside is a pitch for some other thing that they're selling. So, yeah, a lot of it gets ignored.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:06 AM on April 13 [27 favorites]


They are also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

Massachusetts is fucked--I think they normally count the zillions of college students, which is not the case now.
posted by Melismata at 10:06 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]




Is there no long version this year?

They did away with the long version a census or two ago and just do the American Community Survey with an n of like 50,000 more frequently.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 10:15 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]


I've done mine, but the mailer I got had a scammy smell to me. I wasn't aware they were doing it online this year and was worried it was a by-mail phishing attack. I did a fair bit of googling to make sure it was legit before I put any info into the site. I'm sure a lot of people just thought it was a scam and tossed it.
posted by potrzebie at 10:18 AM on April 13 [13 favorites]


Is there no long version this year? I recall in the (pre-intarwebs) past, people randomly got a much longer form to fill out.

I too was surprised. I gathered the kids around to do it and was expecting to use it as an impromptu 'school' civics project. I honestly thought I'd just filled in the first section when it was suddenly done - and went online to the Bureau of the Census to make sure I wasn't missing anything. (and yes this post was originally going to be on the actual Census Day- but - you know -what are days anyway?) Best I understand it (happy to be corrected), the long form is now the American Community Survey Form I shared in the main post - which gets sent to approx 295,000 random households ever month by the Census Bureau. The ACS went live in 2005, replacing the once-a-decade census long form.

Part of the reason I linked the other country's survey forms in the main post is it is quite interesting going through what other countries go through in their long form - like if your house is damp . Some of the questions asked are also heartbreaking (but asked for real, legitimate reasons), like does everyone in the household own at least one pair of shoes.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:21 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]


Do most people just regularly throw away their mail, or ignore it for several weeks? I don't understand how "awareness of the census" is a widespread problem.

In my (working class) neighborhood, we don't have individual mail boxes. Instead, all the mail goes to a communal mailbox at the end of the street, to which each house has an individual mail key, rather like in an apartment complex. But the mailbox is about a ten minute walk from my house, and as public transit is a good mile and a half away from the house, most people come in and out via car. Picking up the mail is therefore generally something that is a dedicated activity, and in my house it's quite common for mail to be picked up no more than once a week unless someone is actively watching the mail for something.

Also, no one appears to have notified the post office that the people who used to live here before we moved in four years ago are gone, and we still routinely receive their mail as well as ours. And most of what we do get is junk.

So.... yeah. This is absolutely something that would happen in my house, which is located in a predominantly Black and Latine neighborhood. Now, as it happens, we've already received the census and filled out the questions, but I absolutely see how it could be lost in the shuffle.
posted by sciatrix at 10:25 AM on April 13 [8 favorites]


i will definitely fill out the census at some point and yet fuck them for their male/female and no other options sex question - way to erase people who identify as non-binary, transgender, and intersex completely
posted by kokaku at 10:30 AM on April 13 [6 favorites]


Also, even the white people have had 40 years of under- and misrepresentation by Congress, so the census is one of those things whose importance is increasingly difficult to communicate, in relation to how the United States was supposed to function, and your increasingly incorrect high school civics curriculum

I hope people are still tracking what we ve been losing
posted by eustatic at 10:38 AM on April 13


Massachusetts is fucked--I think they normally count the zillions of college students, which is not the case now.

The Census Bureau has communicated that college students who would have lived on campus still be counted on campus, and that college students who live off-campus still be counted at their off-campus addresses, even if they are now in a different location. (Source: I work for an applied demography group at UNC and sort of self-link we wrote this explainer for college towns.)
posted by melodykramer at 10:39 AM on April 13 [9 favorites]


Was signed up just pre-virus-awareness to be a census walker, actually sounded like fun, good paid walking fun (with lots of language struggles in between). Got the official message on 3/20:

The US Census has suspended operations due to the COVID -19 situation. The US Census will revaluate the situation in two weeks (around April 1). Thus, all training program have ben put on hold pending review.

You will be notified when and if training plans resume.

posted by sammyo at 10:40 AM on April 13 [3 favorites]


Also, thank you inflatablekiwi for posting this, and if anyone has any specific Census 2020 questions, I am happy to help. (And if you have specific NC-related questions, I can point you to resources for our state.)
posted by melodykramer at 10:41 AM on April 13 [3 favorites]


Massachusetts is fucked--I think they normally count the zillions of college students, which is not the case now.

As melodykramer says above, students are supposed to fill it out from where they would be on April 1. Whether students do this (or even fill out the form) remains to be seen, and whether the census numbers will be adjusted at some point is also in question. RI has a pretty big campus population in a small state, and a low census reading could be disastrous on a bunch of levels.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:49 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


The article on Hispanic identity is making me think a great deal about how I navigate being Ashkenazi in a world where "Jewish" isn't a racial category. I check the "white non-Hispanic" box because that's closest, but for the last decade or so I've gone back and forth between "I don't want to be labeled as Jewish because I want to blend in and not be discriminated against" and "I want there to be a 'Jewish' box I can check so I can be represented."

Since everything got more racist in 2016 I've been on the side of "I want to be represented and show other people like me that they're not alone," so when I'm filling out the disclosure forms on job applications I always feel bad checking the "white" box.
posted by dialMforMara at 10:54 AM on April 13 [10 favorites]


For those interested re: the Gender question (or lack thereof) there is a fairly long but comprehensive In-depth review of measuring gender identity given at the Conference of European Statisticians
from last year that surveys how different countries are treating gender identity in national Census collections (pages 17 and 18 provide the most accessible summary by country). Looks like a few countries already have a non-binary choice, while others are trailing it in various forms (for instance NZ in the household economic survey adding a "write-in" option to allow individuals to describe their gender)
posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:54 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]


The article on Hispanic identity is making me think a great deal about how I navigate being Ashkenazi in a world where "Jewish" isn't a racial category

I checked "white," but wrote "Ashkenazi" in the fill-in-the-blank part.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:57 AM on April 13 [7 favorites]


ignore it for several weeks

i already did my census online but yes, i have unread mail going back weeks. actually i have unopened mail going back to like 2016.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:07 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]


I did like the quote from the linked article, which put things well, in terms of public spending.

"Black people have been undercounted since we were counted as three-fifths of a person, 400 years ago,” says Jeri Green, who spent 20 years working as a senior adviser on civic engagement at the Census Bureau. “We have always been undercounted, in stark contrast to the white population that has always been overcounted.”

From the Make Black Count campaign: "Getting to a complete count this Census is critical for the Black community. For far too long our communities have been undercounted and left out of the allocation of federal dollars for roads, schools, and hospitals."
posted by eustatic at 11:12 AM on April 13 [3 favorites]


As a reminder, people in prisons are counted in the district where they are incarcerated, giving rise to "prison gerrymandering". Several states allocate state & local voting districts by last known home address, but the federal government does not.
posted by mosst at 11:20 AM on April 13 [12 favorites]


I absolutely want people to be able to represent their ethnic identity beyond the category of "race," but I also was a little uncomfortable with the form *requiring* further ethnic explanation. I can't help but think that for a lot of white folks, it reinforces the tendency to romanticize questionable family lore. For me personally, I'm third-generation Polish on one side and actually do have a lived-experience connection to that part of my heritage. But my spouse was pretty WTF about it this question; he has zero connection to the cultures of his long-ago forebears.
posted by desuetude at 11:26 AM on April 13 [9 favorites]


I just put "mutt" there.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:32 AM on April 13


I left the ethnic identity unanswered because WTF and I have no clue and don't care to do genealogy. I had no idea how to respond to that question....
posted by mightshould at 11:36 AM on April 13


adding a "write-in" option to allow individuals to describe their gender


This is free-form, go nuts.
posted by nickmark at 11:51 AM on April 13 [3 favorites]


But my spouse was pretty WTF about it this question; he has zero connection to the cultures of his long-ago forebears.
posted by desuetude


I think we ve seen this among dispossessed white folks for a couple of censuses, a pattern of white folks marking "American" for their ethnic identity, as capitalism eats into our culture, and people totally lose and are encouraged to lose any connection to any number of different European indigeneities and languages
posted by eustatic at 11:52 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


I also was a little uncomfortable with the form *requiring* further ethnic explanation

It doesn't strictly require it - it errors out if you leave it blank and tells you it's required, but if you hit submit again without entering anything, it'll accept it.
posted by nickmark at 11:52 AM on April 13 [6 favorites]




It was in the long form in 2000, presumably in the ACS for the 2010 Census.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 12:04 PM on April 13


Our way of doing the census is guaranteed to produce undercount and worse, bias. The appropriate way to do things would be to use a statistical model with sampling rather than an exact count. Our current approach sacrifices accuracy for illusory precision.

Of course, since this inaccuracy has political and economic implications favoring Republicans, they will fight tooth and nail any move to solve the problem. This is done with a guise of how important and "correct" the exact count method is, while simultaneously doing everything they can to intimidate immigrants out of self-reporting and ignoring the biases inherent in the system.
posted by splitpeasoup at 12:22 PM on April 13 [6 favorites]


... a pattern of white folks marking "American" for their ethnic identity, as capitalism eats into our culture, and people totally lose and are encouraged to lose any connection to any number of different European indigeneities and languages

Crap. Now that you say this, I'm miffed that I put 'American' and lost the opportunity to put something more meaningful, like 'Worker' or 'Proletariat'.
posted by eclectist at 12:23 PM on April 13 [7 favorites]


We also don't put 'octoroon' in the united states census anymore. These things seem to go in waves, as white supremacy waxes and wanes on the federal level

Where are we supposed to put "great great grandad was listed as "mulatto" in 1920 when he left the (black Reconstruction) family land for the mills in Indiana, with generations of lumberjack experience in the Mississippi Delta. but when all the trees were cut and the KKK got fierce he and great great grandma became 'Greek' by 1930 (no mulatto category anymore) in order to pass, But also so he could qualify for a job at the mills in Minnesota and raise a nice Catholic family. By now, we're all white, and don't understand why we don t feel any connection to the traditions of old Calabria. But, when you're at the Olive Garden, you're family, right?"
posted by eustatic at 12:26 PM on April 13 [5 favorites]


I did mine online, but I still got a paper copy last week, so I'm a bit puzzled.
posted by tavella at 12:34 PM on April 13


I’m supposed to be enumerating people in homeless shelters, convents, nursing homes, etc. right now, but they keep pushing the dates for that back.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:40 PM on April 13 [4 favorites]


Huh, the Salvation Army is listed as an example for “other” religion in Australia. In the US, the Salvation Army won’t let Census workers into their soup kitchens to enumerate clients. They get a whole section in the manual about that.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:51 PM on April 13 [4 favorites]


Re: miscounting, could someone who knows more about it explain how we know that undercounting and overcounting have happened, and by how much? If it's on the basis of statistical modeling, how do you assess the accuracy of the numbers that modeling is based on?

(I saw one study that based a model on a previous census, but while a mismatch between the current census and the model would point to problems, how would you know that the problem lay in the current census versus the previous one?)
posted by trig at 12:57 PM on April 13 [4 favorites]


I did mine online, but I still got a paper copy last week, so I'm a bit puzzled

Most households received their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12 – 20......During this time, homes in areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form).
posted by inflatablekiwi at 1:06 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


Okay, I found this explanation:
The first measurements of census accuracy, called Demographic Analysis, compared independent estimates of the population with the enumeration results. The independent figures, which the Census Bureau still compiles, are built primarily using birth, death, and immigration records, as well as emigration and undocumented immigration estimates and Medicare data. Later, the Bureau developed a second check on accuracy called a post-enumeration survey, or PES. This statistically representative, independent survey is conducted after major census operations are finished; the results are then matched, household by household, with the original census results, to determine how many people were missed, counted twice, or counted in the wrong place. Those findings are then applied to demographically similar census blocks across the country to derive broader estimates
Has there been any effort to redefine the "Enumeration" required by the constitution as the result of analysis performed on the census and other sources like the PES? (Or is that already happening? I'm realizing how ignorant I am about this.)
posted by trig at 1:06 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


The appropriate way to do things would be to use a statistical model with sampling rather than an exact count.

I’m aware of surveys with carefully planned sampling structures… where the sampling structures are based on Census data. Like, that’s how we know how to sample and weight people in different demographic groups to make the survey representative of the US.

I’m not an expert in survey design. If the Census sampling structure were developed using a model, what would a model be based on? Previous Census data? Wouldn’t that introduce bias, if demographics have changed in ten years?
posted by snowmentality at 1:09 PM on April 13 [6 favorites]


Do most people just regularly throw away their mail, or ignore it for several weeks? I don't understand how "awareness of the census" is a widespread problem.

Honestly, I think the Census needs to rethink their approach.

The mailers look so much like junk mail, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of them got tossed.

"You MUST reply" and "Response REQUIRED" printed in that "fake stamp" type of lettering.

I know they are kind of screwed because bulk mail has pretty much ruined the post, but surely some genius could come up with a better way.
Maybe trademark "U.S. Government Blue" envelopes and sue any junk mailer that uses them.
posted by madajb at 1:21 PM on April 13 [16 favorites]


quite a lot of the junk mail is formatted to make it look like "official" mail

This is a good point. I guess I was just prepared to see it from hearing about Trump administration attempts to make the census worse weeks in advance.
posted by Foosnark at 1:35 PM on April 13


Is there no long version this year? I recall in the (pre-intarwebs) past, people randomly got a much longer form to fill out.

We got the "American Community Survey" which we started to fill out but abandoned when it became too intrusive.

I have no problem updating how many people live here, but I'm not going to spend 40 minutes under threat of prosecution telling the government how many bathrooms I have or the address of where I worked last week.
posted by madajb at 1:42 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


Do most people just regularly throw away their mail, or ignore it for several weeks? I don't understand how "awareness of the census" is a widespread problem.

My mail piles up on my dining room table for weeks. Sometimes I try to set something to the side that I need to deal with, like the Census or my automobile registration reminder. Those items too are soon lost under the avalanche of incoming mail and also all the other miscellaneous bullshit that I bring home and fling onto the table.

I remembered about the Census (thanks to several helpful people posting about it on Facebook) the night before it was due, and requested my husband to do it online. My auto registration did not get remembered (since no helpful person posted about it on Facebook) and so I had to run out and do it last week, several days overdue.

This is the reason most of my bills are on auto-pay, so I don't wind up sitting in a cold dark apartment with no internet and my bill collectors going straight to voicemail on my shut-off phone.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:05 PM on April 13 [5 favorites]


I have no problem updating how many people live here, but I'm not going to spend 40 minutes under threat of prosecution telling the government how many bathrooms I have or the address of where I worked last week.

Both of which are already known to different levels/branches of the government. By doing the ACS and answering those questions, you would have just made it possible for analysts and researchers to identify (and target assistance to) people living in inadequate housing, and plan transportation infrastructure (and economic development), respectively.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 2:26 PM on April 13 [9 favorites]


but I'm not going to spend 40 minutes under threat of prosecution telling the government how many bathrooms

Because when it comes to government overreach it's a step too far to know I have 2 toilets
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 2:49 PM on April 13 [6 favorites]


sciatrix: Do most people just regularly throw away their mail, or ignore it for several weeks? I don't understand how "awareness of the census" is a widespread problem.

If people paid attention to the Census, or understood its value, they wouldn't need TV, radio and internet advertising.


Huffy Puffy: I don’t think they asked white or black people what their national/ethnic origin was last time.

Here are a pair of 2018 NPR pieces about asking white people and black people about their exact origins, but there were no official responses as to why that information was requested. Here's an official description of why:
Information on race is required for many Federal programs and is critical in making policy decisions, particularly for civil rights. States use these data to meet legislative redistricting principles. Race data also are used to promote equal employment opportunities and to assess racial disparities in health and environmental risks.
But that's still pretty general. Yes, knowing if White Egyptians receive less services than White Germans is good information, if that level of detail is sought and provided. There was an article or interview, and I thought it was from NPR, which noted some more specific examples of how this level of information was more helpful.

And to stress the importance of the Census:
The census informs almost every aspect of our daily lives. For starters, census numbers are used for funding social services. We're talking about things like schools, healthcare, and roads. There are problems that arise when a community goes undercounted. For example, when Congress and the states are deciding whether to give money to a community, they could say, “Oh, we don't need to build another school there,” because the schoolchildren in that community are undercounted. It’s the same with infrastructure. They might think, “Well, maybe we don't need to replace the bridge there.” But they would be underestimating how many people use that bridge every day.
A few notes from a transportation planner: first, I don't think bridge volumes are determined by census data as much as it is by traffic counts on roads. But second, this almost undersells how vital this information is for funding allocation, and many other uses. Here's a Census.gov's narrative overview, noting it's value for private companies, both big and small, as well as emergency response planning.

splitpeasoup: Our way of doing the census is guaranteed to produce undercount and worse, bias. The appropriate way to do things would be to use a statistical model with sampling rather than an exact count. Our current approach sacrifices accuracy for illusory precision.

Also, the decennial census is treated as the BEST data for population information, when looking for this limited, broad information. The "rolling" American Community Surveys are great, because they collect a lot more information, but the yearly samples are so small that the better data is generally considered to be the multi-year data sets. This is "rolling" because it's an ongoing data collection effort every year, instead of a one-and-done big push like the decennial census.

We know that the census under-counts certain populations, particularly transient, rural, migrant, and other groups, but I don't know of any better source for information of those at-risk population sizes nation-wide. Some states, cities and communities may have better local outreach and tallying efforts, like Boston's annual homeless census, but those are localized efforts.

Modeling is valuable, but dangerous if treated as truth without significant 3rd party review and validation, which requires a data source as truth. One example of trying to do the right thing resulting in the wrong outcome: Racial bias in a medical algorithm favors white patients over sicker black patients
The algorithm wasn’t intentionally racist — in fact, it specifically excluded race. Instead, to identify patients who would benefit from more medical support, the algorithm used a seemingly race-blind metric: how much patients would cost the health-care system in the future. But cost isn’t a race-neutral measure of health-care need. Black patients incurred about $1,800 less in medical costs per year than white patients with the same number of chronic conditions; thus the algorithm scored white patients as equally at risk of future health problems as black patients who had many more diseases.
Maybe not a perfect analogy, but an example of an unconsidered, overlooked, or ignored variable being critical in modeling the complicated reality of people. Models are built by people, based on their understanding of the world, which will include some sort of bias about how other people live and behave, because modelers are not omnipotent and operate from their own view of normal or expected behavior.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:52 PM on April 13 [4 favorites]


I was so happy to fill out that form, and so sad I could do it in a few seconds. I mean, this stuff is important and yet the buzz was so brief. But so satisfying.

I would love to tell the American Community Survey all about me and my toilets. Unlike my feels for Google and Facebook, who know too much about me.
posted by zenzenobia at 3:02 PM on April 13 [8 favorites]


I think the Census folk were running a bit ragged -- I got the census info, a separate reminder letter, and a postcard telling me I had a legal obligation to fill out the census and had failed to do so in a timely manner, all in a couple's of days worth of mail.

I do wonder if they're just not going to do the "send people around to knock on doors" thing this year, which would make sense but would also result in fairly massive under reporting.
posted by Blackanvil at 3:44 PM on April 13


> I do wonder if they're just not going to do the "send people around to knock on doors" thing this year,

I'm only one step up from the bottomest rung, but the latest I've heard is that they haven't made a decision yet.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:56 PM on April 13


I think we ve seen this among dispossessed white folks for a couple of censuses, a pattern of white folks marking "American" for their ethnic identity, as capitalism eats into our culture, and people totally lose and are encouraged to lose any connection to any number of different European indigeneities and languages

I dunno; my ancestors mostly came from England, but they also mostly came to America before 1700. I expect that the majority of people who just say "American" in response to ethnic-identity questions are people with a similar background who may not have any idea where in Europe their ancestors came from, or when.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 6:36 PM on April 13 [4 favorites]


I checked "white," but wrote "Ashkenazi" in the fill-in-the-blank part.


I put "Eastern European "....idk the full backgrounds of my 2 US born grandparents. The censuses say Russia but that's not accurate.
posted by brujita at 6:54 PM on April 13


"Lowland traveller."
posted by aspersioncast at 6:24 AM on April 14


> It doesn't strictly require it - it errors out if you leave it blank and tells you it's required, but if you hit submit again without entering anything, it'll accept it.

As far as I'm concerned, that's a software bug, not a lack of requirement. It's ridiculous to require someone to figure out a workaround on a 5-minute survey to circumvent a field being required to proceed.
posted by desuetude at 7:10 AM on April 14


Mail, aside from things I'm expecting, comes in 2 flavors, bills and junk mail. So yes I ignore anything I wasn't expecting and when it becomes a large enough pile, I shred it. Also, did the census online. My roommates are happy, they've magically becomes younger because I couldn't remember their birth years.
posted by evilDoug at 7:51 AM on April 14


I dunno; my ancestors mostly came from England, but they also mostly came to America before 1700.

Yes, in my direct line, the most recent immigrants were around 1850. That's nearly 200 years ago! Many branches in my family tree date back to before the US was a country. There are no distant cousins or grandmas in the old country that we're in touch with in my family.

I'm not Scottish. I'm not Irish. I don't identify with those nationalities and I have no connection to them. I put American on the census because 1) I was suspicious of the motivations of Trump's govt for asking the question, and 2) because it was also the most honest answer I could think of. Saying "Irish" would just be strange appropriation of a culture that my ancestors left behind a long time ago.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 9:31 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]


I didn't love the gender question, but at least it let us leave that blank for me. What I really didn't like, though, was that we had to choose whether we were a same-sex or opposite-sex couple. (Or choose no relationship at all.) Why wasn't just couple an option? (And what, precisely, is nonbinary opposite and the same as, gender-wise?)
posted by Margalo Epps at 5:51 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


The ethnicity one threw me for a bit of a loop as well. The last immigrants in my family arrived in the century before last century, and I have bits of all sorts of Northern European. I finally went with English as that was the most recent and probably the most overall. But I hardly think of myself as Anglo-American.
posted by tavella at 8:23 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna project a little and say that every person of Middle Eastern descent winced filling out that "where are you really from" white person question.
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:35 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


I think it's not compromising anyone's PII to say that in 2010, there definitely were people who checked both white and other: X- American in the census.

My guess is that it was at least part of the motivation to split the ethnicity question, since some people were answering it anyway.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:26 PM on April 14


For those who are curious: it looks like all the various segments of the 2020 Census have been delayed or extended, but none have been canceled yet.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:42 PM on April 15


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