Falsifying Census information, any checks and balances?

I keep hearing about the push to fill out the census so that _______ groups of people (ethnic or by area) can be accounted for ______ benefits and counting.

Are there any checks and balances in place to prevent an entire neighborhood from making up names on their census forms to boost the # of people in their local area or their ethnic group?

Sure the census has a basic idea of how many people should be at an address. Note it says that cenus information can’t be used by other governmental agencies. But it doesn’t say the census can’t use governmental information form other agencies.

IDK the actual answer. But as a WAG I suspect the large number of people who are paranoid or have other reasons for ignoring the census and therefore don’t fill it out, far outnumbers the group of people who would try to hack or scam the census forms for some nefarious purpose…

Not now that ACORN is defunct :stuck_out_tongue:

As a census employee, I can state that it is repeatedly hammered into us that the census DOES NOT use information from other governmental agencies. Lord knows if it did our jobs might be a bit easier.

We do use Google Earth and the like to check our maps, as the satellite photos are sometimes more up to date than our maps.

But no, definitely no, the census does NOT use information from any other government agency.

There are census workers involved in gathering the information, it’s not all automated. If a census worker sees something odd said worker can flag stuff for a doublecheck. Field workers work in their own neighborhoods and can spot gross exaggerations. Claiming more than a certain number of people in a home will trigger a visit from a human being to doublecheck the info. Certain other things will trigger a visit from a warm body for fact checking.

Do errors creep into the count? Of course they do - there is no neat and pretty way to count 300+ million people. There are undoubtedly some overcounts. There are unquestionably some undercounts. THere is an extension quality control process which I can’t discuss in detail because I don’t work in that area and simply don’t know the details. Effort is made to make it as accurate as possible given the constraints under which census employees work.

Where does it say this?


“By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with anyone, including the IRS, FBI, CIA or any other government agency. All Census Bureau employees take the oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both.”

India kicks off their country-wide census for 2011 this week. Just by sheer numbers of people, their process is overwhelming compared to the US Census. However, the Indian Census will photograph and fingerprint every resident counted in their census.

I don’t think “information” and “respondents’ answers” are interchangeable.

Census data is used for legislative redistricting, which means that other government agencies are using census information, which one would think would necessarily come from the Census Bureau.

The only information that is not shared is the respondents name and actual birth date. All other information is shared and eagerly awaited. Everyone from universities to Wal Mart get the census information freely from the Census Bureau. The CB is part of the Dept of Commerce and providing this info is a service.

When you see or read an article in the news that says 4 out of 5 household something, something, this info can usually be sourced back to the census. The article in the following link from earlier this year about a study by the Pew Research Center is a good example. It tries to show a treand of men marrying women for economic reasons. If you look at the graphs the source is shown to be the decennial census and the American Community Survey (the new long form).

It is not correct to say that the information gathered by the census is protected, only the names and birthdates of the respondents. The rest of the info goes out to whomever wants it.

Well, of course census informatin is used in aggregate, such as population statistics. That is the whole point. What is meant is that no other govenment agencies can see an individual person’s repsonses.

Ya, I wish 'em good luck with that.

Back a very long time ago, I worked for the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics – now the Australian Bureau of Statistics – not with the census, but in relation to other statistical data. They had a similar obligation never to reveal information about individual respondents, and only to publish aggregated data. It probably comes into play with population and household statistics like the census, if you publish data for too small an area, but it becomes trickier when you’re publishing business statistics to avoid revealing data about a single business.

So I suspect that the US Census Bureau has similar rules about revealing data for a very small area, because people might deduce information about individuals. For example, if there was just one household with Hispanic people in a small county in North Dakota, you might want not to publish the age groups of the Hispanic population of that county, because it might be possible to connect the one person in the 61-70 year age group to a particular individual.

Not quite true. The Census does use information from the Defense and State Departments to reliably count military and foreign service personnel and their families stationed overseas. There is also some cooperation from the postal service to determine which areas should be served by the update leave operation (the operation that counts people in rural areas). Otherwise, there is no cooperation.

When I was 22 and single I got my census form. When I filled it out, just putting one person living alone looked so sad and pitiful, although it was true. So I added my cat. I put her name and age and everything.

I hope I didn’t mess up their counting by much.

Perhaps your cat will get called to jury duty.