Why Census Takers Ask Those Nosy Questions and Why Your Answers Matter

Most people are aware that our Constitution calls for a census every 10 years. The purpose of the census is not only to count all the people living in this country, whether citizens or not, but to find out important information about the people who populate this country as well.

Yes, I have heard all the conspiracy theories about why our government is asking so many nosy questions. I will not go into all the many fears that people have expressed to me over the years about why they believe our government is asking so many questions because that would not be an article, but a novel, all by itself. From my background in psychology, I can only say that there are a lot of people in this country who seem to be paranoid for no reason. If they understood how our government works, they would see how unreasonable and unwarranted their fears are.


Local, State, and Federal Services Are Based On the Census

Our government provides many services and public assistance programs to everyone who lives here. Yes, even the wealthy benefit from some of them -- bet that never crossed most people’s minds. Wealthy people and poor people and everyone in between depend on our highway system. People from all socioeconomic levels are affected by the public assistance and government programs available, whether or not they actually take personal advantage of them.

Plans and decisions on everything are based on the Census. Where to build a water treatment plant, where to build an electricity sub-station, and how big each one of these plants should be. Is more low-income housing needed, and if so, where should it be built? How many new streets and highways are needed and where? Is the current public transportation system adequately serving the community? How soon will it be necessary to expand the community education system to accommodate the many young children in the community? Where should new schools be built?

The answers to all of these questions are dependent on the Census to help get the answers. How people answer all those nosy questions will help city planners and officials determine what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and where it needs to be done. The Census will help determine how much money must be raised and how soon must it be raised in order to serve all of these different needs in the community.

Private Industry Expansion Plans and Business Decisions Are Often Based On the Census too

Results of the Census are used by the states and your local community even more than by the federal government. Census results are available to private industry as well. Whether you get a new industrial park that will create thousands of jobs is often dependent on census results.

The decision about whether to build another Papa John’s Pizza restaurant in your neighborhood is often decided according to Census statistics stating how many people are in your immediate neighborhood and what socioeconomic group they belong to.

Census results tell private and public employers alike where the population is and what the educational level of that population is, and many other details that help them determine where to make their investments.

The Federal Government uses the Census to help determine federal subsidies for a multitude of services people from all socioeconomic groups need – clean air, clean water, transportation, healthcare, education, and assistance for low-income people. These are just a few things most people do not stop and think about when they think of services provided by their communities that are planned and carried out as a result of Census results.

Decisions about if and where to build a senior citizen’s Center, a daycare center, a hospital, some fast food restaurants, or a mall, are often made based on Census results.

The answers you give to those nosy questions Census takers ask will almost certainly determine whether your child attends an overcrowded school or a modern spacious school, whether you can find a better paying job or if you will get stuck in a low-pay dead end job, and whether or not an airport expansion or industrial complex will grow up in your back yard. Census results affect a lot of things in our environment and in our lives. That is why it is so important to answer Census taker’s questions and to answer them honestly.

Your Answers to Those Nosy Question Have Long Reaching Consequences

Another big issue that Census results determine is whether or not YOU get representation at both your state and federal levels of government. If you lie to Census takers about how many people live in your household, those other members will not be counted when it is time to determine if there are enough representatives in your state to take into consideration everyone’s needs.

If everyone lies by failing to report to the census taker that 2 or 3 or 5 people are living in their household, that can add up pretty quickly. If officials are not aware of all these people, no representation will be provided for them.

The year after the census is taken and the results of all the counting and all the answers to the nosy questions have been processed, a determination is made in every state as to whether or not there is sufficient representation for all citizens living there. Should there be more representatives, or fewer? Or is it satisfactory as is?

After the 2010 census was taken several states actually lost representatives while a few other states got additional representatives. I took my statistics from Gallup.

States That Lost Seats In the House of Representatives

New York -- lost 2 seats

Ohio -- lost 2 seats

Pennsylvania – lost 1 seat

Louisiana -- 1

Michigan -- 1

New Jersey -- 1

Missouri -- 1

Iowa -- 1

Illinois -- 1

Massachusetts – 1

States That Gained Seats In the House of Representatives

Texas – 4

Florida – 2

Utah – 1

Georgia – 1

Nevada – 1

Arizona – 1

Washington – 1

North Carolina – 1

According to Gallup, both the seats lost and the seats gained in the reapportionment will have the most negative effect on the Democratic Party.

Informing People About the Importance Of the Census

This hub is not for the purpose of debating political issues, but with the intent of educating people who may not understand the purpose of the Census and why it is so important that everyone participate in it.

Participating in the Census by being counted and answering the nosy questions is your best opportunity to have your political voice heard at every level of government, and it is your best chance of having services that you need made available to you.

The following video explains why it is important for all people to be counted in the Census. This video is directing information to the Hispanic community, including Mexicans who are here illegally.

However, this same information applies to everyone, because not only representation at the local, county, school district, state and federal government levels are at stake, but also Federal tax dollars are distributed to states, counties, cities, and small towns according the Census statistics. Not being counted can mean your community, or you and/or your family, are missing out on your share.

© 2012 C E Clark

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Comments 46 comments

Au fait profile image

Au fait 8 weeks ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron. I appreciate your kind comment. Lots of people's eyes glaze over when it comes to anything to do with the government. Sad, because these are things that affect their lives every day, but they prefer to worry about the design of the latest tattoo.

Hope you've had a good Christmas and that all is well with you both. Take care, dear friend . . .

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 months ago

Au fait, no matter how many times I read this, it is still interesting.

I hope all is well with you.

Blessings and hugs my dear friend.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 17 months ago from North Texas Author

DzyMzLizzy, thank you for coming by and adding some very useful information to my article! I have known it for quite a while, but it never crossed my mind to include it. Glad you brought it to everyone's attention.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 17 months ago from North Texas Author

RTalloni, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on this issue. It's true that there will always be liars. However most people answer the census takers honestly and the 1% or less who do lie aren't a large enough pool to sway the stats appreciably. A bigger issue are those people who manage to avoid being counted.

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 17 months ago from Oakley, CA

And--the older census records--released for public use 72 years after they have been recorded--are very useful for people researching their family history. ;-)

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 17 months ago from the short journey

An interesting read. Many practical uses the census could be used for are well presented here, but to be certain that the questions are answered honestly is fairly iffy at best. Some people lie to cover up actions, some for amusement. Some because they want to turn the tide of opinion, some because they are just plain contrary. The reasons people lie are as varied as the kinds of people who will lie. And that's just the populace. That governments lie, well… That said, I agree, there is probably not much use in trying to plug up the dam. It has sprung a big leak! As I looked at the stats chart I wondered whether the losses and gains could be accounted for at least in part by the fact that people are having fewer children and that baby boomers are moving from northern states to southern states.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Chuck, thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

I agree with much of what you write, however, if you read my article "Who Is Watching Us? Not Just Big Brother Anymore, " etc., you will see that our government (and possibly governments elsewhere in the world) already have far more info on each of us than any Census report would give them.

I think there isn't a lot we can do regarding the gov. snooping on us, but there are things we can do to keep everybody else from doing it. I've let people know how to go about protecting themselves, but so far as I can tell, very few people are really interested enough in safeguarding their personal info to even read further about things they can do to protect their privacy.

The government already knows so much about our income, income sources, and how much our house payment or rent is, and so much more, what difference if it knows how many bathrooms we have or what our china design is?

If you buy a new car in 2014 or later, our government will be following you everywhere you go and documenting it. That's in my Surveillance article too. Agree that our gov. goes too far in collecting info on us, but trying to find the hole in the dike so we can plug it is impossible I think.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W for sharing/pinning this article!

Chuck profile image

Chuck 2 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

This is a very interesting and informative Hub.

However, while I am not paranoid, I must disagree with you on the necessity and usefulness of the expanding list of nosy questions the Census Bureau asks people, especially those tagged (and I was tagged in the last Census) for additional information beyond what is asked on the standard form.

The founding fathers' original intent, as stated in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, simply required that the census be taken every ten years to determine the apportionment of seats in Congress among the states. The section does leave the actual mechanics of the census to be determined by Congress so one cannot object, on Constitutional grounds, to Congress turning the Census into a huge marketing survey to assist politicians and bureaucrats in their efforts to expand government.

Not only does this expansion of the census increase the cost of collecting census data (according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office the total cost of the recent 2010 Census will run as high as $14.5 billion) the data collected then becomes the basis for justifying spending for all kinds of social welfare and other special interest projects that progressive politicians push in order to expand government

Spending by the Federal government is at an all-time high and is a major drag on the economy. The fiscal condition of many state and local governments is as bad or worse with Detroit and other cities already in bankruptcy.

Finally, one does not have to paranoid in order to be concerned about privacy and government use of the personal data it collects.

In a March 7, 2014 piece in the Wall Street Journal by Holman W. Jenkins Jr., Mr. Jenkins pointed out that, in addition to Census data the Federal government collects personal data through numerous other sources such as income tax filings, Medicare information and Welfare applications.

He goes on to point out that the government is not above using this data for political purposes such as the recent IRS use of tax application data to target and attempt to silence Tea Party activists. This is not a first as he also reminds us that both Presidents Kennedy and Nixon used IRS data to try to silence political opponents.

As for flagrant misuse of Census data, Jenkins cites the case of Congress, following the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, repealing of the law providing confidentiality of Census information so that the Roosevelt Administration could use that data to track down and place Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II.

Information is control and governments can and do use information, for both good and evil, to control people. Thus, in the interests of freedom, citizens should question and limit the personal information they allow big government to collect.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

Sharing this informative hub once again and pinning to the Awesome Hubpages board. Already on the Do You Know This? board. Hope it brings in more readers for you.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Indian Chef for commenting on this article and for the votes and share! Yes indeed, both government and businesses like to know as much as possible about 'things' before they make decisions to spend money.

Indian Chef profile image

Indian Chef 3 years ago from New Delhi India

Au fait, very informative hub. Never did know that the nosy questions have so far reaching effects. Voting up, interesting and sharing on hub pages.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Deborah-Diane, for stopping by and sharing this article! People can learn here also, why big factories and new schools are built in their neighborhoods -- or not. Also, why their state may or may not be the recipient of more or fewer federal funds . . . and much more.

Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

Thanks for writing this informative article. This is helpful information so people understand why they have the number of Representatives and, consequently, the number of electors that they have in a Presidential election. One more article that is worth sharing with my followers!

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for reading and commenting Shyron. The stats from the Census make a huge difference everywhere and most people are not aware. They can also shed light on the behavior of people within a community and all across this country, as the stats on traditional marriage did in my article on that subject explained. There are stats on a variety of other issues too, not just on marriage, that come from the Census.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Deborah-Diane for reading, commenting, voting on, and sharing this article!

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

Au fait this is a very informative hub and I needed to re-read. The census if very important, I did not realize until I read this hub how important.

Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

So many people are confused about the importance of the Census. However, it can make a big difference in politics, in money for your local community and in other ways. I am so glad you have explained it. Great info. Voted UP and sharing it.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

moonlake, thank you for pinning this hub!

moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

I'm going to add this to my genealogy board on Pinterest. Thanks for sharing.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W for pinning this hub!

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

This will be another great hub to post to my Do you know this? board on Pinterest. By the way, I tried to click on your Pinterest account on your profile and I get a 404 message...so at least at the moment it does not seem to work. You might want to check it.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Deborah-Diane for commenting on this hub and for your great compliments.

Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

This is a wonderful explanation of why it is important that we do a thorough census every 10 years. Great job. Thumbs up!

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Shyron, thank you for adding some valuable information to this hub. It's true that people searching their family history can often find important information in the census records.

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago

I love the census, can't be beat for locating ancestors.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you rajan jolly for reading, commenting, voting, and sharing this hub! Thank you for your high compliment too. I'm glad if you found this information useful. Lots of people are not aware of what a big roll the census makes in all of our lives, I think.

rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Awesome information .I'd no idea about these important and varied use to which the census info is put to use. Thanks for sharing.

Voted up. useful, interesting and shared.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

petenali, so glad my hub inspired you to think -- of John Denver . . .

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you tillsontitan for reading and commenting on my hub! Yes, those nosy questions census takers ask have many uses and purposes.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you carter06, for reading and commenting on this hub! Glad you found it interesting, etc. So many people here in the states are offended that the government asks so many question and some people imagine all manner of wild ideas as to why those questions are asked and what is done with the info gathered. I just hoped to enlighten some of them about what it is really used for.

Lots of people dislike politically correct speech, but I find more than anything it helps keep discussions useful rather than having them degenerate into personal attacks. Politically correct speech has been a major part of our discourse for at least 30 years, but from what I'm hearing from friends and reading on various venues, it seems to be just getting underway in places like Britain and Australia, etc.

Thanks again for taking time . . .

petenali profile image

petenali 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I"m already humming, "You fill out my census..." to the tune of John Denver's "Annie's Song"...

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

While I knew the importance of the Census and about our representatives, I never realized how far it drilled down...to private industry and such. This was a great, informative hub Aufait and I'm sure people will benefit from it! Wise choice!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

carter06 profile image

carter06 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

Au fait - I dropped by to say again that I really appreciated your opinion and insightful comments on my hub about our Aussie PM & her excellent speech condeming misoginy in our Parliament. Going back over your comment it really made me think that we here in Oz could certainly do with a good deal of political correctness in our offices of parliament. It might stop the continual verbal sledging that they get away with... Oh and btw thanks for this informative & well written hub...we as a family have participated in our census for the past eight years & even though time consuming really feel it's so worth the time we give it...great job here my friend...VUIA & shared...

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron. I'm glad this hub is comprehensive enough to meet your needs.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you R2-D2-2 for stopping by! Glad you were able to get some benefit.

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago

I am back again to reread this awesome hub. I have a list of my favorites and when I need to read something about each one I go to my list to re-read that particular hub.

R2-D2-2 profile image

R2-D2-2 4 years ago from USA

Funny, but I knew a lot of things are based on the census, but I never put 2 + 2 together with the "nosy" questions. Good information.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Nicole S for stopping by. Glad if you learned something new. Have a great day!

Nicole S profile image

Nicole S 4 years ago from Minnesota

Very interesting hub! I wasn't aware of this.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W for reading, commenting, and sharing. There are a lot of important facts about the census and how it affects each one of us.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Very good article informing people WHY answering census questions accurately and truthfully is important. Voted up, useful, interesting and will share.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron, for reading and commenting on my hub, and for the 'awesome' vote. I was hoping this hub would be informative.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

JThomp42: Thank you for reading and commenting on my hub, and for voting me up!

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago

voting up and awesome, important information for all Americans. Also the census is the place to go for genealogist.

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JThomp42 4 years ago

Very informative. Voted up.

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