Census Count

Census Count

Census, a count of population, output, processes. It has long yielded more than accurate estimates of numbers. The censuses of ancient states such as Rome and Persia were used to determine, inter alia, the taxable capacity and military potential of the state: twentieth-century censuses are concerned with a wider range of social and economic matters.

The modern census dates back to the seventeenth century; the first British census was in 1801. U.K. population censuses have been taken, with occasional breaks, every ten years since that date. Censuses of production and of distribution have also been introduced in the U.K., the U.S.A. and other countries in recent years. They obtain information on the number of enterprises of particular kinds and deal with questions of equipment and output.

In the British census of population information is obtained by enumerators who visit all houses and institutions in areas assigned to them, distribute and later collect questionnaire forms, and check on the accuracy and completeness of the answers. The scope of census questions has been reduced since the nineteenth century; the most important information now obtained is of total population (which cannot be so accurately determined from the data on births, deaths and migration) and of its distribution by age, sex, marital status, occupation, employment, education and place of residence, and also of some aspects of living conditions.

The results are valuable because they make it possible to analyse the population not merely into groups according to age, employment and so on, but into subgroups such as total married female clerical workers within age group and area. Sub-grouping is possible because information under many heads had been collected simultaneously for each individual. Census information is used in policy-making by national and local government .

Other censuses of economic interest are those of production (at intervals since 2007) and distribution (number, size, turnover, etc., of shops and retail outlets for hairdressing and other services); the first was in 2000. II

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