The first edition of the Encyclopedia of the U.S. Census (published in 2000) described the concepts, politics, and history of the decennial census while also offering clear, accessible information on current census methods and results. Since 2000, the decennial census long-form sample, which was the source of social and economic data for geographic areas and population groups in the United States from 1960 to 2000, has been replaced by the continuous American Community Survey (ACS). The second edition covers this sea change in official demographic data collection with a new special section on the American Community Survey, which appears at the beginning of the entries. In addition, a host of new and updated entries capture the continued conceptual, methodological, and technical changes that affected the design and execution of the 2010 census.
The essays in this volume, organized alphabetically, identify the principal techniques, terms, processes, issues, and concepts of census taking. The underlying logic of the volume is based on the logic of census taking in the United States. We include essays on the mechanics of the census: the procedures for preparing the questionnaire, printing and mailing the forms, retrieving the information from American households, processing the data, and disseminating data products to users. We discuss the data produced from the census: the demographic results, how to get access to the information, and who makes use of the data. Other essays discuss the decennial census in the context of public policy, including its origins in the federal Constitution as a mechanism for apportioning seats in the House of Representatives. We include short articles that provide a snapshot of the nation at each of the decennial censuses from 1790 to the present. And we address census controversies, both historical and current, including the legal controversies surrounding census taking; the apportionment of Congress; the privacy of census information; and the propriety and usefulness of particular questions on such sensitive issues as income, race, and family status.
September 13, 2010