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Published by Gonzalo Mena
censo en uk
censo en uk

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Published by: Gonzalo Mena on Aug 07, 2013
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december2010
173
UK census 2011 – the last?
In Britain, Francis Maude has described the 2011 census as “wasteul”. He is the Cabinet minister in charge o it. Forthe uture he is examining using databases rom credit check agencies, Royal Mail and councils instead o a census.Save our census, says
 Jack Miles
– but oers an alternative to its present orm.
“Invasive”. “Intrusive”. “Unsuitable”. Those aresome o the words members o the current gov-ernment have used to describe the orthcoming2011 census. Francis Maude declared that 2011may be the last time the census is carried out –and he is the man charged with carrying it out.He believes that the cost o it – estimated at£482 million – is unjustied. But he has alsoattacked it as inaccurate and slow – “out o datealmost beore it has been done”. For the uture,“there are, I believe, ways o doing this whichwill provide better, quicker inormation, morerequently and cheaper”, he has said.Last time around, in 2001, nearly 400 000people lled in the box or “religious aliation”with the word “Jedi”. About 1.5 million house-holds ailed to ll in their orms at all 
.
To them,and even to the more normal respondent whois not a an o 
Star Wars
, the end o the censuswould be relatively meaningless. However, tothe householder whose day job is quantitativeresearcher, or market researcher, or statistician(and who doubtless lls in his or her orm prop-erly) – or indeed to anyone who uses demographicdata – the end o the census could be seen asa monumental event. Perhaps it is up to us tosave it. I can already hear non-researchers (and aew Cabinet Oce ministers) asking “why?” and“how?” Let us start with the why.
Functionality
When any statistician or researcher receivesa demand or a sample to be representative o demographic proportions, where does he or shego? Most immediately view the data o the lastcensus to nd out the demographic proportionsrequired to meet the sampling criteria. Further,census data provides an instant and accessibleoverview o the UK population at the click o aew buttons, giving demographic and economicinsights along the way, something ew research-ers would want to sacrice.
The saviour – Census 2.0?
As researchers, we should obviously want to pre-serve the lie o the census. Which makes it onlyair that we should suggest ways o making thispossible. The modern census has, methodological-ly speaking, progressed somewhat since its incep-tion in 1801. It has advanced rom headcounts topostal questionnaires. Nevertheless, it is possibleto argue that we are still applying 20th- or even19th-century methods to a 21st-century problem.The internet has made barely a dent on censustechniques. The questionnaires are still printedon paper, delivered by post, lled in by hand, andreturned again by post. And there are some 23million o those questionnaires, since that is thenumber o UK households. Other industries havebeen moving as ast and as ar as they can toshit as much o their workload as possible to theinternet – especially the parts that use paperwork(in huge quantities), and sta, and cost money.Given the urore about its cost, surely it is nowtime to consider using the modern, cost-ecientdata collection abilities o the internet, thusspawning Census 2.0.The Oce or National Statistics (ONS) tellsus that 70% o UK households now have accessto the internet. This means that potentially 70%o households can be reached at a vastly reducedcost. This huge saving comes rom cutting theexpense o producing the paper questionnaires,delivering the document to every householdthen back to the census oce, and enteringthe paper-based data into computers. There is areduced spend in all o these labour- and time-consuming processes. Why not use the internetinstead? Critics will argue that online data col-lection will not capture the inormation o theentire population. This is certainly true; but eveni the missing 30% o the population had to bechased in the traditional manner, collecting ull-population census data would still be ar morecost-ecient. I 70% o households providedtheir details online, only 7 million postal (or
A census enumerator taking details rom a gypsy amily or the Dutch census o 1925

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