The 1790 Census resulted in a nationwide population count of 3.9 million. That number included slaves counted as three-fifths of a whole person. Altogether, this population count was lower than leaders of the era — George Washington and Thomas Jefferson among them — expected. Questions of accuracy would prove to be a recurring theme. As a result, the modern decennial Censuses include procedures to check the accuracy of the count.
There have been a total of 22 censuses since the 1790 Census. These were often undertaken with very different counting methods and question wording. Most recently, Census 2010 was mailed to every home in America. Census 2010 reported a national count of 308 million people in one of the most accurate censuses to date. Since its inception, the Federal Census has had a huge impact and influence on American life.
Drawing Political boundaries
Data from the United States Census is at the very heart of American representative democracy. This has been true ever since the Census was ratified as part of the U.S. Constitution in 1788. Population data is used to set up political representation at all levels of government:
Federal House of Representatives
Census population counts determine how many seats in the House a state receives. Once determined, states draw their own district boundaries using Census data. In 2010, for example, Massachusetts lost a congressional seat (from 10 seats to 9), while Florida gained two (25 to 27).
More on Boston Chron
- edjuster Celebrates Twenty Years of Excellence in Contents Claims Management for Insurers, Adjusters and Policyholders
- Gold City Music announces a NEW CD RELEASE By Former Isley Brother CHRIS JASPER..."For the Love of You"
- Braeden Lichti: The Complicated World of Biotech Investments in the Era of COVID-19
- Monitor Report: Goldman Sachs Completes 90% of $1.8B Target for Consumer-Relief Under Mortgage Settlements
- Capgemini UK Plc Breaches GDPR Regulations
Seats are drawn for state legislative and senatorial districts using Census data.
Cities and towns use Census data to draw internal political boundaries, like wards and districts.
Informing funding decisions
The richness of Census data allows the federal government to distribute funding for some of the country's most critical social programs. Funds are directed toward those people with the greatest need. Most Census-guided funding to Massachusetts is allocated through one of the three systems below:
Formula grants are allocated to states through formulas that typically target greater funding to areas or populations with greater need. The largest example of this type is Medicaid. This program provides health insurance coverage to low-income families and individuals.
Unlike formula grants, project grants fund specific projects for fixed periods of time. These can include anything from scholarship funding to construction grants. The Head Start/Early Head Start programs are examples of this type of grant.
Direct Payments for Specified Use
Direct payments are made to individuals, private firms or institutions for a particular activity or in support of a particular program. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is one such program.
Researchers take advantage of all Census products
Aside from the decennial Census, researchers make use of another Census Bureau product — the American Community Survey — to understand the makeup of America. From 1970 to 2000, the decennial Census included two questionnaires. The first, the short-form Census, was distributed to almost every household in America. The second was the long-form Census. The was distributed to the remaining one in six American residences that did not receive the short-form.
More on Boston Chron
- Practicing mindfulness without addressing self-destructive habits is like placing a band-aid on a festering wound
- Glass Mosaic Artist Allison Eden Studios Pivots Into Fashion With Face Mask Line
- Baker-Polito Administration, WGBH and Special Guests to Celebrate the Massachusetts High School Class of 2020 with a Virtual Commencement Ceremony
- Solar Therapeutics Reopens Adult-Use Cannabis Dispensary with Curbside Pickup Beginning Monday, May
- Notes from the Archives: Memorial Day in Boston
More complex and time consuming, the long-form Census gave researchers a more nuanced understanding of the population. It did so by asking more questions of a representative sample of the population. The long-form Census also extrapolated those answers across the United States as a whole. The questions included ones about languages spoken at home, as well as educational and employment situations (among other areas).
The 2000 Census was the last decennial Census to feature a long-form questionnaire. In 2005, those questions were moved over to its replacement, the American Community Survey. This survey, which takes place each year, allows fine-grained analysis of all Census-designated geographies. This includes the nation as a whole down to geographies as small as several City blocks.
Together, the American Community Survey and decennial Census help us understand a changing America. State and local governments use the Bureau's data to help plan for population growth. Businesses use it to understand their local markets and to consider plans for expansion. In the nonprofit world, Census data are used to find vulnerable populations. Social scientists and pollsters use Census data to design sample methodology to better understand what the American public is thinking.
All told, Census data is used in many different ways.
Latest on Boston Chron
- RAIN Group Named to Selling Power's Top 20 Sales Training Companies List for Fifth Straight Year
- Boston: Demolition Delay application: 121-135 Sherman Road, West Roxbury
- Colorado Functional Chewing Gum Brands Now Available Touch-Free; The New Normal is Helping to Expand a New Category
- New Book Offers Hands-On Guidance to Female Investors at Early Stage of Investing
- Green Energy Exchange Closes Financing with Shell Energy
- Exploros™ for Remote and Face-to-Face Instruction is a Finalist in the 2020 EdTech Awards
- NS4ed Designs a Customized Career Readiness Portal for National Rural Education Association
- Lineus Medical Awarded Key Patent
- RAIN Group Secures Spot on Selling Power Top 20 Sales Training Companies List for 5th Straight Year
- Compassion Launches Global Initiative to Combat the Havoc Wreaked by COVID-19
- Digital-Only ZYNLO Bank Selects Madison, Wisconsin, for Launch
- Boston: A message from Commissioner McCosh: Moving towards reopening
- Massachusetts: Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito Highlight Workplace Implementation of New COVID-19 Safety Standards at Symmons Industries in Braintree
- MBK Senior Living Acquires Kirkwood Orange Assisted Living & Memory Care
- Michael Brown joins the Qnext Board Advisory Team and Brings Significant Insight on Applying Cybersecurity & Zero Trust Remote Access to Public Sector
- Symplast Partners with ChangeWell Training Academy to Present Three-Course Webinar Series Focused on Mastering Video Post-COVID
- U.S. Army Selects DiSTI to Build C-RAM II Operator and Maintenance Trainer (OMT)
- CRH Healthcare hires Veteran Operator as COO
- Onlive Server Launched Japan VPS Hosting with Cloud Computing Control Panel
- Student Essay Contest, Hosted By Humanist Canada, Call for Submissions