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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

who really counts?

Like many others, I enjoyed reading the selection from this book. I learned some new things about the history of the census. I had already known some of the background in creating the census but chapter 2 especially laided out the entire story for me. The way the census has evolved is facinating. From originally only asking a few questions to the pages the long form was in 2000 and the different ways of classifing people the census has come a long way.

One point I found interesting was what to do when it came to classifing race. I think the way to classify the hispanic population should be done with more groups. Like Nick said, I am also more then just "white european" I like to count myself as Irish with a bunch of other things. I don't think that just because my ancestors came to the country a lot earlier then some others they should all be lumped together under one catagory. I don't have a nice easy solution to this problem though. Listing every single nationality would be difficult and take up lots of space, so I understand why some are grouped together. Maybe we should not bother with racial categories anymore though since it can be hard to fit into them these days.

Another aspect I found interesting was the political debate about using sampling. It seemed like those debating didn't care so much about the data as about loosing congressional seats. The example used about the errors in predicting the 2000 Presidential race in FL, did sort of make the point about sampling but failed to drive it home. I still believe that sampling is a valid method.


At 1:31 PM, Blogger Molly said...

Good point. I didn't even put the layer of who and what is "white" on to the race/ethnicity debate when I was reading the book. I also think that because so many people are mixed ethnicity, whether it be mixed European or Mexican and Czech, there is no way to accurately describe everyone's specific or mix of race/ethnicity. Perhaps this adds to the arguement that Ben described in his post about not having a race/ethnicity report at all.

At 2:59 PM, Blogger Christy said...

I wasn't too sure that I understood the arguments for/against using sampling method. I'm inclined to say go with what the statisticians say since they have the expertise, unlike a lot of politicians who talk big and distort the argument to their favor but don't have a lot of substance to back it up. Plus, I can't believe that a generally incorruptible group like a bunch of statisticians has a world-wide plan to manipulate all that data.


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