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Britain Could Give Up Census

by Gopalan on July 11, 2010 at 5:39 AM
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 Britain Could Give Up Census

On the World Population Day, news emerges from the UK that it is all set to end its own census.

The two hundred-year-old tradition is being given the quietus, as the exercise is considered too expensive for a nation hit badly by the global economic downturn.


Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has said there are better, cheaper ways of finding out about Britain's population - although a final decision hasn't yet been taken.

It is an expensive and inaccurate method for tracking population and demographic changes in Britain.

He said the government is looking at alternatives including public and private databases and credit agency reports.

"There are, I believe, ways of doing this which will provide better, quicker information, more frequently and cheaper," said Maude, who oversees the census.

However, it could be too late to drop the next census, on March 27, 2011, from going ahead, costing the government $728 million, British officials said.

Britain has conducted the census every decade since 1801 except 1941 during World War II.

In 1901 even the monarch had to take part. In those days the census enabled social reformers to create colour coded poverty maps of London. Today, census data still determines how public money is spent and where services, like bus routes and GP surgeries, are located.

The government uses results to determine spending priorities and track population changes. Academies, charities and religious groups rely on the census for demographic information on people's households, nationality and marital status.

Last year, Britain posted online the 1911 census and it became an instant hit, with 3 million people accessing the database within a few months.

Tim Finch, head of migration research at the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR). He told Channel 4 News: "The question is if you're going to get rid of the census, what would you replace it with?

"We live in an era of evidence-based policy-making, we need the data on our population, so that we can plan services and distribute money around the country in a way that is sensible.

"So if the census is going to go, we have to replace it with something else whicgh provides us with the information we need.

"...it's absolutely vital that we do know how many people are in our popualtion, what their socio-economic make-up is, so that we can make sure that schools and hospitals and housing are in the right place."

Source: Medindia


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