Counting the Masses

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the United States Census

You have seen its catchy advertisement while watching the Super Bowl and riding the T. Your parents have received at least one announcement in the mail. Your House Master may already have e-mailed you an advance warning.

This week, an event 10 years in the making finally arrives--the United States census.

Over the next few days, almost every household in America will receive a simple form, seven questions long, in the mail.


Though the form should only take about 10 minutes to fill out, the federal, state and local governments, in addition to private corporations, will use the information it provides to dole out billions of dollars in funding every year for the next decade.

"On April 15, you have to settle with Uncle Sam on what you owe the government. The census form is your way of telling the government what they should give back to your community," says Steven E. Clinkenbeard, manager of the district census office.

Over the next several weeks, Cambridge will embark on a series of measures to maximize responses throughout the city and at Harvard. Cambridge will rely on Harvard students--considered inhabitants of Cambridge even if they vote, pay taxes or legally reside elsewhere--to both return their forms promptly and assist local census-takers.

A complete count, Clinkenbeard says, will ensure that the community receives its full share of government funding, provide accurate demographic data and help guide city planning.

Census 2000

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