JG: Re: Census Undercounts - an enumerator's point of view #general

jeremy frankel

In the Discussion Group posting for May 2nd, Nick Landau wrote:
A household survey was proposed to supplement the Census.

It notes that "The original plan for the 2000 census called for the use of
scientific estimation only as a supplemental means of finding those people
who do not respond to traditional census methods."

I think that >from this it is apparent that at the highest level of the US
Government there was a concern about the inaccuracies and lack of coverage
of the Census in specific groups (particularly the disabled).
I was in fact employed by the US Census Bureau as a "follow up"
enumerator, to visit the households where census forms had not been
mailed back.

I live in what is called the San Francisco Bay Area, a conurbation of
some 6.5 million people. I specifically live in Berkeley and, like
almost everyone in the team I was allocated to work in the city of
Oakland, which is well-known for its racial diversity. Principally,
we dealt with African-Americans and Asian neighborhoods. (There were
several teams working there.)

We were given batches of 40 blank forms, both short and long forms.
Forms were "pre-addressed" as to who got the long form. We had to
visit the addresses every time of day until we were successful, ie.,
morning, afternoon and evening.

One problem not highlighted in this thread about modern censuses, is
the problem one has communicating with individuals and/or families
who speak no English. It was quite strange going into a crowded Asian
apartment on several evenings, with parents, grandparents and young
children, probably very recently arrived in America, none of whom
could speak English. I had to try and fill out perhaps 100 questions
(if they got the long form). Somehow, I managed to get them to
understand and get the appropriate answers.

However, there was always a household which wouldn't want to be
involved and so I would report this and it would "move up the chain
of command" for someone else to try.

Finally, as hard as the Bureau tried, not every address was a
residential one. In some cases, a home had been turned into an
office, in other instances, it wasn't obvious that the address was a
store premises.

This is just a taste of how I spent three months during the summer of 2000.

Jeremy G Frankel
ex Edgware, London, England
Berkeley, California, USA

EBIN: Russia -> New York, USA
FRANKEL: Poland -> London, England
GOLD (RATH): Praszka, Poland -> London, England
KOENIGSBERG: Vilkaviskis, Lithuania -> London, England -> NYC, NY, USA
LEVY (later LEADER): Kalisz, Poland -> London, England
PRINCZ/PRINCE: Krakow, Poland -> London, England -> NYC, NY, USA

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