to areas that share common characteristics (such as demographic composition or level of income), may be indicative of a census process that is biased for or against those types of areas. Should any such patterns emerge, they should be checked against the results of previous censuses as a confirmatory measure.


Evaluation of a decennial census is not an easy task, and it does not lend itself to snap summary judgments. That is, it is both futile and unfair to try to render verdicts like a “good census” or a “bad census,” a “perfect census” or a “failed census.” A thorough evaluation of a census must measure the quality of all of its various outputs, interpreting them in the context of their many possible uses; it must examine all procedures for the types of error they may introduce and use appropriate techniques to estimate the total level of error in the census. In this chapter the panel has sketched out its basic objectives and guidelines; in the remainder of this interim report, we begin this program of evaluation.

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