ARE per person: such an approach would still not capture the full experience of intensive travelers, migrant workers, and recreational vehicle users with ties to more than two places. However, a universal ARE option at least breaks free from the notion that respondents must specify one, single place of residence and could provide greater accuracy in the many cases—college students, hospital patients, children in joint custody arrangements, and so forth—where the tension in reporting is between two places.
Current census methodology makes the strong—and sometimes erroneous—assumption that the census questionnaire is properly delivered to the correct housing unit (and to the people who live there). In multiunit structures like apartment buildings, questionnaires may be placed in the wrong unit’s mailbox by mistake. Particularly for large multi-unit structures with a common mail delivery point, mail carriers may also view the census questionnaires as interchangeable (for better or worse, like high-volume advertising or “junk” mail) and put them in mailboxes haphazardly. The sheer volume of the major census mailout in a decennial year can contribute to the perception of the questionnaires as interchangeable, when in fact they are intended to reflect input from a specific designated housing unit. Improper sorting or misplacement prior to giving the mail to letter carriers can lead to questionnaires being delivered to the wrong house.
The 2000 census questionnaire lacked a provision for a respondent to indicate that the address printed on the received questionnaire was erroneous, or that the questionnaire was misdelivered. This has not always been the case. The 1970 census questionnaire—the first administered primarily by mail—included a three-line address box; directly underneath, an italicized instruction read: “If the address shown above has the wrong apartment identification, please write the correct apartment number or location here.” One line was provided for response. The 1980 mailing label space shared the same feature and identical copy (save that the entry space was above, not below, the printed label); three lines were provided for entry. Foreign censuses (see Appendix B) generally do not offer guidance on or examples of such a correction question, yet whether self-administered or conducted by an interviewer, they direct a respondent to write in full address information rather than relying only on a printed address label.
Providing space for respondents to advise of changes to the address printed on their census form is a relatively simple change, but it would entail some cost. Depending on its exact implementation, respondents’ handwritten corrections would likely be ill suited to automatic optical character recognition; accordingly, the burden of data entry would be shifted to human clerks (working with the raw paper forms or, more likely, scanned images). How-