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Who Counts: The Politics of Census-Taking in Contemporary America Hardcover – September, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0871542564 ISBN-10: 0871542560 Edition: 2nd Printing

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Product Details

  • Series: Russell Sage Foundation Census
  • Hardcover: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation; 2nd Printing edition (September 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871542560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871542564
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,867,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This demanding but instructive study provides legal, political, and scientific background on why the current battle over use of statistical sampling in the year 2000 census has arisen and how possible decisions will play out. Anderson, a history and urban studies professor, and Fienberg, a statistics and social science professor, served on expert panels helping to plan for the 2000 census. They provide a brief history of the census and then address the issue of undercounted populations, particularly in the 1970 and 1980 censuses. They cover the lengthy 1980 litigation in which New York and other historically undercounted jurisdictions sought a more complete count, as well as controversy over which racial classifications the 2000 census should use. A chapter on dual-systems estimation and other statistical approaches demands some mathematical understanding. The book includes a brief discussion of the Supreme Court's 1999 decision that sampling cannot be used for reapportionment purposes but can, perhaps, be used to meet other census objectives. Mary Carroll

Review

"Who Counts?" provides an important contribution to the ongoing discussion on how to address [the] persistent "differential undercount".... The authors provide a concise, yet richly informative, history of the census-adjustment controversy. Readers learn how, in contrast to analogous figures for whites, the number of black males who registered for the armed services in the fall of 1940 far exceeded estimates based on the 1940 census. They learn how professional statisticians, both career employees of the Census Bureau and members of outside review panels, have overseen innovation in the census. They learn how large cities and other parties angered by disproportionate undercounts have aired their cases in the federal courts, which have taken their grievances seriously. And they learn how politics inevitably interacts with census-taking, because of the direct political implications of census results....[Anderson and Fienberg] successfully avoud inflammatory rhetoric ! and offer a wealth of insight. For those interested in understanding the historical and scientific context of the census adjustment controversy, "Who Counts?" is absolutely essential reading. -- Science Magazine, Jan 14, 2000

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Michael R. Chernick on February 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Anderson is an historian. Fienberg is a statistician. Both know a great deal about the Census. I heard Steve Fienberg lecture about the Census and the undercount issue presenting the history of the census, the discovery of the undercount problem and the various methods for improvement based on post enumerative surveys. He also presented the many popular myths about the Census and cleared up the statistical controversy for me. This was given at UC Irvine in April 2000 as the 2000 Census was evolving. Much of the talk was based on this book which is written in laymen's terms. I decided to get the book and read it from cover to cover shortly thereafter. While statistician argue about sampling methodology, it should be clear that sampling to adjust the Census is feasible and its success depends on the care taken with the initial mailing and follow-up interviews. Many politicians and journalist (particularly William Saffire) have created confusion and it takes a clear presentation as given here by Anderson and Fienberg to see the real picture. At too fine a level, the sample sizes will be too small for adjustment to work with respect to each small group. See also the other Amazon review by Hobby which provides a more detailed discussion of the book. The book is excellent on facts but controversial on opinions.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bill Hobby on December 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
WHO COUNTS?: By Margo J. Anderson and Stephen E. Fienberg. The Politics of Census-Taking in Contemporary America. By Bill Hobby
A census seems pretty simple. Just count the people. Then decide how many votes each state gets in Congress and for President. Then divvy up a few hundred million dollars and go on about your business.
But often in history, it seems to be more complicated than that. Jesus was born during a census in Bethlehem and crazy King Herod tried to murder all the boy babies born that day. President George Washington's first veto (1790) was of a bill apportioning Congressional seats among the thirteen states.
Congress apparently has just discovered that the Census Bureau will soon count us for the fifty-first time. So Congress has declared the census an emergency, to be paid for off budget (with funny money). Veterans' Hospitals are another such unforeseen emergency.
Wisconsin may have exported a Congressman because it has exported 3,700 (soon to be 10,000) inmates to other states. So Governor Thomas Thompson has had a bill introduced in Congress to count the inmates as if they were still in Wisconsin. Governor Thompson has not said which of the inmates is the mystery Congressman.
Should Americans living overseas be counted? If so, how and where, and for what purpose?
Such are a few of the issues surrounding the 2000 census.
All these issues are analyzed in "Who Counts?", a book invaluable to anyone interested in the politics of the census, reapportionment, and redistricting. Those issues will be in the courts throughout the next decade. The redistricting lawsuits will challenge district lines from Congressional seats to commissioner court precincts.
Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bill Hobby on December 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
WHO COUNTS?: By Margo J. Anderson and Stephen E. Fienberg. The Politics of Census-Taking in Contemporary America. By Bill Hobby
A census seems pretty simple. Just count the people. Then decide how many votes each state gets in Congress and for President. Then divvy up a few hundred million dollars and go on about your business.
But often in history, it seems to be more complicated than that. Jesus was born during a census in Bethlehem and crazy King Herod tried to murder all the boy babies born that day. President George Washington's first veto (1790) was of a bill apportioning Congressional seats among the thirteen states.
Congress apparently has just discovered that the Census Bureau will soon count us for the fifty-first time. So Congress has declared the census an emergency, to be paid for off budget (with funny money). Veterans' Hospitals are another such unforeseen emergency.
Wisconsin may have exported a Congressman because it has exported 3,700 (soon to be 10,000) inmates to other states. So Governor Thomas Thompson has had a bill introduced in Congress to count the inmates as if they were still in Wisconsin. Governor Thompson has not said which of the inmates is the mystery Congressman.
Should Americans living overseas be counted? If so, how and where, and for what purpose?
Such are a few of the issues surrounding the 2000 census.
All these issues are analyzed in "Who Counts?", a book invaluable to anyone interested in the politics of the census, reapportionment, and redistricting. Those issues will be in the courts throughout the next decade. The redistricting lawsuits will challenge district lines from Congressional seats to commissioner court precincts.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A good book with ample discussion about the USA census, including limitations and technical aspects. A number of annexes complements the detailed chapters. The book includes an overview of all census starting at 1790. The chapter 8 about the measurement of race shows the progress on this very sensitive matter. The Annex H on this subject is also very interesting.
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