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Census

  • By: Nancy K. Torrieri
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

A census is a data collection activity that is usually periodic and is typically conducted by a governmental entity for the purpose of obtaining statistical information and producing data for the entire population. A census contrasts with a survey, which uses sampling methods and obtains information from a subset of rather than the entire population. In the United States, the term census is commonly associated with the Decennial Census of Population and Housing, which takes place every 10 years and is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the purpose of counting the population to apportion the seats in the House of Representatives among the states and to provide small-area data necessary for legislative redistricting.

Many countries conduct periodic censuses for their populations; their design, ...

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