Came acrosss this great article in Friday’s Wall Street Journal about the plan for a kindler, gentler US Census in 2010. In the past, the Census has become bloated to the point that it had lost focus on its main objective—to count how many people live in the US and who they are. The article details the effort to streamline the process to meet these ends. The result is an utterly simple, six-question census questionaire that is almost fool-proof.
There’s an important lesson to be learned here about basic survey research. It’s easy to lose sight of the questions you’re trying to answer by trying too hard to answer them. Sometimes the best tactic is simplicity. It’s clear that these six well-designed Census questions will be far more accurate in painting a picture of the US poplulation than the dozens of questions they asked in the 2000 Census.
Ultimately, it doesn’t take the little details for granted by bogging the questionaire down with superfluous bullshit like How many telephones are in your home? or What type of vehicle do you own? It’s mission is clear; How many of us live here and who are we?