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What Is a Census?

A census is an official count of members of a population of people (or of other living things). The government form of a census counts the residents or citizens in specified areas, often at regular intervals.

Accurate census information is critical in determining everything from a nationís population to its average income, from the birth rate to the death rate. The census is a necessary part of making sure a government is doing what it is supposed to do.

While the census provides a useful way of obtaining statistical information about a population, such information can sometimes lead to abuses, political or otherwise, made possible by the linking of individuals identities to anonymous census data.

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