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Video Update: The controversy over Census 2000, and whether the numbers should be adjusted to compensate for those not counted. (3/1/01)
2000-- avoiding an undercount.
statistical sampling question.
A multi-racial Census?
What was your neighborhood like 10 years ago? Who lived there, how old were they? Were there more kids then? Chances are things have changed. Your hometown has probably grown or shrunk, and there are likely some new faces in town.
Keeping track of the changes in every city and town is a lot of work, but it's also important. It helps communities figure out how their needs and resources are changing.
Fortunately, there's someone in charge of all this head-counting: the U.S. Census Bureau. Those workers conducted a pretty exhaustive head-count last year and now the results are in: Americans are not who they used to be.
The Census reveals a lot more than just how many people live here. It also contains an enormous amount of information on how, where and how long Americans live, and with whom.
According to the latest numbers, Americans as a group are older and more diverse than they were 10 years ago. Hispanics are on the verge of replacing blacks as America's largest minority.
For the first time, there are more people living alone than people living in traditional mom-dad-and-kids families. Americans are leaving rural areas and congregating in cities and suburbs. And among the surprises: the number of single-dad households is booming.
An older country
The nation's population increased by more people in the 1990's than in any other 10-year period in United States history. We grew by 33 million people in the last decade, to about 280 million. That's greater than the country's population total during the Civil War. The increase was fueled in part by waves of young immigrants with families.
For the first time in the 20th century, all 50 states increased in population. Areas with large growth included rural areas near expanding cities, and eight of the 10 largest cities got even larger. In fact, 80 percent of Americans, or four out of five, live in cities or suburbs.
America is also aging. The median age (def: the point between an equal amount of younger and older people) has reached the highest point ever recorded, 35.3 years. Researchers attribute the aging trend to medical advances, better health care, and better health habits that help people live longer.
It may be hard to imagine but the majority of the population is your parents' age and older. Consider this: there are 80 million people age 19 and under, and 200 million people age 20 and older.
Sociologists predict that society's focus will be increasingly influenced by the needs of an older population, whether it's the government working on Social Security and Medicare - or by higher demand for senior housing and other retirement amenities.
In anticipation of more flattened feet, (your feet flatten and widen as you grow older) stores have begun to stock wider shoes!
Advocates for children fear the growing numbers of older Americans will reduce the share of population directly involved with raising children. Politicians and policy makers might then begin to take money allocated toward beneficial youth programs, such as education and child care, and spend it on other programs.
Last year's census form included 63 racial categories, and for the first time, allowed respondents to check more than one box. Just 10 years ago, there were only four races on the form.
Overall, Census 2000 found that one out of every four Americans identified themselves as a member of a minority group, compared with one in five 10 years ago.
Are we more diverse than the last census or have more racial options made us more aware of our diversity?
The most spotlighted group has been America's Hispanic population that increased by 58% since 1990 to 35.3 million, or 12.5 percent of the United States. The number of Hispanics is now almost equal to the number of non-Hispanic blacks, who remain the nation's largest minority group.
American Family Portrait
Census data also shows that Americans in the 1990s continued a 30-year trend away from the traditional "married with children" family. Fewer than one in four households now consist of a married couple and their children.
Single-parent households headed by mothers increased by 25 percent to 7.6 million. The number of single dads raising kids jumped by 62 percent, to 2.2 million while households composed of unmarried partners grew by 72 percent to 5.4 million - five times as fast as the number of households overall. Even the number of Americans living alone - increasing by 23 percent - surpassed the number of married-couple households with children for the first time.
Researchers cite high divorce rates, a greater acceptance of cohabitation (living together without being married), delayed marriages and longer life spans as factors in the shift. The newer phenomenon of single father-headed households may be attributed to more judges awarding custody to fathers in divorce cases and more women choosing jobs over family life.
Some new studies suggest the 38 percent of American children live with split-up or never-married parents may be at a disadvantage. They are reportedly less healthy, receive less education, do more poorly in school, and are less likely to get and stay married as adults compared to children of married parents.
Census numbers determine 80 percent of federal grants and the number of states' congressional representatives. Whoever has the people gets the money and the representatives, so poorer urban areas, and extremely rural areas, which tend to be undercounted, are likely to be denied millions and underrepresented.
Counting Americans and gathering information about how they live cost the U.S. government $6 billion in 2000. This was an investment in understanding not only how many of us Americans there are, but also who we are.
Without the census, we would not be able to take a good look at who we are as Americans and how the country is changing as time goes by.
do you think? What do you think the U.S. will look like in 50 years?
-Contributed by Jennifer Bryson and Jennifer Nelson
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