Census Taking, 1970

March 18, 1970

Report Outline
Controversy and Impact of 1970 Census
Development of Population Counting
Proposals for Improved Census-Taking
Special Focus

Controversy and Impact of 1970 Census

The nation again is about to count its people and find where and how they live. The 19th decennial census on April 1 will provide Americans a statistical portrait from which government and business will make decisions affecting them all. Where people live will determine which states will gain and lose congressional seats. It will also bear on the allocation of federal and state funds to localities, on business plans for plant location and market strategy, on school construction, on social needs of the inner city and a thousand other matters. Unless a mid-decade census is undertaken, the 1970 census will remain the point of reference for political, economic and social deliberations about the United States for 10 years.

The importance of accuracy and completeness in census taking has increased greatly since the last decennial census in 1960. A correct head count is crucial to the realignment of congressional and state legislative districts in fulfillment of the Supreme Court's “one man-one vote” decisions. In addition, social legislation of the 1960s placed heavy reliance on the validity of numerical information about congested neighborhoods, average levels of income and education, employment status and other demographic features which only a census records fully.

Outcry Over Privacy and Compulsory Answers

But the 1970 census has become an object of controversy to a greater extent than any in the past. Some black militants, suspicious of how census information will be used, have urged ghetto dwellers to ignore the questionnaires. At the other end of the social spectrum, some affluent citizens have also voiced distrust of government information-gatherers. They resent, as an invasion of privacy, census questions about bathing facilities and the number of children borne by women in their households.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 03, 2019  The 2020 Census Updated
May 14, 2010  Census Controversy
May 01, 1998  Census 2000
Mar. 10, 1989  1990 Census: Undercounting Minorities
Feb. 29, 1980  Census Taking, 1980
Mar. 18, 1970  Census Taking, 1970