census

A complete and individual enumeration of all cases of the type specified within defined boundaries at a single point in time; a 100 per cent count of some social entity or type of event. In contrast to a survey , in which only part of a population is included, a census yields cross-sectional data , ranging from a simple head-count to more sophisticated information, on every member (in theory at least) of a population.
In order to achieve such complete coverage, national censuses usually require compulsion, an obligation to participate and co-operate in providing the information required, and are therefore the preserve of national governments. National censuses have been undertaken only relatively recently (the first British Census took place in 1801).
Most countries carry out a population and housing census every ten years with compulsory participation to ensure total coverage and a complete head-count. Population data in inter-censal years must then be inferred from inter-censal projections or from sample surveys. Some countries also have other national censuses, for example of employment or business activities, or industrial output. Censuses may be carried out annually, or at periodic intervals, instead of every ten years-although there are obvious constraints of logistics and finance. In recent years, therefore, there have been experiments in applying sampling techniques to national censuses. What this usually means is that the 100 per cent count is limited to identifying all relevant cases, combined with a questionnaire survey of a specified proportion of all cases, ranging from 10 per cent to 50 per cent-in effect a census followed immediately by a sample survey. Other bodies that attempt censuses-for example of all members of an association-may achieve high levels of co-operation, but are unlikely to achieve complete coverage due to the absence of any compulsion to participate, resulting in some degree of non-response.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Census — taker visits a family living in a caravan, Netherlands 1925 A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular… …   Wikipedia

  • Census — • A canonical term variously defined by different writers Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Census     Census     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • census — cen·sus n: a usu. complete count of a population (as of a state); esp: a periodic governmental count of a population that usu. includes social and economic information (as occupations, ages, and incomes) see also article i and amendment xvi of… …   Law dictionary

  • census — cen‧sus [ˈsensəs] noun censuses PLURALFORM [countable] 1. an occasion when the population of a country is officially counted and details about the people are recorded: • the 2001 Census of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 2. an occasion when… …   Financial and business terms

  • Census — Cen sus, n. [L. census, fr. censere. See {Censor}.] 1. (Bot. Antiq.) A numbering of the people, and valuation of their estate, for the purpose of imposing taxes, etc.; usually made once in five years. [1913 Webster] 2. An official registration of …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • census — (n.) 1610s, from L. census the enrollment of the names and property assessments of all Roman citizens, originally pp. of censere to assess (see CENSOR (Cf. censor) (n.)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Census [1] — Census, 672–74 König von Wesser s. England (Gesch.) …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Census [2] — Census, 1) (röm. Ant.), alle 5 Jahre auf dem Forum, seit 434 v. Chr. in der Villa publica auf dem Marsfelde gehaltene Schätzung der römischen Bürger nach ihrem Vermögen, wurde 577 v. Chr. von dem Könige Servius Tullius (s.u. Rom [Gesch.])… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Census — (lat.), s. Zensus. C. hereditarius, Abschoß; C. immigrationis, Anzugsgeld (s.d.) …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Census — Census, in der röm. Republik die alle 5 Jahre durch die Censoren vorgenommene Zählung der Bürger und deren Eintheilung in eine der 6 Klassen nach dem Maßstabe des Grundvermögens. Die Klassen selbst waren in Centurien getheilt, und jede Centurie… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • census — [n] head count demographics, demography, enumeration, poll, population tally, statistics, stats; concepts 283,786 …   New thesaurus

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.