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Who’s counting?

The census is upon us. But with a price tag of nearly £500m, can we seriously justify its existence?

By Alice Miles   March 2011

When your 32-page census form drops onto your doormat this March, be thankful that it’s only your type of central heating, number of bedrooms and overnight visitors it wants to know about. It could have been much worse. Among the topics considered but not included this year were fertility, internet access, pet ownership, email addresses, property value and income.

The census is a vast bureaucratic exercise that is becoming increasingly hard to justify. If all the government wants to do is count the population and provide “the main family, social, economic and housing characteristics of persons” required every ten years…

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