The US Census

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The Census is coming! And the questions may make you wonder if the Feds confused the survey with a Myers Briggs personality test.

Uncle Sam wants to know if you have any difficulty bathing, or any trouble concentrating, how you got to work last week, and more precisely, what time you left home to get there. Ten years from now will they want to know your golf handicap, your favorite ice cream flavor, and who wants to be a millionaire?

Prominently featured this year are race and ancestry. If you’re Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino, they want to know if you’re Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, or Puerto Rican.

If you’re white, you’re white. But if not, you can choose among African American black, American Indian or Alaska native – Korean, Filipino, Native Hawaiian, Chamorro, or Samoan.

Who are we anyway, and why do they want to know? American identity and the Census – in this hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Melissa Noble, associate professor of political science at MIT
Mary Waters, professor of sociology at Harvard College and an advisor to the Census Bureau.