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UK Considers Scrapping the Census


Throughout the ages and across all nations, one universal truth about a government census becomes evident: they are difficult, time-consuming and expensive to do. Family historians sometimes like to think that a census is partly done for their benefit, which unfortunately is not true.

A census is essentially a snapshot in time that is meant to capture an inventory of people, places and things. Governments will only conduct a census when they see clear benefits that outweigh the cost. Traditionally, these benefits have included such things as improving the taxation collection system (by knowing how much people make), improving the electoral system (by knowing where voters live), preparing for a potential war (by knowing how many young men live in the country) and generally improving the planning capabilities of the government.

People are much more mobile than even 50 years ago. As such, some people in the UK think the 10-year population census is too dated by the time the survey is completed and all the results have been tabulated.

As reported by the BBC, some feel that it would ultimately be cheaper and more accurate to maintain a continuous real-time database of where everyone lives. A real-time database would certainly help future genealogists, but at the expense of people foregoing some of their current privacy since the government would have the capability of tracking people in real time.

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