Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Scholars on the longform census controversy

The University Affairs blog has a good round-up of academic and general criticism of Statistics Canada's decision to abandon the long-form census in favour of a voluntary survey.

Is this "a direct attack on the ability of government to make smart decisions" and "the Conservative government's latest act of gratuitous stupidity." as Dan Gardner puts it. Or just short-sighted administration at StatsCan?  Those seem to be the alternatives posed by the critics. 

Or are they responding rationally to the public's very real and every growing resistence to all kind of surveying, particularly surveying with a jail threat behind it?

Historians who recall Statistics Canada's enthusiasm a few years ago for keeping century-old census data secret forever may not be inclined to give the agency the benefit of the doubt. And its successful insistence, which seemed ill-advised and stubborn at once, on giving citizens answering the 2006 census the power to deny future citizens access to 2006 data even in 2106, further erodes confidence in this decision.
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