“If too many people refuse to fill in the forms … the census will fail,” comments Straight Statistics’ Nigel Hawkes.
Hawkes’ article highlights the international trend to abandon long-form census data gathering as privacy campaigners grow ever-more vocal. “But by sticking to a mandatory long-form census while other nations are abandoning it, the UK is out on a limb,” it says.
In a parallel development, four former senior civil servants in Canada have written to PM Stephen Harper seeking changes to the country’s Statistics Act. The group, which includes former chief statistician and RSS honorary fellow Ivan Fellegi, want legal safeguards to ensure that changes to the census are controlled by Statistics Canada rather than the government.
Earlier this year, the Canadian government abolished the long-form census and replaced it with a voluntary survey. In the debacle that followed chief statistician Munir Sheikh resigned
, saying the data provided by the survey would not be of comparable quality to that gathered by mandatory census.