The importance of census

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ON Saipan, enumerators are  collecting information for the latest census.

The island has a variety of ethnic groups: Chamorros, Carolinians, Caucasians, African Americans, Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Bangladeshi, Filipinos, Palauans, Kosraeans, Yapese, Chuukeese, Pohnpeians, Marshallese, Samoans, native Hawaiians…the list goes on.

So why do we have a census every 10 years?

Christy Sakaziro

“The census is most definitely important — our whole representative democracy is based on it,” says Gordon De Jong, professor of sociology and demography and senior scientist at Penn State's Population Research Institute. “The census ensures that each community gets the right number of representatives in government.” Because representation is based on population, an up-to-date tally is essential, he adds.

The census also helps with the equitable distribution of public funds, De Jong says, as federal and state funding for educational programs, healthcare, law enforcement and highways is allocated in part based on population.

“Equitably distributing the billions of dollars of public money requires up-to-date population data,” De Jong says.

Some CWs and Micronesians interviewed by this writer wonder why they are excluded from many federal programs such as health insurance, food stamps or other services even though their U.S. citizen children are entitled to those same programs and services.

“Why would they count me so they can ask for more federal funding for programs and services I cannot apply for if I don't have U.S. citizen children?” asked a long-time non-U.S. citizen resident.

Many of them have answered the census questions, but they are wondering who can answer their  own questions.

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