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The Object of the Census. j
(By G. H. K'NniHS, C.M.C., F.S
In the past tlio census was umlertukcn primarily (or military or ftscul purposes, and WHS too often used as an instrument
hy which nionurcbs meusurcii the probalil-; Utios of success ill their ellorts towards
tho aggrandisement of their kingdom. To- j day these purposes, though existing to a great or less extent In connection with the censuses of soine countries, occupy a
comparatively Inferior position, and tho i modern consus is now used mainly for | sociological, economic, and hygienic pur- i poses. . In order to recognise the valuo I
at the modern census It will lie necessary . for- us to focus our attention on some of the more Important and direct results ob tained; through its aid. These, however, are so wide that only a mere indliation can here he given. 1
(a) A National Stocktaking.-To the
average citizen, the aspect of census-tak- . lng, which is of the greatest interest, is
probably that under which tho periodical . national count is viewed as a gigantic' stock-taking. .It is the occasion on which i the manugera of tho community in tho persons of the Government of the day take steps to ascertain tho stock of human life which' the community represents, to classi fy that stock according to' tlio categories of 'sex, age, birth, place, and by compar ing'the totals in the various classes with the corresponding totals for tho previous census, to.ascertain the guln or loss which has occurred during tho lntercensal per iod. lly such means tho tendency of tho community in tho direction of growth or decay cun bo readily determined, and its relatlvo position amongst tho nations of the world can bo measured. Without a consus everything of this naturo is liased upon conjecture and estimates, often ill
In the landscape depicted by the census tho figures supply tho light and shade ns vividly ns the brush of an artist. The classification of occupations, for example, represents tho scale of our industrial de velopment." Hie variety of pursuits, the number of persons engaging in each of them, unci tho relation of thoso pursuits to each other all cqtne into sight in this con nection. In the same way the results of tho Inquiries as to the education yield suggestions of tho highest value, for the condition of people may bo gauged by , H's intclllgenco or by the prevalence of educa tion. Ignorance often reinforces poverty, vice, and crime, and although men are not made moral by instruction in "the threo li's" yet an intelligent community lives oh a.moro udvnnceu plane-of moral life. Within last1 dcctado the uumerlcul strength off tho British Empire has undoubtedly in creased, hut the actual Increaso hus yet to bo ascertained, and tho result will bo of considerable value. The fuct that the Holf-Crovcrningi Dominions are now com mencing to attain tho status of nation hood is one of immense significance in connection with tho governance and des tiny of our Empire. At tho samo timo data will bo made available for dealing more effectively with what is commonly regarded as tho most urgent problem of tho day. The declining birth-rate, the postponement of marriage to a later per iod than formerly, the averuge number of children per family, are among a number of matters concerning which tho census re turns will supply a trustworthy basis for argument nnd possibly for useful action.
(b) Statistical. - From a statistical point of viow, the census is practically in dispensable. Not only docs it furnish ma terial concerning the composition of tho community of u nature absolutely" unat tainable at any other time, and thus sap ply rich field of Investigation for tho econ omist and sociologist, nnd the statesman, but it provides also a basis for tho stan dardisation of nil other statistics of the community. Statistics of production, fi nance, transport, communication, trade, shipping, and vitnl statistics, etc., how ever carefully compiled, loso much of their value unless it be possible to co-ordlnnte them with tho population from which they have been derived. To show tho valuo of production in different Industries without knowing tho number, sex, and. age of those engaged in such industries, to know tho extent of trade without knowing tho num ber of people responsible therefore, or know tho amount of public debt, without knowing the number of the population on whoso behalf it has been raised, would de prive our knowledge of tho greater part of Its value. For oxnmple, to be told that tho revenue derived from tnxation in a particular country Is £10,000,000, while that In another Is only £5,000,000, con veys in itself no information whatever as to tho relatlvo lucl'dence of these taxes upon the Individual Inhabitants- of the two countries, unless wo also know tho popu lation of each country. Even then wo aro hardly In a position to Judge unless wo know what proportion ..belongs to tho class of breadwinners. To make the basis for our Judgment still moro complete, we should have to consider tho naturo of tho taxation, and then to possess further in formation ns to the economic, and social condition of the people-information for example, such ns tho number of people earning different Incomes, and in tho cuso of customs or excise duties, tho consump tion by tho different wage-classes of tho various articles taxed. Although this in formation is not boing nskod for at the census, cITorts are being made to obtain it within tho Commonwealth by other means. Again, wo hear that In the courso of a year, there are 10,000 deaths In ono place, 20,000 in another. Unless wo also know tho population of each place, tho proportion of males nnd females, the num ber of persons in various age-classes, and tho naturo of the occupations of the peo ple, we cannot compare tho relative ad vantages of the two places with regard to hoalth and hygiene. All these nnd many similar Important particulars are only ob tained, and can only bo obtained, by m'eans of the census.
(c) jAHmlnistrative. --For administra tive purposes, an accurate knowledge of tho oxtent and distribution of the. popula tion is of the utmost value, whether tho matter In hand be that of providing fac ilities for transport and communication, educational facilities, polico, or other pro tection, or any other of tho many require ments of tho community, the provision of which devolves on the Government.
Another Important object is that of ob taining Information as to tho distribution of population throughout .the various part* of .the country for tho purposes of division into electoral districts that will give equit ablo representation. Tho Commonwealth Constitution Act bases tho representation of the several States in tho House of Rep resentatives on their respective .popula tions" thus making an accurate census es sential for the proper working of the Con stitution,
Whether a community Is rapidly or slow ly increasing, whether its members are aggregating themselves In the towns or distributing themselves over tho country, whether existing or proposed expenditure!! of public or other monies-ns, for example, on roads, raitways, or schools-are justi fied by existing or anticipated local popu lations, whether the production of wealth in any locality represents benefits to few or many ; these are questions, tho answers to which uro only jrossihlo through a good census. Yet they are Indispensable to ad
'(d) Financial. - In many ways a know ledge of its numbers Is of advantage to a community from the standpoint of public finance. This is especially the case m the Commonwealth, where the relative popu lations of .the several. States have played such important . parts hi connection with tho allocation to them of Commonwealth revenue anil expenditure. Up to the 30th June, 1910, nil "new" expenditure of the Commonwealth was debited to the State on a populntion basis, while under the Bcheme brought into operation by the pre sent. Commonwealth Government, the pem ulntions of tho several States are made
the liases of allocation of payments by the i l-'onmionweultli to tho States.,'
(o) l-'ublic lleulth.-l'rolmlil.v one of the most important objects of the census is that of enabling comparisons to bo 111 ink' I between tho douth ami disease rates of var
ious localities unil in vurious trades. Ilef encu hi!s already been 111c.de to the impos sibility of instituting any such compuri | sons without thu knowledge obtained by means of the census. With this knowledge I in connection with statistics of deaths und
diseases, investigations as to relative sa lubrity can l»i readily carried on, and by careful analysis the cause of the excessive
| mortality or morbidity rates of uny par Iticulnr locality or trade may bo ascertain
ed and steps taken for thu amelioration of ! the conditions which have Ifeen instrumen
tal in bringing them about.
(f) General.-In addition to the'more Im portant objects und uses of tho'census which have been indicated in this article, thero are many others of minor' impor tance. Enough hns, however, been stated | to Bhow that the modern census is un in ' stitution of great value, und thut the re
sults obtained by it nre essential to the : proper investigation of many, economic anil . sociological questions. It may be seen ' also that apart from Its immediate value
the census furnishes the husis upon which may be built that derivative knowlodgo without ,which the legislation und admin IstratioHu. of n, community would bo car ried on in tho dark, It Is 'his know ledge which makes. possible the review of the affairs of n nation, which enables some estimate to. bo mndo of tho success or fail ure of an* administration, which discloses whether, those ulTuirs indicate success or disaster. In short, without statistics by aid of tho census, any satisfactory review of, or forecast in regard to,< nutional affairs is an Impossibility.