Census 2010: How to Word Simple Questions

A recent article in the WSJ, entitled Census 2010 Plays Six Not-So-Easy Questions (behind paywall), discusses the difficulty of choosing and wording the questions that will go into the 2010 Census. This kind of information is important for many things, from allocating members of Congress to policy planning to learning about the growth and decline of cities. Unfortunately, if the questions are ambiguous or confusing, large groups of people end up not responding, or giving the wrong answer. So they’re trying to be really careful about it:

“You only get one chance with the census,” says Preston Waite, the associate director of the decennial census. “If the wording isn’t right, it’s 10 more years before you can ask that question again. You only get one chance at bat.”

An interesting read.