Using Census Data as a Student

Carrie Rheingans

Tiffany’s recent post about the 2010 U.S. Census reminded me of some of the reasons it’s important to fill out your Census forms completely and properly. Just this year alone, I have had multiple class projects that use Census data – for project development, community profiles, and tracking health disparities. I also participated in a community education event in English and Spanish in Detroit that I wrote about last semester. I recently received my Census forms and thought I’d share them so you can see what they look like if you’re not filling them out at your household (see below). One thing I appreciate about the Census is that they are trying to make the forms accessible by those who do not speak English very well. This is very important for me as a person designing social work and public health programs, because there is such disparity in health outcomes between English-speakers and non-English-speakers.

Census Envelope

Census Envelope (English only)

Census Form & Letter

Census Form & Letter (mostly English)

Census Language Assistance Letter

Census Language Assistance Letter (multiple languages)

Unfortunately, the Census has not asked for races the same way across all times it has collected data, so it is sometimes difficult to determine trends. This year, the “Hispanic/Latino” category allows respondents to enter their ancestry, which will be very useful for my work next year in my new social work field placement (I’ll be working with local community partners to create a Latin@ community center in our county).

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