amount of their numbers. Were their share of representation alone to be governed by this rule, they would have an interest in exaggerating their inhabitants. Were the rule to decide their share of taxation alone, a contrary temptation would prevail. By extending the rule to both objects the states will have opposite interests, which will control and balance each other, and produce a requisite impartiality.”
With the disappearance of direct taxation as a source of federal revenue, the motive mentioned for understating the population disappeared. On the other hand, the desire for many representatives in Congress has been reinforced by the more influential feelings of local pride and of rivalry with other cities of somewhat similar size. Hence a complaint that the population is overstated is seldom heard, and hence, also, popular charges of an under-count afford little evidence that the population was really larger than stated by the census.
After the detailed tabulation had been completed, it was shown that the number of persons under ten years of age in 1890 was surprisingly small, and that this deficiency in children was a leading cause of the slow growth in population. Before the tabulation had been made Francis A. Walker wrote:—“If the birth-rate among the previously existing population did not suffer a sharp decline ... the census of 1890 cannot be vindicated. To ascertain the facts we must await the tabulation of the population by periods of life, and ascertain how many of the inhabitants of the United States of 1890 were under ten years of age.” These results thus confirmed the accuracy of the count of 1890. Efforts to invalidate the census returns by comparison with the registration records of Massachusetts cannot be deemed conclusive, since in the United States, as in Great Britain, the census must be deemed more accurate and less subject to error than registration records. A strong argument in favour of the eleventh census, apart from its self-consistency, is that its results as a whole fit in with the subsequent state enumerations. In eleven cases such enumerations have been taken; and on computing from them and the results of the federal census of 1880 what the population at the date of the eleventh census should have been, if the annual rate of increase had been uniform, it appears that in no case, except New York City and Oregon, was the difference between the enumerations and these estimates over 4%. In Oregon about 30,000 more people were found in 1890 than the estimate would lead one to expect; in New York city, about 100,000 less. It seems not improbable that in the latter, where the difficulties incident to a count during the summer are almost insurmountable, serious omissions occurred. Still, such a comparison confirms the accuracy of the eleventh census as a whole.
The results of the twelfth census (1900) further refute the argument that would maintain the eleventh census to be inaccurate because it showed a smaller rate of increase in population during the preceding decade than had been recorded by other censuses during earlier decades. The rate of increase during the decade ending in 1900 was even less than that for the preceding decade; and it is impossible that a falling off so marked could in two successive enumerations be the result of sheer inaccuracy. The rate of increase from 1890 to 1900, eliminating from the computation the population of Alaska, Hawaii, Indian Territory and Indian reservations, was 20.7; the rate of increase if these places are included—in which case the figures of the population of Hawaii in 1890 must be taken from the census of the Hawaiian government in that year—was 21%.
The law regulating the twelfth census deserves to rank with those of 1790, 1850 and 1879 as one of the four important laws relative to census work. By this law the census office was far more independent than ever before. Appointments and removals were made by the director of the census rather than by the secretary of the interior, and in all plans for the execution of the law the head of the office was responsible for success. The law divided the subjects of census inquiry into two parts—first, those of primary importance, requiring the aid of the enumerator; and, secondly, those of subsidiary importance, capable of production without the aid of the enumerator. The former had to be finished and published by 1st July 1902; the latter were not to be undertaken until the former were well advanced towards completion. By this means the attention of the office could be concentrated on a small number of subjects rather than distributed over the long list treated in the volumes of the tenth and eleventh censuses.
Under the federal form of government, with its delegation of all residuary powers to the several states, the United States have no system of recording deaths, births and marriages. Hence there is no such basis as exists in nearly every other civilized state for a national system of registration, and the country depends upon the crude method of enumerators’ returns for its information on vital statistics, except in the states and cities which have established a trustworthy registration system of their own. These are the New England states and a few others in their vicinity or influenced by their example. Enumerators’ returns in this field are so incomplete that hardly two-thirds of the deaths which have occurred in any community during the preceding year are obtained by an enumerator visiting the families, no satisfactory basis for the computation of death-rates is afforded, and the returns have comparatively little scientific value. In the regions where census tables and interpretations are derived from registration records kept by the several states or cities they are often made more complete than those in the state or municipal documents. The census of agriculture is also liable to a wide margin of error, owing to defects in farm accounts and the inability of many farmers to state the amount or the value even of the leading crops. The census figures relate to the calendar year preceding 1st June 1900, and hurried and careless answers about the preceding year’s crop are almost sure to have been given by many farmers in the midst of the summer’s work.
The difficulties facing the manufacturing census were of a different character. A large proportion of the industries of the country keep satisfactory accounts, and can answer the questions with some correctness. But manufacturers are likely to suspect the objects of the census, and to fear that the information given will be open to the public or betrayed to competitors. Furthermore, the manufacturing schedule presupposes some uniformity in the method of accounting among different companies or lines of business, and this is often lacking. Another source of error in the manufacturing census of the United States is that the words of the census law are construed as requiring an enumeration of the various trades and handicrafts, such as carpentering. The deficiencies in such returns are gross and notorious, but the census office feels obliged to seek for them and to report what it finds, however incomplete or incorrect the results may be. Even on the population returns certain answers, such as the number of the divorced or the number unable to read and write, may be open to question.
The wide range of the American census, and the publication of uncertain figures, find a justification in the fact that the development of accurate census work requires a long educational process in the office, and, above all, in the community. Rough approximations must always precede accurate measurements; and these returns, while often inaccurate, are better than nothing, and probably improve with each decade.
Besides, the breadth of its scope, in which the American census stands unrivalled, the most important American contribution to census work has been the application of electricity to the tabulation of the results, as was first done in 1890. The main difficulties which this method reduced were two. The production of tables for so enormous a population as that of the United States through the method of tallying by hand requires a great number of clerks and a long period of time, and when complete cannot be verified except by a repetition of the process. The new method abbreviates the time, since an electric current can tally almost simultaneously the data, the tallying of which by hand would be separated by appreciable intervals. The method also renders comparatively easy the verification of the results of certain selected parts.
Judged by European standards the cost of the American census is very great. The following table gives the total and the per capita cost of each enumeration.
For the sake of comparison it may be stated that the per capita cost of the English census of 1901 was 2.24 cents, or little more than one-tenth that of the American census. This difference is due in part to the greater scope and complexity of the American census, and in part to the fact that in the United States the field work is done by well-paid enumerators, while in England it is done in most cases by the heads of families, who are not paid.The course of events has clearly established the fact that the authority of the Federal government in this field is greater than the strict constructionists of a previous generation as represented