View Full Version : Census start well before 1841

17-Mar-11, 16:07
Census dates back to bible times and the birth of Jesus

WHILE officially, the census, an every decade blueprint aimed at determining the country’s shape and needs, was started in 1841. However, it actually dates back a lot further...to 8 BC in fact, writes Noel Donaldson.
In the month of March, coincidently, Caesar Augustus decreed that all inhabitants of the Roman empire should be numbered. However, it had little or nothing to do with their future welfare and its primary purpose was, yes....money!. A census was a way of implementing a better taxation system.
The Jews had always been greatly prejudiced against any attempt to number the people, and this, along with the serious domestic difficulties experienced by Herod, King of Judea, resulted in the census in the Jewish kingdom, being postponed for a year.
Joseph was authorised to register for his family, but Mary, being an adventurous and aggressive person, insisted on accompanying him. She feared being left alone, lest her child (Jesus) was born while Joseph was away.
Of course, there was no need for enumerators and a stacks of paperwork as Mohammed had to go to the mountain...subjects had to travel to specific centres, in Joseph’s case, Bethlehem. Food was packed for three days and accompanied by Mary, “heavy with child”, and seated on a donkey, Joseph set out from Nazereth, at the break of day. The rest, as they say, is history...no room at the Inn, resulting in Christ being born in a stable.
Imagine, the chaos, if we all had to report to our places of birth, the current census. Presumably we would have been making the journey by something a sight more powerful than donkey-power. It would have re-drawn the population map, temporarily, and given many purveyors of food and drink and accommodation agencies, not to mention the various transport agencies, a boost. I suppose that one consolation would have been that any pregnant women would have travelled in a sight more comfort than Mary did, and would have been assured of a soft bed and an expert delivery, if necessary, on the way, or at journey’s end.
So, maybe filling out a questionnaire, is not such an onerous task. Scotland’s biggest population survey will take place this month, on Sunday 27th March. From March 7th questionnaires have been delivered to all of the country’s 2.5 million households and work is underway in Highland to ensure that everyone is counted.
This week, with the appointment of the Census enumerators, sees the completion of the full team of 249 census staff who will be working throughout the Highland region to ensure the full completion of the 2011 census.
Census Regional Manager, Vanessa Halhead, said: “This is an exciting moment when our work steps up a gear, in preparation for census day. The national census is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to record Scotland’s population. This provides invaluable information to shape the policies of central and local government and plan how billions of pounds worth of public services, such as health and housing, are delivered.”
The Highland Council Convener, Sandy Park, supports the vital importance of the census. He said: “The census makes sure we have real detail about our households and lives. As our communities become more diverse and we all live longer, this detail is crucial to getting the planning right for everyone in the area. It is very important that everyone is counted in the census because the results help us to assess the demand for services across the Highlands. In these times when every penny counts, it’s more important than ever that spending decisions are based on good information.”
The census asks the same questions of us all, about our circumstances such as: age, health, accommodation, education, occupation, nationality, language. From these questions decisions can be made about the support needs of, for instance, the elderly, disabled, unemployed or ethnic minorities.
There are five new questions in the 2011 census. These are: long-term health conditions, national identity, month/year of arrival in the UK and two new questions on language.
Given its vital importance, participation in the census is compulsory and all questions must be answered – apart from the question about religion, which is voluntary.
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While personal details from the census are safeguarded by law and kept confidential for 100 years, the anonymous (personal details removed) statistical results will play a vital role in helping shape the future of the Highlands. The Census team are keen to let people know that assistance is available for anyone who needs it. This can be accessed directly from the census staff on the doorstep, from the Census Helpline on 0300 123 1702 (from March 7th), or online at www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk (http://www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk/)