The American family: repercussions of curtailed info gathering, Part 2

We noted in our immediately preceding blog post (please see our January 6 entry) the recent news that the U.S. Census Bureau might stop soliciting some family-related information that it currently collects in its nationally distributed Community Survey.

As we pointed out in that post, myriad critics have emerged to call into question the wisdom of any such plan. We summarized the central concerns of various individuals and groups opposed to the curtailment of family data by noting their fear that “much relevant information begins to lack when central data sources wither or dry up altogether.”

There is no question that the survey is a central data source. A recent media article discussing data collection on marriage and divorce calls the survey “the most accurate and current source” of such information.

In today’s post, we add a few detailed points to the summary information on the survey that we provided to our readers in Georgia and elsewhere last week.

An initial point to note is that groups spanning a wide spectrum of interests oppose any material curb being placed on data gathering. The consensus view being strongly presented is that the information is widely useful across many fronts.

One expressed concern, for example, is with the underreporting of family data at the state level. As a Pew Research Center writer points out, many states don’t report any divorce information. That leaves the survey as the principal repository for data that helps to flesh out important family trends. Knowing such information can, in turn, help policy makers focus more purposefully on social and fiscal agendas cutting across many programs.

Another commentator notes, for example, that having accurate family information will help guide legislators and regulators seeking to logically and equitably administer important benefit programs, such as Social Security.

“What happens in the family doesn’t stay in the family,” says one critic opposing bureau change to the survey. He notes that it is necessary to track family data because “it reverberates and ripples across the entire society.”

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