This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Will the Census Bureau Really Kill Off the Statistical Abstract?

There has been a great deal of moaning the past few days about the news from the US Census Bureau that it is thinking of shutting off the US Statistical Abstract, which is one of the most popular items on its already very popular website ( Reuters News Agency summed up the situation:

A cost-cutting plan by the Census Bureau to kill off its U.S. Statistical Abstract was under fire this week from pundits and policy experts who rely on the annual collection of census data.
Published since 1878 and now nearly 1,000 pages, the abstract summarizes key metrics -- some weighty and some just interesting -- on the social, political and economic shape of the United States and beyond.
The bureau said in its fiscal 2012 budget report to Congress that it could save $2.9 million a year by terminating the abstract. It said the move was a "difficult decision." Both the printed and online versions would be discontinued.
Paul Krugman, a columnist for The New York Times who is often at odds with Samuelson on policy issues, in a column on Monday also protested the bureau's judgment.
"The Statistical Abstract is a hugely important resource; experts in a particular field may not need it, but it's invaluable to non-experts," Krugman wrote."Killing the publication for the sake of a tiny saving would be a truly gratuitous step toward a dumbed-down country. And believe me, that's not something we need more of."
The problem, of course, is that Congress is threatening to cut the Census Bureau's budget by 25%. No one can continue to do what they're doing with only 75% of the previous resources. So, the most appropriate response is to contact your Member of Congress and make sure that they understand that cutting the Census Bureau's budget is not good business for America.

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