The Census in Afghanistan

Conducting a census is a challenge for any government, but imagine how those challenges are multiplied as the current government in Afghanistan makes a new effort to conduct a national census. It’s not just the continued threat of violence in some areas: “Many people lack surnames, most do not know their birthday, and Afghan women generally will not speak if their husbands are out.”

The census director expects it to take five years to reach 70 percent of the population. You can read more about this effort in a New York Times article at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/11/world/asia/for-afghans-name-and-birthdate-census-questions-are-not-so-simple.html.

How do these cultural problems compare to the physical problems encountered in the earlier Afghan census effort described on page 156 of Investigating the Social World? What about the problems in the Russian and Iraqi census efforts discussed on the same page? Based on the details provided in the sampling chapter on the U.S. Census effort, to what extent do you think the U.S. government has overcome these problems?

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