Completing a census form is required by law, but census takers haven’t been able to get any information from more than 500,000 U.S. households this year. While census evaders theoretically can be fined up to $5,000, in practice they are rarely penalized-none were in 2010 or in 2000-for fear of creating a public backlash.
Instead, the Census Bureau combines threats of penalties with painstaking follow-up over the phone and in person, including interviews with neighbors of nonresponding households. But as the 2010 U.S. decennial census winds down, a number of critics say even more reliable demographic data could be obtained at far less cost, the Wall Street Journal reports.
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