Friday, September 2, 2011

Why the census pissed me off

I'm a sociologist, so I'm usually loving the census.  It gives good basic demographics.  But filling in the census this year (and every time) gave me the shits.  It was the "do you do unpaid domestic labour" questions, and how the "care for others" wasn't set up to accurately guage whether that labour was likely to END, or exactly who it was FOR, or if it was for multiple people in your household.

I have a three year old, and wiping her bum and getting her food (etc) is going to finish one day, as she masters doing that herself.  Snail, on the other hand, won't.  But there is nowhere on the form to specify that your 30+ caring hours (the top level given) is for a 12 year old severely disabled child who you care for at your own expense, and at the expense of your own work, study, or whatever, with no government support, tax breaks, or wage.

So how is that going to help the government assign money for services or payments for me, or for Snail?  I'm not sure how they can tease out that those hours aren't for a small child.  I don't think they can.  So I'm invisible, and Snail is invisible, yet again.  



Elizabeth McClung said...

This is the problem, as outlined with Swift's response to the introduction of stats on the Irish with 'A modest Proposal' - without the macro view, or at least a representative of those views crafting how stats are collected, people become invisible. Invisible people exist now just as in Mayhew's London - and it saddens me that you are one of them. Also sad that we haven't learned much in seeing what is around us in the 150 years since his work.

Selene said...

Yes and yes! Totally agree. A little more thought into the macro here would have created a far more flexible instrument. A shame.

Elizabeth said...

So interesting -- I hadn't thought about that in regard to the national census. Now, I'm wondering what sort of questions they ask on ours and can't recall any that had to do with childcare OR disability.