POSTS BY Susan Rose-Ackerman

The Census in the USA and Germany: It’s all about sampling

In Germany disputes over the 2011 census have finally come to an end in the “census judgment” by the Bundesverfassungsgericht. In the United States of America, in turn, disputes over the 2020 Census questionnaire are currently before the federal courts that raise related issues of the accuracy of the count. In contrast to the German Grundgesetz, the U.S. constitution requires a census every ten years to determine representation in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. Accurate population data are the underlying goal of the Constitution’s decennial census requirement. We argue that in the twenty-first century accuracy requires modern statistical techniques, including sampling and adequate pre-testing of questions.

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Beyond Electoral Mandates—Oversight and Public Participation

Those who win elections want to remain in power after the next election. They have an incentive to undermine the credibility of the opposition and to use the tools of political power to do so. Incumbents who aggrandize power and demonize opponents can produce situations where office holders are less and less threatened by credible organized opponents. The opposition, in turn, seeks to gain power not only by espousing alternative policies but also by questioning the integrity and competence of incumbents.

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