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The commonwealth censuses: partial insights into issues of identity

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Population censuses gather considerable quantities of information on virtually every person within the state. This is converted into statistical tabulations for the use of the government and private individuals. Although most of the questions asked are directed towards specific demographic and economic goals, others are concerned with more contentious issues of identity, most notably ethnicity, religion and language. No standard procedures or classifications of these indicators have been evolved within the Commonwealth, and virtually every country has created its own systems. Thus a series of country specific sets of questions and responses provide significant insights into the identity of the populations of Commonwealth countries, but also require careful interpretation.
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Keywords: census; classification; ethnicity; identity; language; religion; statistics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geosciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, PO Box 77000 Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa

Publication date: July 1, 2013

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