The census only serves to perpetuate the illusion that central planning is possible

It is very welcome news that the government is planning to scrap the census from 2021. Indeed, you might have first seen this suggestion on the IEA blog last February.

It has been suggested that the census will be replaced by the use of other data, survey evidence and so on. If we must collect data about the population as a whole, our sexual habits, the number of rooms in our houses and so on, then this is certainly a better way to collect it than a nationwide census. The last census seemed to be a complete shambles with incomplete data, a high level of non-returns, and so on, on a huge scale. At £0.5 billion, this shambles does not come cheaply.

So, given that abolishing the census will save a huge sum of money, the government should reconsider whether it can still call a halt to the 2011 census which it is still planning to undertake. However, more important than all this is that the central planning mentality that lies behind the census – and the collection of other official statistics – goes too…


Read the rest of the article on ConservativeHome.

Agreed, on both counts: a national census is an expensive way of collecting inaccurate and not very useful aggregates; and it is not too late to stop the census scheduled for next year. (Carrying on is reminiscent of the then Conservative opposition’s jibe that the then Labour government planned to go on wasting money for many more months.)We should remember the splendid example of Sir John Cowperthwaite, the post-war Financial Secretary in Hong Kong, who opposed the collection of ‘national income’ statistics in that colony, on the grounds that it would only encourage the government to interfere.

[...] Institute for Economic Affairs: The census only serves to perpetuate the illusion that central planning is possible [...]

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