Figure 2-1 Basic residence question (Question 1), 2000 census questionnaire

MAF and geographic reference database, which we discuss in greater detail in Section 8–A.

  • Despite their name, the residence rules are not rules in any legal or regulatory sense. Residence rules are not written into census law; indeed, as we discuss below, not even the term “usual residence” (much less its definition) is written into active census law. Rather, the residence rules are guidelines, internal to the Census Bureau, on how certain living situations should be handled in terms of defining “usual residence.”

Historical Development

While the U.S. Constitution specifies that a census be conducted every 10 years for the purpose of reapportioning the U.S. House of Representatives, it offers no further guidance on exactly how the count is to be performed.2 The first U.S. Congress faced the practical problem of performing a count through the Act of March 1, 1790. That act authorized marshals to carry out


Clemence (1987:16–17) summarizes the evolution of the Constitution’s census clause from its first draft (apportioning by “the quotas of contribution or the number of free inhabitants, [as] may seem best in different cases”) through several revisions, including one, and only one, instance where “citizens” were distinguished from inhabitants or residents.

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