What Is a Census World History?

A census is a method of collecting information about a population. It is usually conducted by the government and aims to gather data about the number of people living in a particular area, as well as their characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity, and occupation.

History of Census

Censuses have been conducted throughout history by various civilizations. The first recorded census was in ancient Babylon in 3800 BC. In ancient Rome, censuses were taken every five years to determine the number of citizens and their property for taxation purposes.

During the Middle Ages, censuses were conducted for military purposes. In England, for example, William the Conqueror ordered the Domesday Book to be compiled in 1086 to assess landowners’ wealth for tax purposes.

Purpose of Census

The primary purpose of a census is to obtain information about a population that can be used for various purposes. One of the most common reasons is to determine how many representatives each state will have in Congress. Censuses are also used to allocate resources and plan public services such as schools, hospitals, and transportation systems.

Types of Census

There are two types of censuses: de facto and de jure. A de facto census counts people where they are currently residing on census day. A de jure census counts people where they usually reside or consider their permanent home.

Census Controversies

Despite its importance, censuses have been subject to controversy throughout history. Some groups have objected to certain questions on religious or privacy grounds. Others have boycotted or refused to participate in censuses due to political or social reasons.

In recent years, there has been concern about the accuracy of censuses due to undercounting certain populations such as minorities or immigrants who may be hesitant to participate.


In conclusion, a census is an essential tool for governments to gather information about their population. It has a long history and has evolved over time to meet the needs of societies. Despite controversies, censuses remain crucial in determining resource allocation and planning public services.