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Focus on the Census Bureau and the utility of its Community Survey

It's certainly easy to see that the dynamics of family law are ever-changing across the United States, including in Texas. The longstanding paradigm of the so-called "nuclear family" that so centrally marked and defined American familial units for generations has been greatly modified -- albeit certainly not supplanted -- in recent years by a proliferation of new arrangements.

In other words, it is certainly not singular for a family block in most areas of the country these days to feature, along with that nuclear family, a same-sex couple and a single parent with children. The neighborhood might also house a blended family that has come together following divorce, a grandparent-led family and additional configurations.

Is it valuable for demographers and policy makers to know such things?

Most people would likely say that it is. In fact, a recent media spotlight on the subject of family life across the country references the importance of tracking and analyzing such information in order to craft "evidence-based policies."

Those policies assuredly make sense only when they are aimed at the "real" America, and the above-cited article notes the concerns of many commentators that an accurate portrayal could likely be undermined by a recent development.

That development is the announcement by the U.S. Census Bureau that it might soon stop collecting a wide assortment of family information on the Community Survey it periodically sends to select families across the country.

Although the bureau has voiced its view that the material benefits flowing from such data collection are marginal, many critics disagree.

The debate surrounding the bureau's proposal will likely continue. If the plan is implemented, data collection will be curtailed in a major way within a few short years.

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