Written by: Director Robert Groves
I’ve been getting a few questions about the timing of completing the form. The form asks you to report who’s in your household on April 1, 2010. Our publicity is asking you to fill it out and mail it back as soon as you get the form. A lot of people received their forms between March 15 and March 17.
What’s up with that?
Here’s the logic we’ve used. We know that folks who receive the form and act on it immediately avoid the natural tendency to put it aside on a desk or table and then forget about it. I’m terrible at putting off things that I don’t have to do and then realizing much later that I’ve missed a deadline I really care about. That line of reasoning says fill it out as soon as you open the envelope.
Second, we know that the vast majority of households are pretty stable in their composition. The people who are in the household on March 15, for example, are the same people who will be there on April 1; no one will move into the home in the two week period. Hence, responding early gives us an accurate picture of the household on April 1.
Thus, the general message to fill it out and mail it back when you receive it.
The exceptions to the rule are clearly those households experiencing change. If you know you’re moving to a new house, don’t fill it out before April 1. If you expect new household members by April 1, don’t fill it out before April 1. If you expect any other changes in who lives at your home, wait until April 1 to fill it out.
For all the rest of us, if you’re like me with this disease of procrastination, fill it out and mail it back when you get it.
Please submit any questions pertaining to this post to ask.census.gov