In more modern times the need for a population census has moved away from a requirement to identify and even control particular individuals to become a complete enumeration of all people and their important characteristics for information regarding the structure and trends in society.
The mechanisms used in modern Census taking have also developed slowly and are still constantly evolving. Three parallel developments are accredited with the current census procedures that are commonly used by the majority of the worlds countries:
The first Census embodying some of these modern principles occurred in Quebec and Nova Scotia in 1665, with a further 16 taking place between then and 1754. Iceland followed in 1703, Germany in 1742 and Sweden in 1749. While several British North American colonies had made full enumerations, the first United States census was delayed until 1790 because of religious opposition. People feared that a census might incur the wrath of God because a census of the Israelites ordered by King David was followed by a plague which killed 70,000 people. This census made history in both the size of the area enumerated and the effort to obtain data on characteristics of the population but also because of the political purpose for which it was undertaken - namely, representation in Congress on the basis of population.
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