Over the past week, many people have received a letter from the Census Bureau, letting them know that the census form is coming. Plenty of lousy jokes have ensued.
These letters are a criminal waste of resources though, right? Apparently not. Direct from the Census Bureau:
In fact, every one percent increase in the number of households who mail back the form saves the taxpayers about $85 million in expensive door-to-door follow up…We have extensive research that shows additional mailings alerting households to the arrival of the census form increase response rates by about 6 to 12 percentage points.
The savings from that increase more than pay for these mailings. It costs about $85 million to print and mail the advance letter and reminder postcard. The potential increase in response rates demonstrated by our research could result in a savings of more than $500 million.
So, it cost $85 million, but it will save an estimated $500 million (and possibly as much as a billion dollars). That’s pretty good.