Official statistics reflect the presuppositions and theories of the societies that they represent. Results derived from data contained in a set of tax declarations from fifteenth-century rural Tuscany show that deaths of males eligible for the head tax were reported more often than deaths of other family members, because these reports lowered households' tax assessments. The results also show that heads of households were overrepresented among dead males, most likely because tax officials used the names of heads of households to organize the tax rolls. This reliance on the head of the household in data collection—a common technique in contemporary and historical censuses—may produce results that overrepresent heads of households.

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