Projections vs Censuses: a brief note on their political impact.

Destacado

Byron Villacís

Contemporary public administrations seem to surrender to the need to digitize as much as possible1. Nowadays, it appears to be a desirable transformation: less paper, more automation, increased efficiency, and less time spent on paperwork that governments sometimes overwhelm us with. However, this tendency also has unintended consequences with political, economic, and social effects. We need to stop and evaluate all the costs and benefits of digitization and bureaucratic automation. In this post, I briefly exemplify the differences that can appear if we minimize the importance of a logistical operation such as the population census and we fall in the overconfidence of trusting population projections.

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Do we need a census in the middle of a pandemic?

Gabriel Borges, OLAC

Censuses have been delayed, interrupted or cancelled in many countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only a few countries conducted them in 2020. The censuses in the United States and in Mexico had already started when those countries were hit by the pandemic, and they made what seemed to be the most sensible decision: continue the census, with a few last-minute adjustments, mainly to protect the health and safety of the National Statistical Offices staff and the public.

Impact on field-based enumeration – Censuses scheduled in year 2020
Source: United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD)

Countries that were planning to conduct their censuses in late 2020 had to cancel or postpone them. Brazil and Ecuador, for instance, postponed their censuses and are now faced with adversities to take them in 2021, both because of the out of control situation of the pandemic, and the difficulties to get the census budged.

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La pandemia y los censos de cuatro sistemas estadísticos

Byron Villacís

La pandemia dejó un escenario de incertidumbre para los sistemas estadísticos latinoamericanos; las suertes y destinos se configuran distintas, sus debilitamientos o fortalecimientos han dependido –predeciblemente– de contextos y fuerzas locales. El problema de este escenario es que el arribo de la pandemia no tomó a los sistemas estadísticos en un momento cualquiera, lo hizo justo en el más delicado: en plena ronda censal, cuando los institutos estaban ejecutando o planificando sus censos poblacionales versión 2020. Es por esta razón que, enfatizar en la necesidad de analizar países por separado, se vuelve urgente y necesario. Cito en este corto post una breve interpretación de la situación de cuatro sistemas estadísticos en relación a su censo de población con suertes distintas para resaltar –como argumento central– la exigencia de particularizar análisis antes de entender la realidad latinoamericana como un conjunto promediable y superficialmente comparable.

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