Between technological advances and attacks to basic rights: on the consequences of improvised digitization of population censuses

Insights from the roundtable: “Challenges of the 2020 census round in Latin America”- XXII National Meeting of the Brazilian Association of Population Studies.

Byron Villacis
November 2022

COVID-19 provoked increasing pressure to adopt technological advances in population censuses. In some cases, preliminary evaluations show that the adoptions were not sufficiently justified and had unintended consequences. Particularly in segments of the Global South, Statistical Offices (SOs) adopted innovations as a consequence of (1) a rush to produce population data immediately after the pandemic, (2) transnational pressures to adopt global trends, (3) overestimated effects of monetary savings to accommodate SOs to austerity tensions, and (4) the necessity to adopt standardized models of censuses to produce data for markets instead of data for development. The adoption of technological advances happened amid an institutional transition. In the last two decades, SOs have shifted the census goals from coverage and quality to an array of organizational and relational markers.

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