Where Are Our Kids? The Undercount of Children in the Latin American Censuses*

Gabriel Borges, OLAC


Population and Housing Censuses are designed to cover the entire population in a country, though under-enumeration is a recurrent problem in most censuses. This is not a random problem and affects peculiarly especial groups such as children. Somehow surprisingly, undercount of children has happened in all sorts of population censuses, regardless census design, cultural and socioeconomic characteristics of the country. Despite the wide-ranging acknowledgement of this issue, little is known about its causes and no effective alternatives have been proposed to addressed it. Furthermore, there is a lack of comprehensive studies that measure the magnitude of this problem for a large number of countries and across time. This study seeks to fill these gaps by estimating the undercount of children for all Latin American censuses since the 1950 round, discussing the possible reasons for such a phenomenon and proposing changes in the training and in the questionnaire design for the next round of census in the region.

A subenumeração de crianças nos censos latino-americanos


Censos populacionais são desenhados para cobrir a totalidade da população de um país. Contudo, subenumeração é um problema recorrente nos censos, e afeta mais alguns grupos populacionais específicos, como crianças. A subenumeração tem sido, de certa forma surpreendentemente, um problema que ocorre em diversos censos, independentemente do desenho do censo e de características culturais e socioeconômicas do país onde ele é realizado. Apesar do amplo conhecimento deste problema, pouco se sabe sobre suas causas e nenhuma medida efetiva tem sido adotada para solucioná-lo. Além disso, faltam estudos abrangentes que mensurem sua magnitude para um grande número de países e ao longo do tempo. Este trabalho se propõe a preencher estas lacunas ao estimar a subenumeração de crianças em todos os censos latino-americanos desde a rodada de 1950, discutindo as possíveis causas deste fenômeno e propondo mudanças no treinamento e no desenho do questionário para a próxima rodada de censos na região.

La subenumeración de niños en los censos latino-americanos


Los censos de población son diseñados para cubrir a toda la población de un país. Sin embargo, la subenumeración es un problema recurrente en los censos, que afecta más a algunos grupos de población específicos, por ejemplo el de los niños. La subenumeración ha sido, de cierta forma sorprendentemente, un problema que ocurre en diversos censos, independientemente del diseño del censo y de características culturales y socioeconómicas del país donde se lo realiza. A pesar del amplio conocimiento de este problema, poco se sabe sobre sus causas y ninguna medida efectiva ha sido adoptada para solucionarlo. Además, faltan estudios exhaustivos que miden su magnitud para un gran número de países y un largo periodo de tiempo. Este trabajo se propone llenar estos vacíos al estimar la subenumeración de niños en todos los censos latinoamericanos desde la ronda de 1950, discutiendo las posibles causas de este fenómeno y proponiendo cambios en la capacitación y en el diseño del cuestionario para la próxima ronda de censos en la región.

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Census limits: a reference to marginal populations

Marden Campos, OLAC

When we think about undercount problems in the census, we usually refer to individuals who could not be reached by the interviewers, either because their homes were not found or because, despite finding their residences, the interviews could not be conducted. Another common undercount case takes place when some individuals are forgotten by the informant, usually children, elderly and disabled people.

Nevertheless, a kind of phenomenon that affects significantly the census coverage is the failure to consider certain types of individuals as residents of the households. We consider these individuals as “marginal cases”, as they depart from the concept of “typical citizen” that the census is expecting to find. Examples of such individuals arimagesme some indigenous peoples, homeless, undocumented migrants or the gypsies, a typical itinerant  people with “inaccurate” residence condition.

During the design of the census operations such groups are often treated as marginal cases, which would not affect the census operation. This situation restrict some types of analysis based on census data though, as I will try to discuss throughout the text. Sigue leyendo