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7 Problems of Population Census

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Carrying out a national census involves door-to-door interviews and can be an expensive and lengthy process.

Carrying out a national census involves door-to-door interviews and can be an expensive and lengthy process.

Problems of Census

A census is one of the most important things countries must carry out on a regular basis. But sadly, in many parts of the world (especially in developing nations), a lot of problems appear during the census that makes it sometimes difficult to conduct regular censuses or get adequate census figures.

8 Common Problems Countries Face in Conducting a Census

Some of the major problems faced by nations when it comes to conducting a census include the following.

1. Cost of Conducting Census

One of the biggest challenges associated with conducting a census in poor countries is the enormous financial costs of conducting the exercise. It is no secret that it is very expensive to conduct a census. Even in developed nations, the costs involved in conducting censuses can be quite overwhelming.

For many nations, taking huge amounts of money out of their limited resources to conduct a census can be very challenging. As a result, many countries cannot carry out censuses on a regular basis or in an efficient manner.

2. High Illiteracy Rate in a Nation Has a Negative Impact on the Conducting of Census

Numerous studies have shown that countries with very high illiteracy rates find it more difficult to undertake an efficient population census than countries with high literacy rates.

For example, in certain remote parts of the world where illiteracy rates are extremely high, many people tend to run away from census officials when they arrive to count them. As a result of illiteracy, many of these people feel that it is taboo to count human beings.

Sometimes they also feel that the government uses counting of people as a strategy to raise the taxes of households. Therefore, they give wrong information to the census officials or run away from their villages when these census officials come to count them. This often translates to inaccurate population figures.

3. Inadequate Infrastructural Facilities in Certain Areas

There are certain places where it is challenging to undertake an efficient population census because of poor infrastructural facilities such as bad roads, inaccessible roads, or insufficient roads that connect various towns and villages. There are certain very remote places where the only available medium of transportation is by foot.

In light of this, many census officials can’t reach these very remote and inaccessible places to count the people and therefore make estimations as to the number of people living in such areas. The end result is inadequate population figures after the census.

4. Traditional and Religious Beliefs Can Interfere With the Census Exercise

In many parts of the world where traditional beliefs are the order of the day, census officers face serious challenges when they reach these places and try counting the people. Most people in such areas deliberately decide not to make themselves available to be counted because of their strong traditional beliefs. Some of these traditional beliefs consider it an abomination to count people while they are still alive.

According to these beliefs, anybody who gets counted exposes themself to suffering from all sorts of ill fortunes, which can range from ailments to even death. Some traditional believers also consider it taboo to let women count men. Therefore, they don’t make themselves available to be counted by the female census officers sent by the government to their villages.

5. Corruption Interferes With Census

Corruption during census-taking can make it difficult to determine accurate population figures.

Over the years, there have been countless stories of corrupt census officials collecting monies needed for conducting census but pocketing these monies and sitting in their offices while writing down imaginary population statistics of villages and towns without actually having visited these places. This automatically leads to inaccurate population data for a country.

Also, in countries where population sizes determine how much money the central government releases to a state or province, corruption can easily overtake the census-taking process and make states exaggerate their population sizes to get a bigger share of funds during the central government’s distribution of funds. Corruption is one of the biggest reasons certain countries find it very difficult to conduct successful censuses and obtain reliable population data.

6. Insufficient Census Experts

Another problem associated with conducting censuses in certain parts of the world is the insufficient number of professionals with the knowledge and experience of conducting a census. More often than not, governments of underdeveloped countries don’t have sufficient experienced census officers, demographers, and population experts to effectively handle the task of conducting a population census.

As a result of this, these countries end up using inexperienced census officers to do the job. The end result of using people who are not experts to conduct an important exercise like the census is an efficient census that provides inaccurate population figures.

7. Insufficient and Ineffective Census Educational Campaign

How effective an educational campaign on the census is prior to the census taking place determines how successful the census exercise eventually becomes. Many times, certain countries cannot get accurate population figures through population censuses simply because intensive and effective educational campaigns on the importance of the census to the nation weren’t done before the census exercises.

When people become aware of the importance of the census, they are encouraged to make themselves available to be counted and cooperate with census officers to ensure a smooth census exercise that provides accurate population figures for the country.

8. Poor Demographic Maps

Because of demographic maps that aren’t reliable, it becomes very difficult for the authorities to know all the remote areas (especially the very remote areas) and conduct the census exercise. The problem with unreliable or poor demographic maps is that it results in some extremely remote villages not appearing on the maps. Such areas, therefore, end up not being visited by census officials.

Costs Continue to Be the Biggest Problem Associated With the Census

The above-mentioned issues are the most common reasons why certain countries (usually underdeveloped countries) cannot obtain accurate population census figures. Of all the above reasons, the massive costs involved in carrying out a census happen to be the biggest challenge that nations across the world have to battle. Due to their very weak economies, many developing nations struggle to get adequate funds to purchase inputs or logistics for a smooth census exercise. As a result, these countries find it very challenging to conduct successful censuses.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.