Census and COVID-19

Population data is a must as it has vital statistic, economic, and administrative uses
A man wearing a face mask amid COVID-19 pandemic in Srinagar. [Representational Picture]
A man wearing a face mask amid COVID-19 pandemic in Srinagar. [Representational Picture]Mubashir Khan/GK File

Countries like India, where Civil Registration System (CRS) and Vital Statistics System are unsystematic in nature, census data has a very big advantage. Civil Registration System is a unified process of continuous, permanent and compulsory registration of vital events such as deaths and births.

To reduce the impact of shocks and disturbances in the economy, it is very important to collect the three vital sources of population data viz. (1) Population Census (2) Registration of Vital Events (3) Samples Surveys, effectively.

And for a country like India which is overpopulated and underdeveloped, the requirement of an effective source of population data is a must as it has vital statistical, economic, and administrative uses.

As the COVID-19 world struggles with the spread of coronavirus, countries must address the nature, causes, and consequences of this virus in the first place and the implications of it on preparations and effective implementation of population census. It is the most fundamental source of data for the study of population.

Talking about population census, it is the vital source of basic national population data required for different administrative purposes and for different aspects of social and economic planning and research. Such data sources are highly useful for analytical part, especially in countries where vital registration data sources or statistics are inadequate and inaccurate.

It also contributes to our knowledge of the country’s industrial and occupational composition changes. Furthermore, it contributes to our literacy levels and educational attainments. In addition, we find a positive contribution to our levels of living and other socio-cultural attributes such as languages and religions.

It provides a sound base for drawing up samples for various kinds of surveys and in this manner it is a vital raw material and input for various surveys and sectors.

COVID-19 has threatened the effective conduct of census in the world through delays and breaks that reduce the data quality and offers of Census research and planning projects. Census funds seem to be diverted leaving it without important funding for development purposes. Several countries have already taken initiatives to delay the census and many other countries are yet to announce the delay proceedings.

Even if there are cancellations and delays on the part of governments with regard to census conduct, there is a need of a global drive to make it sure that census importance is not overlooked and census planning is not cancelled.

This will have a dual effect: On one hand, it will assure that census implementation can take place smoothly once the normalcy is restored or COVID-19 is controlled to good extent, and on the another hand, it will be extremely useful for national, local, public, and private planning and economic development.

International data and planning organisations should tremendously support governments at all levels with contingency planning. Such organisations of international repute must continue to provide sound technical assistance and census capacity strengthening.

Moreover, for census capacity consolidation, workshops must be encouraged. Furthermore, global organisations in general and government bodies in particular must advocate for the need and importance of census for economic development and for any shock preparedness and response (particularly COVID-19).

In fact, the very basic purpose of a census in modern times is to produce sound statistical data on different population aspects such as trends in population growth, changes in the age and sex structure of the population, mortality and fertility course, migration, social mobility, urbanisation etc.

Hence, census is an extremely useful source of knowledge and has definitely made a revolutionary expansion in global economic, social and demographic knowledge.

Dr. Binish Qadri Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Kashmir.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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