Did you know that no census is ever 100% accurate? It’s more like an educated guess about a country’s population at a specific moment. South Africa just released the results of its latest census, and it turns out they missed a whopping 31% of people! That’s a lot.
The census showed that South Africa’s population has grown to 62 million, and some provinces have become more populous than others. This information helps the government decide how to distribute resources.
But the big shocker from this census is that they missed so many people and households, the highest undercount in post-apartheid times. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher, and it might lead to some puzzling results when analysts dig deeper.
One thing is clear: people are becoming less willing to participate in surveys like the census. So, the big question is, does a traditional fieldwork-based census have a future? Probably not, especially with all the challenges South Africa faced during this census.
That’s where big data comes in. Instead of sending survey-takers to your doorstep, they could use data from government records and even work with private companies to get the information they need. It’s not a magic solution, but it could make future censuses more reliable and save a lot of money.
In the end, South Africa’s census missed a bunch of people for various reasons, like the COVID-19 pandemic and low trust in the government. But the solution might be to embrace big data and bring census-taking into the 21st century. We’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out.