August 01, 2013

The 2012 Bolivian Census


The 2012 Bolivian census` official and final results were presented on July 31, 2013. Though, an endeavour that was supposed to be carried out, in accordance to the law, every 10 years (the last census was in 2001), the census was nevertheless carried out, albeit with delay. In charge of the process was the National Institute of Statistics (Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas, INE). The final report can be downloaded in this link.

With delay, as well, were the final results presented. The INE had expressed beginning 2013 its desire to present the final results as soon as possible. However, as soon as possible can hardly be considered seven months into the new year. But, that is just my opinion.

The results were received with much criticism. The most headlines triggered the fact that the total population number was reduced by more than 300 thousand inhabitants from a preliminary estimate released earlier this year. The minister responsible for the census (Minister of Planning, Viviana Caro) said that such things happen in census processes and that the government did not want to subject the process to an audit.

Now I am no expert on census data, but I do think that to be off by 300 thousand inhabitants in a country of 10 million people is something odd. To this I have to add my own impression that the work done in this particular census has not been the best INE has done. The quality of the data presented, so far, has left lots to be desired from. It began with the conscious neglect of not wanting to include an alternative answer to the question of ethnicity for those people who did not consider themselves indigenous or of indigenous origin. It ended on the form of presentation whereby some tables are mislabeled and others are very hard to understand. The INE has done a much better job in the past. I have to remember 2001 as I write these lines.

Santa Cruz, in particular, is most unhappy with the new "revised" results because it lost its first place to La Paz as the most populous city in Bolivia. That lost is most likely to affect how much money the department and the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra will get from the State and how many congressional seats in the national assembly with the region get.

Other interesting facts coming out of the report is the fact that literacy has surpassed the 90 per cent mark. That means that over 90 per cent of Bolivians know, at least, how to write their name and can read at basic level. Isn't that great?