Migrant population creates challenges for census

08:22, July 26, 2010      

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Despite its huge budget and importance to the nation, China's 6th National Census is already drawing criticism for its supposed inability to get the job done properly, some 100 days before the count kicks off.

The census will begin November 1 and cost between 8 billion yuan ($1.2 billion) to 10 billion yuan, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

More than 6.5 million census takers are being recruited, most of whom are local residents, or neighborhood and village committee workers, the bureau said in a statement.

However, the accuracy of the data from the census is being challenged due to migration, or concealed baby births.

"What influence will the statistics, obtained at a huge cost, have on the nation's development and people's daily life? How to ensure the statistics' accuracy and authenticity?" Wang Jiesheng, a Beijing resident, told the Global Times.

The number of floating population increased by 50 million since 2000, the previous census.

"The floating population has doubled from 10 years ago in Beijing. They don't have stable work or home, so it is not easy to get an accurate number," Gu Yanzhou, deputy director of the Beijing Statistics Bureau, told the Outlook Weekly.

He added that in some large cities like Beijing and Shanghai, over 50 percent of people are migrants and they are easily missed in the census count.

The main difficulty will come from residents who feel a need to protect their privacy.

The expanded census will ask for private information such as nationality, education, marital status, death and housing, Lu Jiehua, professor of sociology from Peking University, told the Global Times Sunday.

"Workers will record the number of bedrooms and even toilets. To protect their personal or family's privacy, some residents are not willing to tell the truth, especially in affluent residential communities," Lu said.

"I want to emphasize that it is not so optimistic they will get an accurate number, but we should try our best to make object analysis based on the data we get," Lu said.

Lu said it's crucial to boost the public campaign to allow the public to learn the importance of the census.

China holds a national census every 10 years. The population is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2015, up from 1.29 billion since 2000.

Foreigners living and working in China will be counted for the first time.

Source:Global Times


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