Census without questions about ethnicity and religion

The questions of ethnic and religious affiliation to be excluded from the census that should be conducted in April 2020, the State Statistical Office proposes. The definitive decision on this issue will have to be made with the Census Law expected no later than February next year. The purpose of the proposal is to avoid questions that are sensitive and personal, and on the other hand have no useful value other than political, considers the Statistical Office. This is a practice in many countries in the world, as well as Europe, including multiethnic countries such as Switzerland or Belgium.

This is the first census of the population and households that will be carried out since 2002, ie after 18 years, after the procedure was terminated in 2011 and it was not brought to an end. That put Macedonia in a unique position in the world, accompanied only by Somalia. The disadvantage of this type of statistics over the years has raised many questions about the size of the population and ethnic communities, the magnitude of migration processes and the election turnout.
“The census data serves exclusively to give a complete picture of the population and habitats that can then be implemented with international databases and based on them to create sustainable policies in the country,” said international expert for population and census Werner Haug.

Questions about each citizen’s native tongue and the language spoken in the family remain in the content of census questions, among others. According to them, policies in education should be created, and they can also serve to establish the rights that the ethnic community exercises, which is more than 20% of the population in some local self-governments.

Counting the inhabitants of Macedonia in the census in 2020 will be done according to the strictly defined United Nations recommendations that apply everywhere in the world. According to the director of the Institute, Apostol Simovski, the citizens of Macedonia who live in the country will be recorded, also those who have lived abroad for less than a year, as well as foreigners who live in our country for more than a year.

“Self-reporting will be organized for all those who live outside the country, no matter how long. For them, a web application will be prepared as an abbreviated form of the census questionnaire,” said Simovski.

This census will be the first to be implemented as a combined method of traditional face-to-face census and the use of data from various registries, more precisely data held by the ministries of internal affairs, labor and social work, education, health, and other institutions such as the Cadastre, the Employment Agency, PIOM and others. The old census sheets will be abandoned and laptops will be used for this purpose, from where the data will be entered directly into the database, so the possible misuse of personal data will be avoided. A trial census will be conducted next year in April in eight municipalities, one in all regions, half of which will be urban and half rural.

“8.5 million euros are planned for the population census, of which 3.5 million will be used for the preparation of the application and the trial census, as well as for the procurement of the necessary technology. The remaining 5 million euros are intended for the census in 2020, and the largest part will be for the employed enumerators,” explained Simovski.

Sanja Naumovska