A population census is the head-count of people living within a particular region or country. It is the process by which the number of people living within a country or region is counted. It is mostly held every ten years.
IMPORTANCE OF POPULATION CENSUS
1) It helps to determine the size and rate of growth of the population. Government relies on the outcome of population census to determine if the existing facilities are enough such as schools, hospitals, housing, recreational facilities etc.
2) Result of population census gives government statistical data to work on in determining whether to establish a new state or local government authority.
3) Government can use the result in sharing allocations to different constituents of the country. A region with a large population concentration requires more funding. In Nigeria, areas such as Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt requires more funding.
4) Investors can decide on which part of the country should it direct investment. A region with a large population means big market and quick returns on investment.
5) The knowledge of population size is used in calculating the per capita income of a country. Per capita is derived by dividing the national income of a country by the total population.
6) It is used in formulating immigration policy of a country. A country with a high population will discourage immigration while a country with a small population size can encourage immigration if it has facilities for it.
7) It allows government to know if it has over-population, under-population or optimum population. Whatever the result, government can take appropriate action in controlling it population growth.
PROBLEMS OF CENSUS
1) High Cost of Conducting Census: It is expensive to carryout the exercise especially in a big country like Nigeria, India and China. Due to high cost, poor nations find it difficult to carry out census.
2) Shortage of Enumeration Personnel: Census exercise requires lots of personnel to carry out the exercise and they are in short supply especially in developing countries. Census body will rather recruit workers for that purpose with little or no training. The outcome of the census may be misleading because it was handled by unqualified personnel.
3) Prohibitive Customary and Religious Believe: For example, some Muslim women are not allowed to move freely and census enumerators will not have access to count them.
4) Inaccessibility to Remote Areas: This is mostly the case in some large developing countries with poor road network. Census enumerators may not be able to access some location.
5) Economic Benefits and Political Problem: In a country like Nigeria, where federal allocation is based on population figures. Politicians do influence figures of their regions for favorable allocation. As a result, census results are inaccurate.
6) Superstition: Some customary belief held that counting children may bring ill-luck to the family or children may die. Therefore, they give false information.
7) Poor Town Planning: It will be difficult to access communities that are not well planned. In some areas, houses are not numbered or poorly numbered. In a situation like this, some household will be omitted.