A population and housing census started in Romania on February 1st under the slogan "Person by person, house by house". A major event held every ten years, the process is not uncommon in the European Union. Quite the opposite. Since 2021, similar censuses have taken place in all Member States, with the aim of drawing up an accurate image of the situation, not only at country level but also at the level of the EU.
In Romania, the first stage, covering the period February 1 - March 13, is about logistics. Data are taken from administrative sources and the database necessary for a good conduct of the census is to be created and fed. The second, self-review stage will take place between March 14 and May 15, followed by the third one, between May 16 and July 17. This is the stage where 25 thousand reviewers will conduct face to face interviews across the country.
As a first for Romanian statistics, data collection and processing will be digitalized. Cătălin Raiu, the Communication Director of the National Institute of Statistics has the details:
"For the first time in Romania, as in other states of the European Union, we are facing an ambitious task, that of having a digitalized census. So, for the first time in Romania, we will use two digital processes that replace the famous paper form that people or the reviewers had to fill in while talking to people. So, this time we will have a self-review stage, and people will receive a link to the questionnaire where they can fill in the required data themselves. The face to face interview stage will also rely on a digital device, the tablet. In other words, the reviewer visits people's homes and records their answers directly on the tablet. The data already entered by self-review or by the reviewer is fed directly into the database and from there it is processed further. Romanians who will opt for self-review will be able to fill in the form on any smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer. The questionnaire will be available in Romanian and the national minority languages, as well as in English. However, those who do not have enough knowledge to deal with modern technology will be helped by people designated for this purpose at the level of town halls. It should also be noted that employees who resort to self-review will be entitled to a day off from work. On the other hand, those who refuse to take part in the census may be fined. However, the authorities do not rely on coercion, but, on the contrary, on a positive approach to this civic action. We expect some 35% of the population to resort to the self-review option."
But what is this census about? Cătălin Rai explains:
"The census, by definition, not only in our country, but also elsewhere, records the resident population, i.e. the population that is on the territory of a state and intends to remain within the borders of that territory for a period of 12 months. This is the Eurostat methodology, decided at the level of the European Union, and it cannot be changed. So, following this census, we will find out the number of people residing in Romania, regardless of citizenship or ethnicity. At the moment, the National Institute of Statistics estimates that there are some 3.3 - 3.4 million Romanians living abroad. With this census, which, as I said, is conducted almost simultaneously and based on an identical methodology across the entire European Union, Romania can find out how many Romanians are currently in the member countries of the Union through the censuses organized in each country. In other words, we can know how many Romanians are outside the country's borders insofar as we cooperate, collaborate and receive information from the national statistical institutes in those countries."
Romanians who reside less than 12 months in a foreign country can fill in the Romanian form, while those who exceed 12 months of stay abroad can fill in the one of the state in which they are currently living. At European level, the census will help rank the states according to population. Romania currently ranks 6th in the Union. Unfortunately, however, because of the demographic situation in the last decade, Romanian could drop to the 7th position. At national level, following the questions that the resident population of Romania will answer, regarding education, occupation, income, religion, ethnicity or housing, its profile will be drawn in detail. The aim is to provide information that is essential for public, social or economic policy, for the sustainable development of communities, for academia or for business people.
Here is the Communication Director of the National Institute of Statistics, Cătălin Raiu, once again:
"The census captures the socio-demographic profile of the population. That's the aim: to know what a country's population looks like based on indicators including of professional training or standard of living. There are also indicators that are more sensitive or of particular interest for certain public policies funded by the European Union, for example, on ethnicity, or indicators that are highly relevant at national level, such as religious affiliation. And here I must confess that one of our strategies is precisely a strong partnership with representatives of ethnic minorities and religious denominations, because they are, by definition, organizations directly interested in maximizing their membership based on the census. "
As the censuses organized once every 10 years are the only tools by means of which the state can gather relevant and extremely personal information about ethnicity or religion, representatives of national minorities and of the 18 religious denominations in Romania will be invited by the National Institute of Statistics to monthly talks, until the end of the review period. The first meeting, in the form of a webinar, has already taken place.
The first, partial, results of the census will be presented towards the end of 2022. The final ones, from both Romania and all the other member states of the European Union, will be known at the end of 2023. (MI)