Country gearing up for 10-year population census

Mobil advertising was used to promote compliance in Palmares. The sign says 'I exist.' Photo: Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos

More than 25,000 teachers will be knocking on doors from May 30 to June 3 as the 10th national census takes place.

The teachers are expected to visit an estimated 1.3 million homes to obtain basic demographical data. This is the first census since 2000.

Conducting such a project in a country without firm street addresses is a trick in itself. Most of the teachers will be from the local schools, solving some of the problems of unfamiliarity.

The Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos has its own mapping division that has or will prepare maps of the 473 districts in the country. More than 25,000 maps will be produced the census institute said.

The census institute conducted a trial in August in Palmares. The trial run gives a snapshot of what the full census will find. Palmares is west of San José and Heredia in the province of Alajuela.

Surveyors determined that the population in Palmares had increased 5.9 percent as had population density. The census found 15,511 men and 16,019 women and 828 persons per square kilometer in the canton. That density was up from the 2000 finding of 782.

Some 50.8 of those interviewed reported having employment and of those 66.2 percent were in some sort of service job. Construction employment had fallen to 23.2 percent from the 2000 figure of 30.5 percent, reflecting the general downturn in business due to economic changes.
The Palmares workforce was better off than the estimated national average. The census reported 3.9 percent unemployment, less than the national level of 7.3 percent at the time.

Surveyors located 9,131 homes with 67.5 percent characterized as being in good condition. The number of homes was up 18.8 percent from 2000.

The number of persons in each household decreased from 4.1 to 3.7, the census said.

Nearly all the homes (99.8 percent) had electricity and 4.2 percent had water from the street.

Some 50 percent of the homes had computer but only 27.6 had Internet, the census said.

The general population level was higher in 2010 with residents reported an average of 7.9 years of schooling, up from 7.7. There was a slight reduction in reported illiteracy at 3.2 percent.

The birth rate was down slightly with each woman reporting an average of 2.2 children.That was down from 2.5 10 years earlier.

The census institute has been using teachers as surveyors since 1950. School children will be out of school the days of the census.

The government said it is paying 9 billion colons or about $18.2 million.

The census institute keeps a running estimate of population. The figure Wednesday was 4, 563,538, but that number is just an estimate.

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