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Statistics South Africa responds to concerns over census data quality


Statistics South Africa responds to concerns over census data quality
11-07-24 / Kwanele Sibanda

Statistics South Africa responds to concerns over census data quality

Pretoria - In response to concerns raised by the Centre for Actuarial Research (CARe) in their report "THE 2022 SOUTH AFRICA CENSUS" released on July 9, 2024, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) has continued to clarify that the claims made about the Census 2022 results not meeting standards are unfounded and misleading.

Stats SA says it is dedicated to upholding standards of data accuracy ensured by quality checks at every stage of the census process from data collection to fieldwork monitoring.

"The Post Enumeration Survey (PES) is a quality control measure consistently applied in all democratic censuses. This method helps detect and rectify any errors, ensuring the reliability of the data. For details on the PES process refer to our reports from 2011 and 2022 on the Stats SA Website (www.statssa.gov.za).

"We firmly deny the Centre for Actuarial Research's claim that Census 2022 figures should be treated as estimates due to undercounting issues. This assertion overlooks the foundation of our census work. The numbers from the Census 2022 Report serve as counts for government planning and resource allocation every decade," says the department.

It further exlained that the accuracy of these numbers is further validated by a review conducted by a group of local and international statistical experts, under the supervision of the Statistics Council which has assured both the Minister in the Presidency and the Statistician-General that the Census 2022 data is indeed reliable.

"We acknowledge the technical input and collaborations that enhance demographic procedures in South Africa. However, it is important to note that the CARe report, which was prepared for the Medical Research Council, has excluded insights shared during engagements with authors and inaccurately presents the findings as estimates than actual counts."

Stats SA says it provided comprehensive feedback both orally and in written form to address the concerns outlined in the authors' report, and it found it disconcerting that the authors published their findings without acknowledging the valuable insights and responses provided by Stats SA.

The department says that this misunderstanding was thoroughly explained in a report to researchers, illustrating that its methodologies adhere to standards established by the United Nations, which are utilised by 99 countries worldwide.

Stats SA added that it ensures that the census figures for population and housing in 2022 are based on a foundation that will withstand scrutiny over time, and its methods and statistical products are publicly available and published on its website. It cautioned against relying on statistics unless they clearly disclose their status or have been assessed using the South African Statistical Quality Assessment Framework (SASQAF).

Regarding Census Data Dissemination

"The upcoming phase of release of census products will include digital offerings, notably Provincial Profiles which were released in June. We expect to have in depth reports focusing on various topics ready, by the end of July," concluded Stats SA.

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