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Population census refers to the official head-count of the people. It is the process by which the number of people living in a geographical area or country is counted and classified according to sex, age, group, occupational group, religion, nationality, etc. This is done every 10 years.

Features of good population census

  1. The enumeration should be done periodically 
  2. It is carried out by government and its agents
  3. It should be done at the same time throughout the territory or country
  4. It must reveal the population of the country at a particular point in time. 
  5. The counting should include all sections, age and all categories of people living in the particular area or country where the census is taking place

Two Forms of Population Census

  1. De-Facto Population Census: This is a system of counting only those who are physically present during census
  2. De-Jure Population Census: This form of census is the counting of people who are residence in a particular place; they are counted irrespective of the place they are residing. 

Importance of Population Census

  1. It helps to know the number of people living in a country in order to determine the size of the population
  2. It reveals the number of people working in a country.
  3. It enables the government to determine the future economic needs of the people and formulate proper planning for the people.
  4. It helps in the allocation of resources in the country.
  5. It forms the basis for the importation of goods and services
  6. It reveals the number of taxpayers in  the country at a particular period of time
  7. It provides relevant data which forms objectives for the distribution of a country’s wealth.

Problems of Population Census

  1.  High cost of conducting a census: Many West African countries cannot afford the huge amount required for carrying out a regular population census.
  2. Unskilled personnel: There are few skilled personnel such as statisticians and demographers who are qualified to take a census.
  3. Inaccessibility of some areas: Some parts of the countries of West Africa are not easily accessible because of the poor transportation system, bad roads.
  4. Prohibitive customary and religious beliefs
  5. A high degree of illiteracy
  6. Superstition: Superstition beliefs still abound in many areas. Some people believe that counting their children may bring ill-luck to the family such as death, so they give false information


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