The Demographic Census; Again!

By: Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Sat 28 May / May 2016. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

It has been a month since the general population census was conducted. Yet, there are leaks coming out on there being fundamental discretions raised by administrators and employees in the Department of Statistics, regarding the extent to which the procedures of the census are reliable, and therefore the credibility and accuracy of results.

Employees tell tales about data blockages raised in the face of most respective parties, with a few exceptions. They also talk about the weakness of internet connections, being a parameter for process soundness, added major problems with the central mainframe, they say, and something about a “cable” being cut, next to training inadequacies of statistics instructor staff, and the absence of many of them from work!

Leaks also point out that the census was not “general”; as it did not include everybody, citizens and foreigners. More so, many raise questions on the comprehensiveness of the census, and its accuracy, regarding comparative coverage of different areas, inside and outside the capital, inclusive of the numbers of non-Jordanians in Jordan, as well as their distribution.

The inquiries raised deserve a pause, and they deserve to be sufficiently and convincingly answered, to assure any future planning would be based on concrete objective data, that would enable the outlining of precise, real solutions, to preface for the sought outcomes.

A simple example on this, would have to do with the registration of refugee and resident Syrians in Jordan, and the issuance of labour permits for them to work; something the Ministry of Labour could not do, due to data shortage. There are today thousands of Syrian workers in different sectors, but the Ministry, according to their statements, could only cite 8,000.

Had the data about enterprises and establishment in Jordan been accurate, and the distribution of Syrian workers across the spectrum of sectors in Jordan clear; the legislation of their employment and status would have been much easier, and so would be the citation of a much greater numbers. This confirms the necessity to provide sufficient answers by the statistics department on the size of economic establishments and the distribution of employment and labour demographics.

Moreover, this partiality is important to yield the fruits of the London Donors Conference, particularly since the European grant —should they hold to their word— is conditioned by the employment of 200 thousand Syrians. This, mind you, is not easily realisable within the currently given circumstance, or rather; this is difficult to proof in regards to the Syrian integration in the Jordan labour market.

Not in any way less important, but more pressing; is the fact that we have so neared Representative elections —soon. This underscores the importance of providing concrete demographic distribution data. This kind of information is primary in the analysis of Jordan’s electoral reality, as well as to the planning for the process itself. I do not know whether or not the Independent Elections Committee and the Department for Civil Status would come to shock with this issue as they set off preparations for the elections, inclusive of every 18-year old Jordanian and above.

In all honestly, nobody has evidence on the credibility or accuracy of the propositions, or leaks —for that matter; by admins and employees within the Statistics department, even though they know best. Still, the Administration of the department should investigate these leaks and spreads, and attempt to statistically test the capacity of the census data provided for the provision of answers, concrete ones; on the inquiries raised above, to at least rule doubtable ones out, and fold their pages for good, reassured by the soundness of the census and its results. However, should the doubts entailed prove correct, then admitting to the census’ inaccuracy would enable the review that would enable the arrival at sound data to build on in coming years, and there is nothing wrong with that, as it is not at all beneficial for Jordan to plan out its future blind of the demographic distribution of the Country, as well as of its social, economic, and political attributes. It is much more dangerous than officials think; that manipulation and fiddling with information, withholding it too, would just pass and that it does not incur harm; the major victim of this considerable fault is Jordan, in its totality of the Jordanian people as well as the State and its plans.