By Constantin Radut
In its history of almost 165 years, the National Institute of Statistics (INS) has not emanated as much lack of personality and professionalism as it has in the last 10 years since the current director general is at the helm of the institution. A specialist, but not in statistics, but in econometrics, a special branch of the study of economics, in which the basis is mathematics and mathematical and statistical models.
We would not have mentioned these things if we had not reviewed the INS press release regarding the 2021 Population and Housing Census, the data of which were only published on December 30, 2022. Romania was the last EU country to publish census data. And this in a press release, as if it were about “industry prices” or “the number of live animals” in agriculture. That’s not all. The entire press release regarding the Census is only 15-17 pages long. I saw what other institutions in other countries did. The Central Statistical Office of Poland (GUS) has published a real study, an analysis spanning almost 100 pages. INSEE from France also publishes many pages and illustrations highlighting different demographic phenomena in their social, economic and national dynamics.
What does the INS in Romania do? It publishes some dry data, without consistency, without any appreciation and no connection with the economic and social context of the country. Most of them are statistical data taken from administrative institutions and compiled through various algorithms by the INS. It could be said that the 2021 Population Census (held in 2022) was done with approximation, with incomplete or estimated data by INS officials and other local and national public administration institutions. It is not surprising that the so-called review of the population did not end well, as the general director of the INS knew the resident population of the country. On July 31, the INS reported that “a total of 18.5 million people were registered, representing 95.4% of the estimated resident population on December 1, 2021 (19.02 million people).”
From what can be seen, INS failed to review the entire population of the country. A first for the modern era of the institution. He relied a lot on the self-review of the population. A real adventure. Because the software that was the basis of the self-review forms caused a real mess. I myself am an example. I was among those who believed that the INS would be able to count us faster and better. Wrong. I filled out the forms and at the end the robot congratulated me for the work I had done. In a few weeks, stupor. When checking the self-review, the same robot tells me that I am not registered. And that’s because the software didn’t draw your attention to the fact that if a main or subsequent question had wrong answers, you had to check which one is wrong and make the correction. Or if a person did not fill out the form correctly, an INS representative had the duty to knock on the door of the house to review the reviewed data. None of these.
It is not surprising that several representatives of the communities in Romania complained about the lack of reliability of the Population Census. Because it is more than certain that from the total resident population in Romania on December 31, 2021, as announced by the INS, several hundred thousand, if not over a million, are missing.
There are many arguments. For example, the population of Bucharest, which the INS quantifies at approximately 1.7 million inhabitants. Smaller than in 2011. A paradoxical situation, because in Romania the big cities are still points of attraction for the rural population. Apart from this aspect, over 500,000 houses were built in Bucharest in the last 10 years, if we take into account the evaluations of specialized companies that show that over 50,000 houses were put into use in the capital every year. In total, Bucharest would have gained more than 1 million inhabitants. The population census shows that the population of Bucharest, as specified by the preliminary data of the INS, decreased by at least several hundred thousand inhabitants. And here we do not make the confusion between Bucharest and Ilfov county.
In the above, we did not refer to the essential problems of the country’s demography. They are not the responsibility of the INS, but the economic, demographic and sociological policies of Romania. Areas in which we do not have any well-known specialist. Since Prof. Vladimir Trebici, from the 60s-80s, Romania has not had a demographer or a demographic school. Mr. Vasile Ghetau, with all due respect, pretends to be a demographer, but he is not. He is a doctor who counts the number of births and deaths in hospitals in his youth. Social sociology, of the type of Dimitrie Gusti from the interwar period, does not exist. Whatever digressions Prof. Ilie Badescu would make.
Whatever digressions Prof. Ilie Badescu would make. And there are no politicians who are interested in a real baby-boom policy. The Ministry of the Family is a building for the political relaunch of a person.
As such, we propose the INS launch a discussion, a series of in-depth conferences on the demographic state of the country. Because Romania, according to the 2021 Population Census, is experiencing one of the biggest demographic catastrophes in Europe.
Parallel to the internal demographic problem, with women’s fertility, the fertile age of a family, with the age pyramid, the Government from Bucharest must look very seriously at the problem of migration. Where do Romanians go abroad, why, how much do they earn there and how much is this virtual gain compared to the real one in their country of origin.
Otherwise, let’s go to hell.
By Constantin Radut