The details of more than 23 million people in Argentina were registered online in advance of the 2022 National Census, the government has revealed.
The figure represents more than half of the country’s inhabitants, said Marco Lavanga, the director of the INDEC national statistics bureau, at a press conference held Wednesday morning as around 650,000 census-workers began traversing the nation to quiz residents.
"We did not know how the digital census was going to be received, but it exceeded all our expectations and that allowed the field operation to be much faster," said the official.
Lavagna revealed that 23,813,773 people had been registered digitally from 8,615,318 households. "In the last 72 hours [before the census], 2,023,869 homes completed the digital census," added Lavagna.
As proceedings drew to a close at around 6pm, the INDEC chief said that the undertaking had been “very normal,” with “no major problems.” Lavagna said his team were “very happy” and that any residents who were not questioned would be chased up in the coming days.
Conditions and questions
The pandemic-delayed once-in-a-decade census, the first since 2010, will reveal the true size of Argentina’s population and the housing conditions in which they live. Expectations are that 46 million people live in the country, compared to 40.1 million 12 years ago.
Changes to questions on ethnicity and self-perceived gender were new for this year’s edition, which probes residents on housing conditions and access to services, employment status, health coverage, education level, among other items.
Census-takers visited homes across the country to conduct face-to-face interviews or collect a code from those who opted for the digital census option.
Reflecting changed attitudes to gender identity, residents were able to identify themselves as one of eight different options, including trans and non-binary, among others.
Regarding ethnicity, respondents were asked whether they are of "indigenous” or “Afro” descent, as well as if they speak an indigenous language.
A population estimate will be released before the weekend, but data will continue to be processed until definitive results are obtained within a year and a half, Lavagna said on Wednesday.
An accurate picture
"The census is the exact picture of who we are. We cannot plan where we want to go as a country if we do not know who we are, if we cannot recognise ourselves in our cultural, ethnic, socio-economic or socio-demographic diversities, and the census gives us this information," Lavagna stressed.
The census included special operations in rural areas, collective housing (hospitals and nursing homes) and to note down homeless people.
Given the complications, only essential services were authorised to remain open on Wednesday, which was declared a national holiday.
In the nation’s capital, Buenos Aires looked like a ghost-town, eerily reminiscent of the strict lockdowns enforced in 2020 to tackle the spread of Covid-19 – only this time, even supermarkets were shuttered.
The first census in Argentina, carried out in 1869, counted 1.8 million people. By 1914, the population had risen to 7.9 million and in 1947, it stood at 15.9 million inhabitants. Since 1960, when 20 million residents were counted, the census has been carried out every decade, with an average population increase of around four million people every 10 years.
Among those to receive a visit were President Alberto Fernández, First Lady Fabiola Yáñez and their one-month-old son, Francisco, who were visited at the Olivos Presidential Residence by two women, Camila and Marisol. In a post on social media showing the encounter and their baby, Yáñez thanked the workers for their "kindness and speed."