It was 3 pm on Sunday when Brazilian census takers arrived at the home of Brazil’s minister of Planning, Paulo Bernardo. “People can schedule interviews with the census takers in their homes or any other place,” said the minister, after he and his family spent some 20 minutes answering the census questions.
Bernardo explained that the census is a very important part of preparing public policy (including the distribution of money) and that it is essential that everyone participate.
“In order to understand Brazilian reality we need precise information about family size, homes and work,” the minister explained.
In order to be certain that people knocking on their doors are official census takers, a toll-free number, 0800-721-8181 is available in case of any doubts. “Official census takers wear uniforms and have credentials,” said the minister.
The Brazilian census is a gigantic undertaking run by the government statistical bureau (IBGE – Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) with a budget of 1.7 billion reais (US$ 974 million) and 190,000 census takers who will visit some 58 million households between now and October 31st.
This year, for the first time, the census in Brazil will be entirely computerized, making enormous reports on paper unnecessary. An innovation is that it will be possible for the questionnaire to be filled out on the Internet.
In that case, a census official will visit the home and leave an individual access code that must be used within five days.
In Brazil the law is that people must respond correctly to questions by census takers (Law 53.534 of 1968). Not doing so can result in a fine.
The same law ensures that all information collected is to be used exclusively for statistical ends. This year Brazil is one of 68 countries around the world that will be making a census.