Argentina will all but shut down next Wednesday as tens of thousands of census-workers prepare to survey the population for the government’s Census 2022 campaign.
The once-in-a-decade national survey, scheduled for May 18, was originally meant to take place in 2020, but the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic prompted the mammoth undertaking to be delayed by two years.
The census is one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by Argentine governments. Every 10 years, the country comes to a standstill, with only essential services allowed to remain open. Throughout the day, an army of workers visit every home in the country, going door-to-door, questioning residents.
This year’s National Census will be carried out under a new legal framework, with people counted according to their usual place of residence (that is, where they "spend most of the time during the week”) and given the choice of declaring their chosen ethnic or gender identity.
Overseen by the INDEC national statistics bureau, citizens have been invited to submit their details for Census 2022 in advance online at www.censo.gob.ar – the first time the event has ever included a digital aspect.
Each household must select a person of reference who will answer questions regarding the occupants of their home as required by law. The census questionnaire includes a total of 61 questions: 24 related to the characteristics of the dwelling and 37 assigned to those who populate the household. Citizens and residents can either respond to the enquiries online in advance or wait for a census worker to visit their abode to answer questions.
According to government officials, during on-site operations, visitors will wear a shirt bearing the official image of Census 2022 and the telephone number of the related helpline (0800-345-2022), as well as a badge showing their personal details (name, surname and ID number).
Those who refuse to participate or respond with false information can be fined (ranging from 1,000 pesos to 106,000 pesos) under the corresponding national legislation.
As is tradition, the day of the census will be a public holiday in Argentina, with restrictions in place on the functioning and opening times of businesses across the country. All theatrical performances, cinema screenings, sports events, restaurants and food stores must remain closed until 8pm at the earliest.
Though the majority of citizens and residents will receive a visit next Wednesday, census proceedings actually began on April 22, when census-takers began visiting rural areas in the mountainous areas of the Patagonia region and in the provinces of Mendoza and San Juan in order to avoid later lower temperatures. Similar operations will be carried out in provinces such as Neuquén and Tucumán over the coming weekend.
Last Monday (May 9), census-workers also began visiting “collective dwellings and rural areas.” Large institutions, such as boarding schools, barracks, homes for the elderly and tourist hotels, are also currently being surveyed.
In the case of hostels and shelters for homeless people, visits by census-takers will begin at 8am on May 17, recording the information of the people who slept there the previous night.
Homeless people sleeping rough on the streets will be counted during a special operation that will be carried out between 8pm on May 16 and 2am on May 17.
President Alberto Fernández’s government will be hoping this year’s Census will go off without a hitch. The last time Argentina's National Census took place – on October 27, 2010 – former president Néstor Kirchner died after suffering a cardiac arrest at his home in El Calafate, shocking the nation.
Preliminary data is expected to be ready 30 days after the Census has taken place, according to INDEC forecasts. The “final basic results,” according to state news agency Télam, will be ready around eight months after the event, with “definitive expanded results” arriving 13 months on from the national survey.