News Editorial

Thursday 23 March 2017

Some searching questions for CSO

Heard the one about the state agency that mislaid 100,000 people? Unfortunately it's no joke. Yesterday's preliminary census results, which show that the CSO underestimated the population of Ireland by 100,000 people, raise serious questions about the operation of the organisation, with the blunder likely to result in the under-provision of many social services including health and education.

Most countries, including the United States and Britain, only count their populations once every 10 years. Ireland is relatively unusual in doing so twice a decade, with the last census having been held in 2006. Since then the CSO has published annual population estimates, with the most recent one, which was published last September, putting the population at 4.47 million people in April 2010.

So imagine our surprise when the preliminary census results were published yesterday. These show that the population was actually 4.58 million in April 2011. In other words, there were 100,000 more people in the country than the CSO had estimated. That's the equivalent of more than one in 50 of the entire population.

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