1 skip 2 3

I saw an interesting story in the Romanian press recently: according to the recent census, Romania has lost 1.1 million people in the last year.  Now, considering that the country only has a population of only 19.12 million, that loss is very significant.  Romania experienced another large drop in population in the ten years before that.

That much is believable.  If you go to another European country, you will probably meet a Romanian ex-pat.   My question is, are the ex-pats in Romania being counted?

My suspicion arose at first when I heard a story of an ex-pat who tried to fill in the 2021 census (which was taken in 2022).  Apparently, every member of the household that was born after 2000 was listed as being older than the parents.  “It’s as if they were born in the 1900s,” I was told.  “Everyone was 100 years older than they were.  And I couldn’t submit the form, because there was a problem with the ages.  The kids were older than their parents.  So, maybe none of us are being counted.”

Now, at first, I thought that maybe it was an isolated incident.  I did notice that the only people who went to the census booths in the mall appeared to be elderly.  Young people did not have time to correct any mistakes from the automated census.  But, I thought that maybe that ex-pat had somehow fixed the situation.

Then I started to read the news stories.  Yes, Romania lost its population, but Cluj also dropped in population.  According to the census, at least, Cluj is down to 1966 levels.  That is before the name was changed to Cluj Napoca.

If you know a little about Cluj, you know there was a big building boom during the later communist years and again after the fall of communism.  Many of the high rises were built after 1966.  If Cluj had really dropped to its 1966 population, it would feel like a ghost town.

If you look at photographs from the 1960s and 1970s, you do not see a particularly crowded place.  While I understand the lack of parking spaces may be due to the fact that people were not driving much in the 1960s, the crowded buses, festivals, and malls do not seem to be from a city in decline.  Yes, a few other shopping centers are pretty empty, but overall the population appears to be on the rise.

If there are fewer people and more apartments, one would expect supply and demand to lower the rent and ownership prices.  I mean, sure, some people are renting apartments for the big music festivals, but it seems doubtful that so many are.

I suspect that the digitized census left people out.  Expats, students, perhaps some internal minorities, and people who are simply too busy to report a problem in the digitized census are most likely not being counted.  Especially when I ask people about the census and they say, “Census? What census?”

The digital census has serious flaws in it.  But who cares?

Well, there could be repercussions, especially when children are not being counted.  Budgets for school and child welfare may drop.  Other public services that affect all ages may be at risk.

Why is nothing done about this?  In the United States, certain ethnic minorities were not counted intentionally.  I personally think this is down to over-reliance on flawed technology and not a malicious act. But there are elements within the government who may have wanted to undercount children, because of the small amount being paid into education and the fuss that has caused in the media and among opposition parties.

It can take up to six months to register yourself in Cluj, even if you are working at it diligently.  Foreigners who do not like dealing with all this paperwork may have even ignored the census questions completely.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *