If the reader once attended college and had the privilege of sitting in an elementary Economics class, chances are quite high that he or she would have come across the word, population census. Regardless of this possibility, let us quickly look at the United Nations definition of the term 'population census'. The UN defines population census as,
the total process of collecting, compiling, and publishing demographic, economic, and social data pertaining to a specific time to all persons in a country or delimited part of a country.
Put simply, Population Census is the process of counting (and collecting other information) of the total number of people living within a geographical territory at a particular point of time.
Population census is very important because it gives policy makers the needed information for national economic planning. A population census result, for instance, can help policy makers to estimate who gets what, why, and how. Consequently, population census is taken seriously in most countries of the world. In short, in Africa population census could be a do or die affair, as census figures are deliberately inflated to get more resource allocation.
In the United States, Article I, Section 2 establishes the need for a population census. In this regard, a national population census is conducted every 10 years across the United States. The last census was in 2010 and the next one is scheduled for April 1 2020 and is expected to cost about $15.6 billion which is three times the cost of the exercise when conducted in 2000. Population census is taken so seriously in the US that a fine of $5,000 is imposed on anyone who willfully refuses to be enumerated.
The challenge with population census is that it is not only an Herculean task that gulps down hefty sum of money but it is often impossible to obtain the exact population figures. This is because the enumerators are humans and are prone to fatigue and even mistake. Also, there are always a number of illegal immigrants and homeless people who somehow elude the enumerators. Thus, to make population census more credible, estimates are usually done.
However, the blockchain technology, although still in its infancy, has the potential to completely eliminate the need for a population census. As the technology begins to evolve, all that needs to be done will be coding every single person, represented by unique features, into the blockchain of the population commission of a particular country. In this circumstance, everyone represented in the blockchain will become like a commodity that can be removed and added based on certain parameters.
The Census Bureau of the United States can, for instance, collect information about the population of the United States and uniquely code everyone into the blockchain. Such important demographic and social factors like age, gender, marital status, religion, level of education, etc can be computed into the blockchain and assigned to the individual members of the population.
But since population is not static, the blockchain must be ready to accommodate the four major factors affecting population figures which are namely: Birth, Death, Emigration, and Immigration. As a result, every child born into the population must be coded into the blockchain by the Population Bureau. The same thing goes for every member of the population that dies. Same must be done for emigration and immigration.
So, the population figure at every point will be:
TP= RP + B+ I - D - E
Where TP = Total Population
RP = Recent Population
B= Number of Live Births
I= Number of Immigrants
D = Number of Deaths
E= Number of Emigrants
If the above equation successfully exists as transactions on the blockchain, the need for a population census would have been completely eliminated as live updates to the population figures will be available to everyone. All that needs to be done will be to code Jane into the blockchain when she is born, code Jane offsprings into the blockchain, temporarily subtracts Jane from the lot when she emigrates, and permanently eliminate her when she is dead.
This writer cannot tell exactly how it will happen, but we all could one day become commodities on the blockchain. And when that happens, population census will be an archaic human practice.