Employing a small-area study approach in a single urban area in Bolivia, a country with high rates of internal circular migration, we describe how, in the months before the November 2012 census, local leaders and neighbors, concerned with maximizing the per capita resources their residential districts and rural communities could claim from central government, threatened to employ sanctions against absent individuals whom they judged to be regular residents. We use three types of data—a two-wave household survey, data from vehicle toll booths, and photographic logs of a minibus station—to show how these threats generated substantial movement out of the urban area, leading to an urban undercount of roughly 20 % of prime-age adults and 50 % of those aged at least 50. More generally, we argue that these data highlight how local leaders’ increasingly sophisticated attempts to shape data extend beyond the well-known examples from autocratic states. This is driven by a combination of intensive urban–rural connections, leaders’ greater democratic accountability to local voters, increasing fiscal transparency at the national level, increasing fiscal accountability of governments to transnational neoliberal institutions pushing “transparency” and “evidence-based” policy, and more overt talk about “resource sharing” that is rooted in an evidence-based planning paradigm. Since these structural conditions exist in many other developing countries, the possibility of equivalent urban undercounts in forthcoming censuses needs to be anticipated and avoided.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 21, 2014
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