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1.6 Million “Left Behind”: Errors in Ghana 2021 PHC report “exonerate” U.S. Census Bureau

By Mawandor Binyam
Article 1.6 Million “Left Behind”:  Errors in Ghana 2021 PHC report “exonerate” U.S. Census Bureau
NOV 24, 2021 LISTEN

Billed as the country’s first fully digital census, the 2021 PHC has been applauded for presenting timely data within three months of exiting the field, though it is yet to be disclosed when the full results will be made available to the general public. The 2021 PHC Press Release on Provisional Results published by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) asserts that the de facto population in Ghana on Census Night was 30,792,608 being made up of 15,610,149 females and 15,182,459 males, situating the current national population density to 129 persons per square kilometer. It goes further to show the cumulative population figures for each of the sixteen (16) regions and remarks that the four most populous regions include, in descending order of magnitude: Greater Accra Region (5,455,692), Ashanti Region (5,440,463), Eastern Region (2,925,653), and Central Region (2,859,821), leaving the Northern region to the fifth position with 2,310,939 persons. But that is not all.

While declaring that the new results show a 24.9% increase in population from the previous census, the report further compares the national results with a range of benchmark extrapolations to test GSS’s degree of predictive accuracy with those of the United Nations Statistical Division and the U.S. Census Bureau. It claims that all the projections have deviated in the negative, namely the GSS 2021 mid-year population projections deviated by -2.7% of 31,636,804, the United Nations 2021 mid-year medium variant population projections by -3.0% of 31,732,129, and the U.S. Census Bureau projections by -4.9% of 32,372,889. By this conclusion, the report implies that the deflections in the U.S. Census Bureau’s extrapolations are the furthest from statistical reality, followed by those of the United Nations Statistical Division, making those of GSS the most reliable in the contest.

But impressive as it may sound to the casual reader, this conclusion has hefty implications and calls for objective scrutiny to establish its credibility. While it appears that the ‘Prophetic eye of the government’ may have taken the supposition for granted, a meticulous study of the report suggests that it may be far from right, albeit unwittingly. And unless otherwise indicated, there are gross data discrepancies, the analysis of which produce two irreconcilable outcomes. There is therefore a need for GSS to either provide some footnotes of palpable scientific justification to show that its results are beyond impeachment or, in the absence of any, respectfully revise same, as this may have grave ramifications for policy analysis, planning, research and development for stakeholders.

In fact, it can be deduced from the General Report Vol. 3A[ii] that the actual results of five pairs of extended tables do not tally with the totals supplied in all published reports. They simply do not add up, suggesting that as far as the 2021 PHC is concerned, the results that have been published so far are defective and untenable. Consider the table below and compare it with the totals supplied in the extended tables in the original document for verification.

TABLE 1: COMPARISON OF PUBLISHED AND CORRECTED NATIONAL AND REGIONAL POPULATION RESULTS

A B C D E F G H I J K
GSS EXTENDED TABLE NO. REGION REPORTED NUMBER CORRECTED NUMBER DIFFERENCE
BOTH SEXES MALE FEMALE BOTH SEXES MALE FEMALE BOTH SEXES MALE FEMALE
GHANA 30,832,019 15,200,440 15,631,579 32,407,554 15,965,251 16,442,303 1,575,535 764,811 810,724
5-2 & 5-19 WESTERN 2,060,585 1,045,227 1,015,358 2,165,422 1,096,961 1,068,461 104,837 51,734 53,103
5-3 & 5-20 CENTRAL 2,859,821 1,390,987 1,468,834 3,049,746 1,483,777 1,565,969 189,925 92,790 97,135
5-4 & 5-21 GREATER ACCRA 5,455,692 2,679,063 2,776,629 5,917,740 2,900,637 3,017,103 462,048 221,574 240,474
5-5 & 5-22 VOLTA 1,659,040 790,685 868,355 1,659,040 790,685 868,355 0 0 0
5-6 & 5-23 EASTERN 2,925,653 1,436,951 1,488,702 2,925,653 1,436,951 1,488,702 0 0 0
5-7 & 5-24 ASHANTI 5,440,463 2,679,914 2,760,549 5,884,444 2,893,576 2,990,868 443,981 213,662 230,319
5-8 & 5-25 WESTERN NORTH 880,921 451,948 428,973 880,921 451,948 428,973 0 0 0
5-9 & 5-26 AHAFO 564,668 285,340 279,328 564,668 285,340 279,328 0 0 0
5-10 & 5-27 BONO 1,208,649 596,676 611,973 1,208,649 596,676 611,973 0 0 0
5-11 & 5-28 BONO EAST 1,203,400 603,136 600,264 1,203,400 603,136 600,264 0 0 0
5-12 & 5-29 OTI 747,248 377,392 369,856 747,248 377,392 369,856 0 0 0
5-13 & 5-30 NORTHERN 2,310,939 1,141,705 1,169,234 2,685,683 1,326,756 1,358,927 374,744 185,051 189,693
5-14 & 5-31 SAVANNAH 653,266 327,687 325,579 653,266 327,687 325,579 0 0 0
5-15 & 5-32 NORTH EAST 658,946 322,149 336,797 658,946 322,149 336,797 0 0 0
5-16 & 5-33 UPPER EAST 1,301,226 631,263 669,963 1,301,226 631,263 669,963 0 0 0
5-17 & 5-34 UPPER WEST 901,502 440,317 461,185 901,502 440,317 461,185 0 0 0

Source: Adapted from GSS 2021 PHC General Report Vol. 3A Extended Tables 5-2 – 17 and 5-19 – 34 (pp 39 – 88)

As is shown in the table above, the population of five regions, namely Greater Accra, Ashanti, Northern, Central and Western will shoot up by 462,048, 443,981, 374,744, 189,925, and 104,837 respectively, leading to an upsurge in the national population figure by 1,575,535 (i.e. nearly +5.12% of 30,792,608), thereby situating the de facto population in Ghana on Census Night to 32,407,554 being made up of 16,442,303 females and 15,965,251 males. And if that becomes the case, it will naturally follow that the national population density in the 2021 PHC can no longer be 129 but 136 persons per square kilometer, showing that the population density at the national level increased by 33 (not 26) persons per square kilometer over the 103 recorded in 2010. This will also call for revision of the regional and district population densities as well as their national shares in the population. It will not only also show that Ghana’s population increased by 31.4% from the 2010 PHC (not 24.9%), but also that the population of Central Region is greater than that of Eastern Region and not the other way round as GSS asserts so that Eastern Region now becomes the country’s fourth most populous region instead.

Finally, in testing the confidence levels in the provisional results, using the benchmark comparisons, GSS 2021 mid-year population extrapolations will deviate by +2.4% of 31,636,804, the United Nations 2021 mid-year medium variant population projections will deviate by +2.1% of 31,732,129, and the U.S. Census Bureau projections by +0.1% of 32,372,889 as shown in the Table 2. Per this analysis, since the U.S. Census Bureau extrapolations represent the smallest deflections from statistical reality as far as the 2021 PHC projections are concerned, it stands exonerated, followed by the United Nations. And that will mean also that the GSS projections are the furthest from the reality and therefore not reliable.

TABLE 2: COMPARISON OF PUBLISHED AND CORRECTED NATIONAL POPULATION WITH BENCHMARK VALUES

A B C D E F G
1 REGION POPULATION PROJECTIONS DEFLECTION FROM DE FACTO POPULATION OF 30,792,608 DEFLECTION FROM CORRECTED DE FACTO POPULATION OF 32,407,554
NUMBER % NUMBER %
2 2010 PHC Population 24,658,823 6,133,785 24.9 7,748,731 31.4
3 Ghana Statistical Service 31,636,804 -844,196 -2.7 770,750 2.4
4 UN Statistical Division 31,732,129 -939,521 -3.0 675,425 2.1
5 US Census Bureau 32,372,889 -1,580,281 -4.9 34,665 0.1

Source: Adapted from GSS 2021 PHC Preliminary Report Vol. 1

The point then is that, it is imperative for GSS to press forth to “leave no one behind” by doing a more thorough check to address these discrepancies or offer palpable scientific justification for same so as to furnish the public with the reliable information, as these will impact on stakeholders’ confidence in policy analysis and planning as well as resource allocation, development and research.

Email: [email protected]

The writer is a pastor, based in Peki in the South-Dayi District of Volta Region.

TABLE 3: PUBLISHED NATIONAL AND REGIONAL POPULATION TOTALS AND SELECTED CHARACTERISTICS

A B C D E F G H I J
1 REGION NUMBER NATIONAL SHARE OF POPULATION (%) MALE-FEMALE PROPORTIONS AREA (KM2) POPULATION DENSITY (PERSONS PER KM2)
BOTH SEXES MALE FEMALE MALE FEMALE
2 GHANA 30,832,019 15,200,440 15,631,579 100 49.3 50.7 238,533 129.3
3 WESTERN 2,060,585 1,045,227 1,015,358 6.7 50.7 49.3 13,842 148.9
4 CENTRAL 2,859,821 1,390,987 1,468,834 9.3 48.6 51.4 9,826 291.0
5 GREATER ACCRA 5,455,692 2,679,063 2,776,629 17.7 49.1 50.9 3,245 1681.3
6 VOLTA 1,659,040 790,685 868,355 5.4 47.7 52.3 9,504 174.6
7 EASTERN 2,925,653 1,436,951 1,488,702 9.5 49.1 50.9 19,323 151.4
8 ASHANTI 5,440,463 2,679,914 2,760,549 17.6 49.3 50.7 24,389 223.1
9 WESTERN NORTH 880,921 451,948 428,973 2.9 51.3 48.7 10,079 87.4
10 AHAFO 564,668 285,340 279,328 1.8 50.5 49.5 5,196 108.7
11 BONO 1,208,649 596,676 611,973 3.9 49.4 50.6 11,113 108.8
12 BONO EAST 1,203,400 603,136 600,264 3.9 50.1 49.9 23,248 51.8
13 OTI 747,248 377,392 369,856 2.4 50.5 49.5 11,066 67.5
14 NORTHERN 2,310,939 1,141,705 1,169,234 7.5 49.4 50.6 26,524 87.1
15 SAVANNAH 653,266 327,687 325,579 2.1 50.2 49.8 34,790 18.8
16 NORTH EAST 658,946 322,149 336,797 2.2 48.9 51.1 9,070 72.7
17 UPPER EAST 1,301,226 631,263 669,963 4.2 48.5 51.5 8,842 147.2
18 UPPER WEST 901,502 440,317 461,185 2.9 48.8 51.2 18,476 48.8

Source: Adapted from GSS 2021 PHC General Report Vol. 3A Extended Tables 5-1 to 5-18, 5-35 and 5-36 (see pp 37-67, 68, 89, 90)

TABLE 4: CORRECTED NATIONAL AND REGIONAL POPULATIONS AND SELECTED POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS

A B C D E F G H I J
1 REGION NUMBER NATIONAL SHARE OF POPULATION (%) MALE-FEMALE PROPORTIONS AREA (KM2) POPULATION DENSITY (PERSONS PER KM2)
BOTH SEXES MALE FEMALE MALE FEMALE
2 GHANA 32,407,554 15,965,251 16,442,303 100 49.3 50.7 238,533 135.9
3 WESTERN 2,165,422 1,096,961 1,068,461 6.7 50.7 49.3 13,842 156.4
4 CENTRAL 3,049,746 1,483,777 1,565,969 9.4 48.7 51.3 9,826 310.4
5 GREATER ACCRA 5,917,740 2,900,637 3,017,103 18.3 49.0 51.0 3,245 1,823.60
6 VOLTA 1,659,040 790,685 868,355 5.1 47.7 52.3 9,504 174.6
7 EASTERN 2,925,653 1,436,951 1,488,702 9.0 49.1 50.9 19,323 151.4
8 ASHANTI 5,884,444 2,893,576 2,990,868 18.2 49.2 50.8 24,389 241.3
9 WESTERN NORTH 880,921 451,948 428,973 2.7 51.3 48.7 10,079 87.4
10 AHAFO 564,668 285,340 279,328 1.7 50.5 49.5 5,196 108.7
11 BONO 1,208,649 596,676 611,973 3.7 49.4 50.6 11,113 108.8
12 BONO EAST 1,203,400 603,136 600,264 3.7 50.1 49.9 23,248 51.8
13 OTI 747,248 377,392 369,856 2.3 50.5 49.5 11,066 67.5
14 NORTHERN 2,685,683 1,326,756 1,358,927 8.3 49.4 50.6 26,524 101.3
15 SAVANNAH 653,266 327,687 325,579 2.0 50.2 49.8 34,790 18.8
16 NORTH EAST 658,946 322,149 336,797 2.0 48.9 51.1 9,070 72.7
17 UPPER EAST 1,301,226 631,263 669,963 4.0 48.5 51.5 8,842 147.2
18 UPPER WEST 901,502 440,317 461,185 2.8 48.8 51.2 18,476 48.8

Source: Adapted from GSS 2021 PHC General Report Vol. 3A Extended Tables 5-19 to 5-34 (see pp 68-88)


Ghana 2021 PHC Vol. 1: Preliminary Report. This report was published in September 2021 and can be accessed online from the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC) at http://www.census2021.statsghana.gov.gh/dissemination_details.php?disseminatereport=MjYzOTE0MjAuMzc2NQ==&Publications#

[ii] Ghana 2021 PHC General Report Vol. 3A: Population of Regions and Districts. This report, released in November, 2021 focuses on population size, share and growth, sex composition, population density, number of households and household size by region, district, and type of locality. It can be accessed online from the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC) at http://www.census2021.statsghana.gov.gh/dissemination_details.php?disseminatereport=MjYzOTE0MjAuMzc2NQ==&Publications#

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