Supreme Court orders government to conduct census

census brazil
Brazilian census agent. Photo: Archive/IBGE

Less than a week after the federal government postponed Brazil’s census until at least 2022, Supreme Court Justice Marco Aurélio Mello issued an injunction ordering the nationwide survey to take place this year. The ruling responds to a request by the government of Maranhão state, one of Brazil’s poorest. “The right to information is the foundation on which governments may draft and implement public policies,” wrote the justice.

The 2021 budget cut funding for the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) by 96 percent, making the census unfeasible. The survey was supposed to have taken place last year, but was delayed due to the pandemic.

The census is a means for the government to understand the country and its population. It is particularly important for municipalities, which rely on accurate census data for everything from infrastructure and public health planning to districting, business development, and determining the allocation of federal funding across states and local governments.

The last available census data dates back to 2010. Since then, Brazil faced its two worst economic crises in its history and a deadly pandemic. That alone should make updating the populational survey imperative.