On the Extent of Digital Preference in Reporting of Ages in Pakistan

Farhat Yusuf


In Pakistan, like many other developing countries of the
world, age distributions availabe from the decennial population censuses
and sample surveys have shown substantial distortions and irregularities
[2; 3; 4; 6, pp.64-75; 9, pp.638-658; 13; 14, pp.64-95]. Some of
these distortions could be real and may have been the result of events
such as the Bengal famine of 1943 and the post-Independence migration
between India and Pakistan. Others could be due to the coverage and
response problems encountered in the collection of age data. Among the
coverage and response problems, two are of most importance:
underenumeration of females and erroneous age-reporting. In countries
like Pakistan, which have low literacy rates (19.2 per cent literates
according to the 1961 Census of Pakistan), most of the people do not
know their correct ages. As a result they tend to report their ages
either in round numbers or instead ask the enumerators to write down
whatever age they think proper. This pheno¬menon of reporting ages in
round numbers is usually called "digital pre¬ference". As a result of
this the single-year age distributions show distinct peaks and troughs
at ages ending with certain digits.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.30541/v7i4pp.519-532


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