March 10, 2020 | Press Release

Education data matters: Education reporting in Brazilian censuses is inaccurate

A recent paper is the first step to measure potential errors in Brazilian census education data. © Maneerat

The education reporting in Brazilian censuses is likely to be inaccurate. Marília Nepomuceno and a colleague show evidence that the data on educational attainment is differently misreported by age, sex, and educational level.

As all social scientists know: data are essential for demographic analysis. Deficiencies in data lead to a distorted picture of the population and may directly affect public policies. The educational level is widely used to measure social inequalities in health, mortality, fertility and migration.

Inaccuracies in these data may result in a misleading policy response, which is even more relevant in countries with limited resources. Furthermore, if education misreporting is different across censuses, trend analysis using these data will reflect erroneous patterns. Global studies using census education data from developing countries should be aware of this weakness.

Marília Nepomuceno and a colleague from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil published their findings in the journal Demographic Research. According to them, this is the first step to measure potential errors in Brazilian census education data. More efforts need to be made to examine the magnitude and direction of the misreporting of census education data in Brazil and other developing countries, where educational expansion is underway.

Original publication

Nepomuceno, M., Turra, C.: Assessing the quality of education reporting in Brazilian censuses. Demographic Research. (2020) DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2020.42.15

Author of the paper

Research Scientist in the Research Group Lifespan Inequalities

Marília R. Nepomuceno


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The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.