Press Release

Quality demographic data help countries overcome easier any crisis

10 July 2020

Quality demographic data have an important role in managing crises, including the one caused by COVID-19. Once the national statistics have been adjusted to the international practices, the Republic of Moldova has recently presented the highest quality statistics on population, which has been decreasing due to migration. These are only some of the conclusions formulated during the discussion ‘Demographic Outlook of the Republic of Moldova for 2020’ , organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA Moldova) on the eve of the World Population Day, celebrated on 11 July. The event was organised in the context of the 75th anniversary of the UN, which started a global conversation on the future we want, and one of the subjects focused on the demographic transformations and their impact.   Experts, representatives of central authorities, international organisations and the civil society participated in the discussions. 

Opening the event, Nigina Abaszada, UNFPA Resident Representative in Moldova, and the event’s partners underlined the importance of quality statistics for policy formulation, appreciating the efforts of the National Bureau of Statistics in this regard. ‘No global or regional developments are possible without quality data.  Statistics offer quantitative evidence for policy formulation by the Government, assessing at the same time the actions’ efficiency in order to take into account the rights and needs of each individual’, said Abaszada.   

Nelea Rusu, Secretary of State, Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection, said: ‘It is very important to pay increased attention to generation, collection and use of qualitative and quantitative data, disaggregated by age, sex, and social vulnerability.  A priority of the Moldovan Government is to improve the availability and quality of population data, in order to factor them in policy development and implementation, as well as in monitoring the progress towards Sustainable Development Goals.’

Vitalie Valcov, Director General, National Bureau of Statistics: ‘The National Bureau of Statistics has recently published the number of country’s population. Until 2019 the number of country’s population was overestimated, and the migration was underestimated, which didn’t allow developing evidence-based policies that would achieve the expected outcome and improve people’s standards of living. Thus, upgrading the national statistical system by implementing new methodologies and standard statistical tools, adjusted to the current social and economic needs of the country, allowed for a qualitative estimation of the number of population with usual residence, which is an important indicator of demographic statistics.’ 

Simon Springett, United Nations Resident Coordinator: ‘Investing in data is the most important investment a State can make. Regretfully, COVID-19 pandemic has affected the countries’ social and economic situation. The poor are becoming even poorer, marginalised societies become even more affected and dependant on us, on how quickly we can intervene in this situation and leave no one behind. We should not let the pandemic increase these differences. For that, we need to involve all experts and use the most recent data offered by the National Bureau of Statistics.’

Caroline Tissot, Director of Swiss Cooperation Office: ‘Switzerland is committed to supporting quality data systems worldwide. Moldova is not an exception: the Swiss Cooperation Office stepped in with support when it was requested a couple of years ago. We are committed to further supporting this area, as we fully understand the strategic importance of the availability of accurate and timely figures and facts, statistical data, for the development of the country.’

During the second panel of the event, Valentina Istrati, Head of Census Department, National Bureau of Statistics, presented estimates of the population and international migration:

 ‘In January 2020, the country’s population constituted 2 million 640 thousand persons, by about 228 thousand persons less than at the beginning of 2014 and by 45 thousand less than the previous year. According to data, women predominate in the whole population, accounting for 51.9%. The population annual growth rate is not very good in the Republic of Moldova. The country ranks the last in the world classification, with a growth rate of minus 1.7%, according to the preliminary data. The global rate is positive: +1.2%. This is mainly caused by net migration, with natural population growth having only a minor contribution. After collecting these data we’ve realized that the legislation needs to be harmonised in several areas. As some data on migration are partially automated, we plan to develop a single system of population data in order to facilitate data systematisation.’

Johannes Jütting, Executive Director, Paris21: Investing in statistical data is very important. In the context of COVID-19 global pandemic, statistical data have become more important than ever. Worldwide, everybody now is speaking about the number of infected patients, number of deaths. People are interested in statistical data. Countries that use science and evidence are better positioned to overcome the crisis. Governments decide on restrictions and lockdown on the basis of statistics.’

The event continued with a discussion about the demographic outlook of the Republic of Moldova in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.

Lars Johann Lonnback, Head of Mission, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said: ‘During 17 April - 17 May, IOM conducted a study on the intention of Moldovan diaspora to return back home. 30% of respondents reported their intention to return home for good in late summer or early autumn because they had lost their jobs in the countries of emigration. The good side is that many people will return with various abilities acquired there, and even with possibilities to invest in the Republic of Moldova. But the remittances will drop, and the 38 thousand households that depend on them may be affected by poverty. Thus, we must broaden the economic and social programs for returning migrants.’

Olga Gagauz, Center for Demographic Research spoke about fertility trends. ‘The uncertainty and economic instability caused by the pandemic will affect the number of planned births in the short term. They will be postponed for a while, when the situation stabilises. In the long term, the Republic of Moldova is registering a decreasing birth rate since the 1980s. By 2035, the number of births might drop to 20 thousand. This is mainly caused by the decreasing number of women of reproductive age because of youth emigration. The pandemic cannot change the long-term fertility trends. The dynamics of birth rate in the country can change only if the diaspora returns for good.’ 

Alexei Buzu, Director, Center ‘Partnership for Development’ assessed the situation of the older persons and the impact of pandemic on them.

The older are affected the most by the pandemic, and their only solution is to stay at home, in isolation. But this will result in even more older people withdrawing from their work, learning or voting. In addition, besides social isolation, during this period older people were also isolated digitally. Data show that only 10% of them use Internet and can work from home during the pandemic. They are thus forced to either quit their job, or take the risk and go to their place of work. The authorities could respond by reducing this digital gap. We must take into account the specific needs of older persons and double our efforts to ensure active ageing.’ 

The public discussions Demographic Outlook of the Republic of Moldova for 2020’ was organised by the United Nations Population Fund in partnership with Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, National Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection, UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Moldova.

For more details, you can watch the whole discussion here: