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Measuring the Economically Active in Population Censuses

A Handbook

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The Handbook provides guidance on the measurement of economic characteristics in population censuses, based on relevant experiences of countries, with a particular focus on the questions used and the requirements for processing of responses. The Handbook is intended to provide census planners with a variety of approaches to assess the questions and methods of collecting economic characteristics used in their national census, as they evaluate the performance in the past decade and plan for the 2010 round of censuses (2005-2014). Users of census results may also find the present text useful when evaluating the quality of census results.

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Working time and income

In general, the measurement of working time and of income from employment should relate to the total hours or income over all jobs. However, often those characteristics are measured only for the main or “reference” job. Once the main job is identified, it is essential that all characteristics refer to the same main job. Questionnaire design must be such as not to confuse respondents or interviewers on that point. When any secondary activities are identified they must be clearly separated and placed so as not to confuse the flow of questions relating to the main job. Doing so is not usually difficult with current activity (see examples) but can be difficult with usual activity.

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