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Principles and recommendations for population and housing censuses

image of Principles and recommendations for population and housing censuses

The population and housing census is part of an integrated national statistical system, which may include other censuses (for example, agriculture), surveys, registers and administrative files. It provides, at regular intervals, the benchmark for population count at national and local levels. For small geographical areas or sub-populations, it may represent the only source of information for certain social, demographic and economic characteristics. For many countries the census also provides a solid framework to develop sampling frames. This publication represents one of the pillars for data collection on the number and characteristics of the population of a country.

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Essential roles of the census

Evidence-based decision-making is a universally recognized paradigm of efficient management of economic and social affairs and of overall effective governing of societies today. Generating relevant, accurate and timely statistics is a sine qua non of this model; producing detailed statistics for small areas and small population groups is its foundation. The role of the population and housing census is to collect, process and disseminate such small area detailed statistics on population, its composition, characteristics, spatial distribution and organization (families and households). Censuses are conducted periodically in the majority of the countries in the world; they have been promoted internationally since the end of the nineteenth century, when the International Statistical Congress recommended that all countries in the world conduct them. Since 1958, the United Nations has also been actively promoting the population and housing census by compiling the principles and recommendations for population and housing censuses.

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