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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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Topics to be investigated in population censuses

In line with the overall approach of revision 2 of Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, the selection of census topics is based on outputs expected to be produced by the census. Thus, the first step involves clear identification of expected outputs, and then the core and additional topics are decided on that basis. For each of the core topics there is a recommended tabulation. It is recommended that countries collect data on the core topics and also produce the recommended tabulation, as this would improve the international harmonization and comparability of statistics through the use of common concepts, definitions and classifications. Use of an agreed international approach would also enhance the capacity of countries to generate statistics for monitoring the socio-economic situation of their populations, including for the provision of data for the Millennium Development Goals. The topics to be covered in the census (that is, the subjects regarding which information is to be sought for each individual) should, however, be determined upon balanced consideration of (a) the needs of the broad range of data users in the country (b) achievement of the maximum degree of international comparability, both within regions and on a worldwide basis (c) the probable willingness and ability of the public to give adequate information on the topics and (d) the total national resources available for conducting the census. Such a balanced consideration will need to take into account the advantages and limitations of alternative methods of obtaining data on a given topic within the context of an integrated national programme for gathering demographic and related socio-economic statistics (see paras. 1.20–1.57 in part one above).

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