The Population and Housing Census 2021 is carried out by combining a register-based census with a sample survey.

Register-based component of the census

Description of the 2021 register-based census methodology could be found here

The register-based component of the census involves using state databases, which hold information that has already been collected from people.

In organising the 2021 census, Statistics Estonia cooperates with nearly 30 registers. The main registers are, for example, the population register, register of buildings and registers of the Land Board, Tax and Customs Board and Health Insurance Fund. In addition, information from other state databases is used to complement and improve the accuracy of the results.

Databases used in the register-based census

  • ADS – address data system of the Land Board
  • ARIREG – Commercial Register
  • EHIS – Estonian Education Information System
  • EHR – National Register of Buildings
  • EMPIS – Estonian Unemployment Information System
  • EMSR – Estonian Medical Birth Register
  • e-toimik – e-File system
  • ETR – Register of Residence and Work Permits
  • KIR – Prisoners’ Register
  • KIRST – Health Insurance Information System
  • KMAIS – Identity Documents Database
  • KOPIS – Mandatory Funded Pension Register
  • KR – Land Register
  • KVKR – National Defence Obligation Register
  • MKR – Register of Taxable Persons
  • RAKS – Register of Granting International Protection
  • RETS – Estonian Medical Prescription Centre
  • RR – Population Register
  • SAP – State Personnel and Payroll Database
  • SKAIS – Social Security Information System
  • SPR – Causes of Death Register
  • STAR – Social Services and Benefits Registry
  • TETRIS – Database of Work Ability Assessment and Work Ability Allowance
  • Traffic Register
  • TÖR – Employment Register
  • Data warehouse of Elering

Statistics Estonia's approved list of published characteristics with sources can be found here.

Pilot censuses

For using registers, Statistics Estonia has carried out methodological and information technology preparatory work since 2010. To evaluate the register-based method, a pilot survey (in 2014) and two pilot censuses (in 2016 and 2019) were carried out. Both pilot censuses confirmed that all the characteristics formed on the basis of registers comply with international quality requirements.

Survey component of the census

The purpose of the sample survey is to collect information on people living in Estonia that is not available in the registers, and evaluate the quality of the partnership index. In addition, there are questions about ethnicity and mother tongue, which are available in the population register, but in the census questionnaire two answer options can be selected for each.

The questions concern the following:

  • address of the current place of residence (asked online);
  • number of persons living at the same address;
  • information on minors living in household;
  • information on partner (cohabitee, spouse) who lives at the same address;
  • information on immigration to Estonia (incl. return migration);
  • ethnic nationality;
  • knowledge of languages (incl. mother tongue) and dialects;
  • religious affiliation;
  • existence of a long-term illness or health problem and health-related limitations on daily activities.

For the survey component of the Population and Housing Census, a random sample is selected from addresses. An address-based survey means that all dwellings on a specific territory are visited to enumerate all the people living in these dwellings. This method ensures that as many persons as possible are located. First, people will have the opportunity to respond to an online questionnaire during a specific period. Then, enumerators will receive a list with addresses from where residents did not answer fully to the questionnaire. An address-based survey ensures a higher response rate for face-to-face interviews, as it is not necessary to look for certain people whose addresses might not be known; instead all persons living at a specific address are interviewed.

For the census, the territory of the country is divided into enumeration areas, and a census list is compiled of all known dwellings in an area. Enumerators working in the area must interview all persons living in the area.

Data collection methods of the survey component

  • Online questionnaire available for self-response to anyone (28 December 2021 – 22 January 2022)
  • Phone or face-to-face interviews with persons living at sampled addresses (1 February 2022 – 28 February 2022).

The sample includes approximately 40,000 dwellings (around 30,000 of these inhabited), i.e. around 60,000 persons for whom participation in the population and housing census is mandatory according to the law.

Sampling principles

  • Municipalities with less than 2,001 residents, i.e. small islands – all residents
  • Municipalities with 2,001 to 20,000 residents – 300 inhabited addresses
  • Municipalities with 20,001 to 49,999 residents – 500 inhabited addresses
  • Municipalities with 50,000 to 100,000 residents (incl. Tartu) – 800 inhabited addresses
  • Tallinn – 500 inhabited addresses from each district