Population and Housing Census 2021

The Population and Housing Census is the only survey that gives a picture of life in Estonia at one moment in time: who live here, where and in what conditions. The census data provide information not only about the population in general but also about families, households, their distribution, migration as well as dwellings and living conditions. The knowledge gained from the census helps to make smarter decisions and consequently plan life in Estonia at the national as well as at municipality level. In Estonia, the census is conducted by Statistics Estonia.

How and when is the census organised?

Estonia’s 2021 population census is carried out using the combined method. This means that Statistics Estonia will mainly collect the required information from nearly 30 national registers. The data are collected as they are on 00:00 on 31 December 2021, but the data collection from registers lasts from January to July 2022. In addition, a sample survey is used to ask people about some self-assessed characteristics for which there is no information in the registers.

The census survey is conducted in two stages, using two different methods. All Estonian residents are invited to respond to the e-census from 28 December to 22 January 2022. Following the online survey, the census continues with phone and face-to-face interviews. The residents of addresses that are included in the survey sample are contacted, if they have not submitted their answers on the web. The random survey sample includes approximately 40,000 addresses across Estonia. It means that for around 60,000 residents of these addresses, it is mandatory to respond to the census, and they will be sent a relevant notification letter. Read more about participating in the census here.

What questions are asked?

Estonian registers are of high quality and include all information for the output characteristics required in Europe. However, the registers lack some data on self-reported information (additional characteristics), which are necessary for local users: religious affiliation, existence of health problems and their impact on daily activities, knowledge of foreign languages and dialects such information is collected with a sample survey. There are also questions about ethnicity and mother tongue, which are recorded in the population register, but in the census questionnaire, it is possible to select two answer options for each. The dataset or census characteristics for which data are collected in the census have been specified in the Official Statistics Act and Regulation 763/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Read more about the questions asked here.

What is a census moment?

One of the principles of the census is the agreed census moment, i.e. the critical moment at which data are collected. In Estonia, the census moment is at 00:00 on 31 December 2021. It means that both register and survey data are collected as they are at that moment, regardless of the time or method of submitting the data. All persons who were born before the census moment are enumerated, but not those who were born after 00:00 in the early morning of 31 December 2021. These people are also enumerated who were alive at the census moment, but passed away later. This creates a picture of the situation of the Estonian population, families and dwellings at a precise moment in time. It also makes it possible to compare the data internationally.