Time left until the start of the population and housing census

Population and Housing Census 2021

A population and housing census is the collection, analysis and aggregation of data in order to determine the composition of the population, structure of households and families, their living conditions and distribution at a precise census moment. The population composition covers the population by sex and age, educational attainment, ethnic nationality and citizenship, social, labour and occupational status, and employment.

The statistical office of the European Union Eurostat coordinates population and housing censuses in Europe. Eurostat requires Member States to carry out a population census in a given year and determines a precise list of mandatory output characteristics and their format, in order to ensure the comparability of data across the countries. In Estonia, the census is conducted by Statistics Estonia.

The census moment of the Estonian Population and Housing Census 2021 is at 00:00 on 31 December 2021. All data collected in the census must be reported as at the census moment, regardless of the time and mode of response. The data collection starts on 28 December 2021 and continues until 20 February 2022.

The Estonian 2021 population census is carried out using the combined method. This means using data from state databases, i.e. registers, and asking people only about the data that is not available in registers. There are questions about ethnicity and mother tongue, which are available in the population register, but in the census questionnaire it is possible to select two answer options. 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. More information on the characteristics in state databases and sources can be found here (an unapproved draft document).

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: religion, existence of health problems and their impact on a person’s daily activities, knowledge of foreign languages and dialects. The questionnaire developed by Statistics Estonia is available here.

Getting people to participate in the census is a global problem, which is solved by register-based census, where the registers are cross-used to obtain data that are more accurate. According to the European Commission’s draft legislation, from 2024 onward, all EU countries should conduct a census each year. The use of registers in Estonia’s combined census in 2021 is justified, as in the future Estonia will transition to a fully register-based census. Investments in registers are essential and their development is important.

Statistics Estonia has made preparations for the 2021 census for a decade (2010–2019). The total cost is almost 16 million euros, half of which has been used in ministries to develop registers and improve data quality. The census work will continue in 2020–2023 and will end in 2024 when all census results have been published.

Statistics Estonia has been making methodological and IT-related preparations since 2010 to make it possible to use register data in the 2021 Population and Housing Census. A pilot survey (in 2014) and two pilot censuses (the first in 2016 and the second in 2019) were carried out to evaluate the method. Statistics Estonia tested the population and housing census questionnaire in early 2021.