Planned register-based census difficult because of lacking data ({{commentsTotal}})

Soon a thing of the past: Instead of sending people from door to door, Statistics Estonia is planning to conduct the 2021 census digitally.
Soon a thing of the past: Instead of sending people from door to door, Statistics Estonia is planning to conduct the 2021 census digitally. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Statistics Estonia is planning to conduct the next census based solely on data of the residents’ registration office, but this could be difficult, as the registers are partially incomplete, or their data not precise enough.

Already before the last census, the government decided that the next one would be done using Estonia’s e-systems, or the data available in its residents’ registers. Instead of sending people door to door, existing entries would be counted.

Though Statistics Estonia is preparing to conduct the 2021 census entirely digitally, an alternative needs to be ready, as they will only be able to tell whether or not the register entries are accurate enough the year before the census is actually carried out.

The plan after the government’s decision included getting the registers in order, creating the programs necessary to carry out the census, and then become one of the very few countries that count their populations based on register entries. At the moment there are just nine countries that do this.

In 2016 the first test was conducted. Statistics Estonia found out that some 20 percent of the people counted did not actually live where they were registered, project manager Diana Beltadze told ERR’s radio news.

According to Enel Pungas, head of the Ministry of Interior’s population facts department, a bill has made it to the Riigikogu that aims at making register entries more precise. At the same time, Pungas conceded that coercive measures likely won’t help trying to get things in order.

Statistics Estonia is currently an index-based system that uses mathematical statistics, which it hopes will help them get a more precise count also where people’s addresses aren’t up to date, or not available at all.

The second test count is planned for 2020, which is the point at which Statistics Estonia will know whether or not the new approach will work.

Editor: Dario Cavegn