Nationwide census testing begins on December 30 ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Crowd in Tallinn (picture is illustrative).
Crowd in Tallinn (picture is illustrative). Source: Rene Suurkaev / ERR

Approximately 2,000 people across Estonia will be contacted during a month-long trial run of the Population and Housing Census which is due to be completed in 2021.

On December 30, Statistics Estonia will start its test survey to check readiness for the forthcoming census.

Director General of Statistics Estonia Mart Mägi said an invitation to answer to the test questionnaire will be sent to people in eight counties.

"For the test questionnaire, we have selected different regions and dwelling types across Estonia. The sample includes apartment buildings, terraced houses, private houses, as well as summer cottages and a care home. On December 30, a notification letter in three languages is sent out by mail, and if there is an e-mail address in the population register, also a personal e-mail is sent," said Mägi.

The test survey is divided into two parts: e-census (December 30, 2020 - January 15, 2021) and interview census (January 20-31) where interviewers will call the people who did not participate in the e-census or did not fill in the questionnaire correctly.

Everyone who receives a notification can answer the test questionnaire in Statistics Estonia's electronic environment eSTAT (estat.stat.ee) starting from 00:00 on December 30.

Mägi said the expectation of Statistics Estonia is that at least 70 percent of the participants respond online, as appropriate for an "e-state".

"We understand that not everyone has the possibility to do that, and we will contact these people by phone as we are trying to avoid home visits during the coronavirus pandemic," added Mägi. 

Statistics Estonia obtains the majority of the data necessary for the Population and Housing Census from state databases. People will only have to answer a few questions for which there are no answers in any of the registers.

An e-questionnaire can be filled in about one person in less than ten minutes. Adults answer questions about themselves. Parents can respond about minors living at the same address.

"The test survey is important for the success of the 2021 population and housing census. Each person participating in the test survey will be able to give feedback to Statistics Estonia, which helps improve the census process before the main census. The main goal is to check the different survey methods and notifying of people, how people understand the questionnaire and how the technology functions," said Mägi.

Both, the test survey and the census itself will include questions on the knowledge of foreign languages and dialects, religion and limitations due to health problems.

All of the data collected from the population and housing census test questionnaire is protected through the application of the principles of statistical confidentiality and personal data protection requirements.

To evaluate the register-based part of the census, Statistics Estonia organised two pilot census, the fist in 2016 and the second in 2019. Both pilot censuses confirmed that all of the data obtained from registers correspond to international quality requirements.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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