Census: Interview stage ends, data collection from registers continues

Estonian census taker in 2022.
Estonian census taker in 2022. Source: Statistics Estonia

Monday marked the end of the second stage of Estonia's 2021 national Population and Housing Census, where data was collected from people living at addresses included in the mandatory sample. The survey component of the census has ended, however data collection from various registers will continue through July.

"We are grateful to everyone who spared their valuable time to voluntarily complete the e-questionnaire or participate in the mandatory survey," Population and Housing Census project manager Liina Osila said according to a Statistics Estonia press release.

According to Osila, the population census is the only survey that provides the statistics agency with a snapshot of life in Estonia at a given moment and allows for the study of trends in Estonia over time or compared with other countries.

"The insights gained from the census are used by local governments and the state to make informed decisions and improve life in Estonia, so everyone's contribution matters," she added.

Data collected during the survey stage is now being processed, and the register-based census, which will involve the collection of data from sate registers, will continue through July.

The project manager noted that this census was different in terms of both the methodology used and the general circumstances during the census period.

"The new methodology, in which we combine register-based data collection with an online questionnaire and a mandatory random sample, was quite the challenge for us," Osila said. "We had to be flexible and adapt quickly both in the preparatory stage and during the survey stage. Due to the pandemic, we were unable to make traditional home visits. Society was also grappling with an energy crisis, price hikes as well as a security crisis, all happening at the same time as the population census."

She added that the current crisis situation was part of the reason why a number of respondents were unwilling to provide their data over the phone.

"All things considered, the interview stage of the census was a success," Osila continued. "An important factor is that, for the first time, the population census is based on registers, which helps minimize the potential impact of various crises on census results. Beginning in 2025, data collection with annual register-based population censuses is planned throughout the EU."

Nearly 600,000 people were enumerated using the online census questionnaire. The sample survey continued in February with phone interviews in order to collect responses from people living at mandatory sample addresses — an estimated more than 61,000 people. Their answers together with all completed e-census forms will be taken into account and supplemented with additional data obtained from some 30 different registers.

Statistics Estonia expects to publish initial census results in June already, with further releases scheduled through the end of 2022.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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