Statistics Estonia: First 2021 census dataset to be released in June

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

While the survey stage of Estonia's 2021 national Population and Housing Census ended on February 28, the census process has continued with the collection and analysis of data from various registers. The first dataset on population composition is slated to be published at the beginning of June.

Scheduled for release by Statistics Estonia in early June, the first census dataset will concern the distribution and age-sex structure as well as the citizenship, ethnic nationality and native language of the population of Estonia. The next release, to follow in July, will provide housing data, followed by education data in August.

Releases on several other topics are scheduled through the end of 2022, including data collected with the sample survey concerning religious beliefs, self-reported health and knowledge of languages to be published in November.

The Statistical Council on Wednesday discussed the progress of the 2021 census, the release of census data as well as possible future improvements, Statistics Estonia said in a press release on Friday.

This census differed from previous censuses as respondents did not have to complete a lengthy questionnaire, as the majority of the data is being obtained from more than 30 different centralized registers and databases. Continuing through the end of the year, this data collection will cover a wide range of domains, including the Population Register and the National Register of Buildings, but also the Estonian Education Information System and the Employment Register.

"The census began at the end of last year, and we are now in the stage of collecting and analyzing register data," Population and Housing Census project manager Liina Osila said in a statement to the council. "We can already assure you that all people in Estonia will  be counted using registers. The information of 600,000 people who responded voluntarily is also a guarantee of a successful census."

According to Osila, it is now necessary to analyze what can be learned from the survey stage of the census.

"The new methodology adopted for this census — i.e. register-based data collection combined with an e-census and a mandatory random sample — and the feedback we received from people indicate that we should definitely consider making the transition to fully register-based censuses," she said. "Given the ongoing COVID-19, energy and security crises, there were some respondents in the mandatory sample who were not willing to further share their data with the state. It was also assumed that, in our digital society, the necessary data would all be available in registers."

Osila explained that most of the data for this census is indeed being obtained from registers, and that it took very little time to answer the additional questions. "The completion of the questionnaire required a minimal amount of time, which encouraged a large number of voluntary responses," she highlighted. "Current social developments and the current security situation clearly indicate that the need for specific data can arise quite suddenly and often, which is why we still support the idea of using registers to collect up-to-date information required by the state. With such a system, the necessary data would be available at any time."

In the first stage of the census, which began in late 2021, 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.

The Statistical Council, which is tasked with advising and monitoring Estonia's official statistics system, includes representatives from various ministries, state institutions, scientific bodies and businesses.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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