Census could be Estonia's next big success story

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 met with technology experts and analysts to present the technical solution for the Register-based Population and Housing Census 2021 on Thursday.

"Estonia is ready for a high-quality and money-saving census that will take full advantage of the opportunities available in the e-state," said Mart Mägi, Director General of Statistics Estonia, introducing the work done by Statistics Estonia and the registrars during the 10-year period.

"The 2021 Population and Housing census, which will make maximum use of the registers and the country's information technology capabilities, could be Estonia's next success story", Mägi pointed out.

In the census, Statistics Estonia will use data from at least 24 registers, and cooperation with them started almost ten years ago.

"We created a model how to contribute to the improvement of the quality of data in the registers, and also developed original methods to overcome bottlenecks in the register-based census. As a result of effective cooperation, Estonia's system of national registers is currently one of the best in the world," Mägi emphasized.

Diana Beltadze, project manager for the register-based census at Statistics Estonia, pointed out that the system of registers in Estonia is very suitable for national statistics: the records are identified, different registries are connected to each other, the data are comprehensive and regularly updated, and there is a working information exchange environment, X-Road.

"The national registers provide the mandatory census information for the European Union countries on the person's identity, family and housing," Beltadze explained. "High-quality registry data enable to reduce data collection and provide an opportunity for IT enterprises to offer new e-services based on the registers," she explained.

International census expert Eric Schulte Nordholt from Statistics Netherlands also participated in the meeting. He has given presentations about censuses in various countries worldwide and has advised Estonia on the preparation of the register-based census since 2009. The Netherlands has been conducting register-based censuses since the 1980s.

"In developed countries more and more censuses make use of registers. In Europe for the Census 2021 Round hardly any traditional censuses are foreseen," he pointed out.

Commenting on the main problem of the Estonian registers, he underlined that "There will always be a difference between registered and actual place of living. It is important to have high quality information on place of living. Therefore, it is common to improve the quality of the population register. The model-based approach in Estonia is a good example how to improve the data quality."

The 2021 Population and Housing Census is planned to be organised for the first time in the history of Estonia based on the registers. This means that the results are based on information from the national databases or registers.

The Population and Housing Census is a statistical activity approved by the Government of the Republic of Estonia, the method and the sources to be used will be chosen by Statistics Estonia in accordance with international principles. The second pilot census currently ongoing in Estonia started on 31 December 2018, and based on its results and quality, Statistics Estonia will decide on the census method at the end of the year.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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