The first population and housing census in re-independent Estonia was carried out from 31 March to 9 April in 2000. The Census was prepared and conducted according to the recommendations of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat), which guarantee that the census data are internationally comparable. Also the comparability with the data of previous censuses carried out in Estonia was taken into account.
The Statistical Office was responsible for conducting the Census. According to the order of the Government of the Republic, a Census committee of the Government of the Republic was established on 28 February 1995 to co-ordinate the work related to Census on government level. The Committee, which was presided by the Minister of Finance, included ministers, representatives of state agencies (including the Statistical Office) and local governments. Proposals concerning the time of the Census, as well as the draft budget and draft Census Act were worked out in the Statistical Office. The Population Census Act was approved by the Riigikogu on 13 May 1998. Pursuant to the Act, census committees were set up in all counties and five cities — Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Narva and Kohtla-Järve. Also local governments had an important role in preparing the Population Census.
In 1996 preparations for the Pilot Census started. The Pilot Census was conducted in a few regions of Estonia. The sample was formed of, as different as possible, counties and cities. The Pilot Census was organised in six cities (Tallinn, Narva, Paldiski, Viljandi, Jõgeva and Kärdla) and in seven rural municipalities (Käina, Keila, Jõgeva, Saarepeedi, Tarvastu, Toila and Vaivara) in March 1998. The Pilot Census enumerated 9,791 permanent residents, 3,674 private households and 4,233 conventional dwellings.
To introduce the purpose, organisation and substance of the Population Census, a national advertising campaign was arranged. Competitions were organised for creating the Census logo and poster. In 1999 the Patent Office published the brand of population census logo, which was used in designing the advertisements and publications. The advertising campaign was worked out in cooperation with the AGE Reklaam Ltd.
The purpose of the Census was to collect data relating to the size, composition and distribution of the population of the state and to housing in the state, and to publish the Census results. The moment of the Census was 00.00 on 31 March 2000; the data collected in the Census reflect the characteristics of housing and of the population as of the moment of the Census.
The content of the Census data and the data collection methods were developed in the Statistical Office in cooperation with the experts of different fields. Regulation of the Government of the Republic 5 March 1999 approved the Census questionnaire and Census rules, and forms of Census questionnaires.
The Census covered:
- persons who were in the Republic of Estonia at the moment of the Census (March 31, at 00.00) (excluding the diplomatic staff of foreign diplomatic missions and consular posts and their family members and persons in active service in foreign army);
- persons who resided in the Republic of Estonia but who were in foreign states temporarily for a term of up to one year;
- diplomatic staff of diplomatic missions and consular posts of the Republic of Estonia and their family members, who were in a foreign state at the moment of the Census;
- residential buildings and other buildings used for habitation, and apartments and other dwellings situated therein (excluding buildings of foreign diplomatic missions and consular posts and dwellings situated therein).
The 2000 Population and Housing Census was a traditional census in the sense that it was conducted by the method of face-to-face interviews. In order to organise a Census, the following territorial Census units were formed on the basis of workload standards established for Census staff: Census districts, supervision areas and enumeration areas. Census units were formed on the basis of Census maps and lists of inhabitants.
Census maps needed for the 2000 Population and Housing Census were made as digital vector maps, which also serve as a basis in presenting Census results in a cartographic way. Census maps and maps for Census units were created in co-operation with the companies Eesti Kaardikeskus Ltd and Regio Ltd, and local governments.
5,400 enumerators, 1,050 supervisors and 161 heads of Census districts carried out the fieldwork of the Census. All Census staff was trained previously.
1,370,052 permanent residents were enumerated, 67.9% of them were Estonians. Compared with the results of the previous, 1989 Census the population number of Estonia had decreased by 195,610 persons or 12.5%. There were 582,089 private households and 617,399 conventional dwellings.
For evaluating the coverage of the Census and the quality of the Census data, a post-enumeration sample survey was organised. It covered about 1% of the population and a stratified random sample of enumeration areas was drawn. The survey was carried out from 14 to 19 April 2000 in 50 enumeration areas. Comparison of the Census data and the data collected in the post-enumeration survey showed that the undercoverage of the Census was on an average 1.2%.
Two scanners were used for optical data entry. The application software for data processing were worked out in co-operation with the company AS AboBase Systems and based on Oracle tools. The scanning of the Census questionnaires was performed in 2000 from 10 May to 22 September. During that period 3,505,451 questionnaires were scanned. 135 operators who had passed the training were engaged in the data processing.
The results of the 2000 Population Census are available electronically (public database) and also in printed format. All publications of 2000 Population and Housing Census are available also on the web site of the Statistical Office and they present statistics on population, dwellings, buildings containing dwellings and living conditions of the population in Estonia as a whole and by administrative units.
The Census data are confidential and used only for statistical purposes. The results received on the basis of these data are published in accordance with the Data Protection Law.