Statistics Estonia to decide the population census method at the end of the year

Posted on 21 January 2019, 10:00

Statistics Estonia will decide at the end of this year whether the 2021 Population and Housing Census will be register-based. The decision will be made based on the results and quality of the ongoing second trial census.

The Population and Housing Census is a statistical activity approved by the Government of the Republic. According to international principles, its method and the sources used are chosen by Statistics Estonia. A second trial census is currently being conducted in Estonia with 31 December 2018 as the moment of census. Based on its results and quality, Statistics Estonia will decide on the census method at the end of the year.

For the first time in the history of Estonia, Statistics Estonia is planning to conduct the 2021 Population and Housing Census based solely on register data. This means that information will not be asked directly from people but the results are obtained based on the information available in national registers. This is where the census gets its name – Register-based Population and Housing Census (REGREL). Estonia is the tenth country in the world organising a register-based population and housing census. So far Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Island, Norway, Sweden, Slovenia, Finland and Denmark have done that.

For the census to be successful, Statistics Estonia is organising two trial censuses. The trial censuses serve to identify issues and eliminate shortcomings. The first trial census took place in 2016 and the second one is taking place in 2019.

Every country can freely choose its census method as long as quality requirements are met. Since 2010, Statistics Estonia has been making methodological and IT-related preparations for organising the 2021 Population and Housing Census based on registers. Estonia has a great system of national registers that include data on all inhabitants. It is logical to use these data for census as well as for other official statistical activities.

In organising the census, Statistics Estonia is cooperating with at least 24 registers. In addition to the main registers (Population Register, the registers of the Land Board, the Tax and Customs Board and the Health Insurance Fund), information in other state databases is used to improve results and increase accuracy.

The final decision about the suitability of the census method can be made after the development activities for the register-based census methodology, which is being tested in the second trial census in 2019, have been completed. See /uudised/rahvaloendus (in Estonian).