Censuses in countries other than the US

I realized the other night that I am unaware of how other countries conduct their censuses. Here in the US, we do it every 10 years and there are a lot of political ramifications…Congress seats, federal aid, etc.

How do other countries handle their censuses? How often are they, and are they also tied to political reasons?

Well, the ancient Romans held censuses.

Wikipedia has a great article about how it’s done in different countries. Here.

We have one every five years. It’s handled by Statiscics Canada.

I did the Census in 1980, some guy told me “It’s a communist idea!” I forgot to tell him it’s in the constitution.

I worked the Census in 80 & 90.

One woman thought that the questions on the Homeless meant that “the Government is going to force us to have Homeless people and foreigners live with us.”:eek:

It’s every five years in Australia, conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

There used to be general censuses in France every…7 years, I think.

But some years ago they replaced that by a census by sampling, conducted, if I’m not mistaken, every year, but only on a small fraction of the population (10%???) in large municipalities (every inch of French soil belongs to a municipality), and on a larger fraction (20%???) of the population, but not every year, in small municipalities.

ETA : Census results are very important locally, but more for subventions, public funding, infrastructure, etc… than for purely political reasons.

The Irish census is carried out approximately every 5 years and the results are used for planning and resource allocation.

In the census, the aim is to count each person who is in the premises (and, in aggregate, each person in the country, including ships in territorial waters) at a particular snapshot date and time. If someone is normally resident in the house, but absent at midnight on the particular date, you do not include them; if a visitor is present (even a foreign guest), they are included. If someone arrives at your house the next morning, and has not been counted anywhere else because they were on the road, you include them too.

Do other countries do it the same way or do you count the people who are normally resident?

The UK does it every 10 years, with the next in 2011.

The political implications are fairly minor. It does feed into the drawing up of parliamentary constituencies and various allocations of resources, but the whole process isn’t as politicised as in the US. We just tend to regard it as an obviously worthwhile function of central government.
I do know someone who works for the government agency that conducts it and thus am aware that they were having some big internal argument about how to phrase a religion question for 2011. But the issue was technical and I forget the details.

If anything, the big issue around UK censuses in recent years has been digitising and releasing the historic ones. Genealogists getting all excited in anticipation, only for the website to collapse on launch day, has been seen as an obvious delivery shortfall.

The OP might be interested to know that many US States had censuses every 5 to 10 years. If you get an Ancestry.com account you can search a very large number of them.

This is all very interesting. I especially like how Germany decided their census was too intrusive, so now they’ve gone to sampling, which is a whole 'nuther debate.

I have access to various British (both UK & Irish) censuses through Ancestry World. If you have any questions about a specific one, let me know. (I think there are censuses of non English speaking countries as well though I’m not sure how much I’d be able to access without speaking the language.)

… and yes, the government bases many decisions on them (where to build schools and hospitals etc), and redistribution of electoral districts are triggered by them. But it is by no means a political issue here, the Bureau doesn’t seem to have been caught up in politics like it is in the US at the moment.

I am currently in Kyrgyzstan, and they are getting ready to do a census. Takes 8 working days. Not sure how often they do them. They are going to ask “18 bio-data related questions and 13 hoursing related questions” As I don’t speak russian or kyrgyz it will be interesting when they stop by.


Every 10 years in India.

The data is used by government to launch various employments schemes and the like .

Yes, the political implications are minor, as it’s run by civil servants at the Office for National Statistics, without direct control by politicians. However, it’s got huge and mostly unnoticed implications for funding, as it affects the allocation of money from central government to local authorities for the next decade.

Was it “How do we discourage several thousand idiots from claiming to be Jedi Knights?”

In Sweden, the government (through the Central Bureau of Statistics) keep track of all births and deaths and all Swedes are required to register the address where they are living. So there is really no need to carry out a census, because they already know.

New Zealand here. Our census is taken every 5 yrs (I love census time mostly because I love filling in forms! Weird I know). The whole Jedi Knights thing was big here but mostly because we have a large percentage of atheists/agnostics. People felt the need to take the piss when answering the religion question; Jedi seemed pissworthy for many.

Not me, comfortably atheist and loather of sci-fi, but the whole Jedi thing made me chuckle.