Thursday, October 29, 2009

EU Census Question Requirements

On 20 February 2008 the European Parliament approved a Council (Framework) Census Regulation covering the harmonization of outputs from member states’ censuses of population and housing. This took affect when it was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 9 July 2008. The regulation provides for the specification of outputs, the means of submission of these to Eurostat, and the requirement to provide metadata and quality reports, to be prescribed by subordinate Commission (Implementing) Regulations. These are currently being drafted with input from the EU Legislation Task Force of which the UK is a member.

The Council Regulation which prescribes the reference year for the next round of censuses as being 2011. Thereafter, reference years will be determined by subsequent Commission Regulations. The Regulation also requires Member States to make available the results of their census by end of March 2014. The Framework Regulation is intended to be a permanent piece of legislation concerned with establishing common rules for the decennial provision of comprehensive population and housing data to be collected from traditional census taking or from alternative sources such as surveys and registers, or from combinations of such sources. The topics which are specified by the Regulation cover:
  • Place of usual residence
  • Size of locality of usual residence (urban/rural)
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Economic activity status
  • Occupation
  • Industry
  • Employment status
  • Workplace
  • Educational attainment
  • Country of birth
  • Country of citizenship
  • Ever resided abroad and year of entry into country
  • Place of usual residence 1 year before census
  • Relationship within household
  • Status within household
  • Status within family
  • Type of housing arrangement
  • Tenure status of household
  • Type of household
  • Size of household
  • Type of family
  • Size of family
  • Type of living quarters
  • Type of ownership
  • Location of living quarters
  • Occupancy status
  • Floor space/Number of rooms
  • Density standard of accommodation
  • Housing amenities (water supply, toilet facilities, bathing facilities, type of heating)
  • Type of dwelling
  • Period of construction
More details about the Framework Regulation and the implications for topic content in the 2011 Census are detailed in an article published in Population Trends 128.

Further EU legislation

The UK is an active participant in an EU Census Legislation Task Force which is advising the European Commission on the scope and content of the proposed Implementing Regulations. The Commission Regulations will set out in separate regulations:
  • The detail of the programme of statistical data and metadata to be provided to Eurostat by member states from the 2011 round of European censuses (based on the core topics specified by the Council Framework Regulation). Eurostat currently propose that these will be provided in the form of sets of 'hypercubes' of cross-variables at various geographical levels
  • The classifications of the categories and technical specification for the topics to be covered in statistical programme
  • The measures of quality assessment to be reported on. The statistical detail of the outputs to be provided by member states will be set out in secondary Implementing Regulations, to be prepared by the European Commission later this year.
Formal consultation on these issues went out to member states in March 2008 and were discussed at a meeting of the EU Census Working Group on 9-10 September 2008. ONS is liaising with GROS and NISRA in order to present a UK view. Eurostat has also announced initial proposals for a European Census Hub by which member states could ‘pull’ the 2011 Census data specified in the Implementing Regulation. The difficulty of achieving common specifications and applying comparable statistical disclosure control methodologies across the 27 member states has been recognized as a major obstacle. Italy and Ireland have offered to take part in the pilot phase of the project by offering to make a sample of their latest census data available. Further countries have been invited to participate to this pilot phase, and ONS has agreed to prepare a submission to Eurostat setting out its own current thinking on the possibilities for similar domestic access to 2011 Census outputs.



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