|Importance of questions asked (pdf 45KB)
|About the Questionnaire :
Much emphasis has been placed on the need for a population census to help government direct its development programmes, but less has been written about how the census questionnaire is compiled.
The main focus of a population and housing census is to take stock and produce a total count of the population without omission or duplication. Another major focus is to be able to provide accurate demographic and socio-economic characteristics pertaining to each individual enumerated. Apart from individuals, the focus is on collecting accurate data on housing characteristics and services.
A population and housing census provides data needed to facilitate informed decision-making as far as policy formulation and implementation are concerned, as well as to monitor and evaluate their programmes at the smallest area level possible. It is therefore important that Statistics South Africa collects statistical data that comply with the United Nations recommendations and other relevant stakeholder needs.
The United Nations underscores the following factors in determining the selection of topics to be investigated in population censuses:
In addition, the UN stipulates that census-takers should avoid collecting information that is no longer required simply because it was traditionally collected in the past, but rather focus on key demographic, social and socio-economic variables.
It becomes necessary, therefore, in consultation with a broad range of users of census data, to review periodically the topics traditionally investigated and to re-evaluate the need for the series to which they contribute, particularly in the light of new data needs and alternative data sources that may have become available for investigating topics formerly covered in the population census.
It was against this background that Statistics South Africa conducted user consultations in 2008 after the release of some of the Community Survey products. However, some groundwork in relation to core questions recommended by all countries in Africa has been done.
In line with users’ meetings, the crucial demands of the Millennium
Accuracy of data depends on a well-designed questionnaire that is short and to the point. The interview to complete the questionnaire should not take longer than 18 minutes per household. Accuracy also depends on the diligence of the enumerator and honesty of the respondent.
On the other hand, disadvantaged populations, owing to their small numbers, are best covered in the census and not in household sample surveys.
Variables such as employment/unemployment, religion, income, and language are more accurately covered in household surveys than in censuses.
Users’/stakeholders’ input in terms of providing information in the planning phase of the census is crucial in making it a success. However, the information provided should be within the scope of the census.