Statistics Council

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Statistics Council Statement on Census 2001 PDF
Statistics Council Sub-Committee Comment on the Census 2001 results Preliminary investigations indicate that the 2001 census probably resulted in:

  • an underestimate of the number of children below age five*
  • an over-estimate of the number of teenagers aged between 10 and 20
  • an underestimate of the number of men relative to the number of women*
  • an underestimate of the number in the white population
  • higher than expected numbers aged 80 and older, in the African population
  • an underestimate of the number of foreign-born, since some identified themselves incorrectly as being South African-born
  • age misstatement in the range 60-74
  • an overestimate of the extent of unemployment
  • an underestimate of those who were employed for only a few hours per week
  • an underestimate of household income
  • an overestimate the number of paternal orphans and the number of fathers missing from the household.

In addition:

Scanning problems caused some births to be recorded in the wrong province. The number of  cases is relatively small and should not lead to too much distortion for most purposes for which these data are used; however, it does produce obviously erroneous results in when one tries to estimate the extent of inter-provincial migration of those born since the previous census.

  • The fertility data (numbers of children ever born, children surviving) are problematic.

For further details of these investigations see the full report of the

This is a common feature of censuses, particularly in developing countries.

Labour Market Data The census produces lower estimates of labour force participation than September 2001 Labour Force Survey. There is possible under-reporting of employment in the informal and subsistence agriculture sectors, particularly among those working only a few hours per week. The labour force survey questionnaire includes more prompts to clarify these issues, which is not possible during census enumeration. The United Nations and the International Labour Organisation note that labour force surveys are expected to produce more reliable estimates of labour market variables than censuses. Note that the labour force survey figures of September 2001 are the official labour market statistics for the period.