Measuring the Economically Active in Population Censuses

A Handbook

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The Handbook provides guidance on the measurement of economic characteristics in population censuses, based on relevant experiences of countries, with a particular focus on the questions used and the requirements for processing of responses. The Handbook is intended to provide census planners with a variety of approaches to assess the questions and methods of collecting economic characteristics used in their national census, as they evaluate the performance in the past decade and plan for the 2010 round of censuses (2005-2014). Users of census results may also find the present text useful when evaluating the quality of census results.

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The population census as a frame for household-based censuses and surveys of agricultural and small-scale economic units

One of the main uses of the population census for sample surveys is to provide sampling frames for different types of surveys following the census. That application is widely recognized in the case of labour force and other household or population-based surveys. However, it is less commonly appreciated that it applies equally to economic surveys, in particular of small-scale establishments, in both the agricultural and nonagricultural sectors. Indeed, that is also true of what are often referred to as agricultural and economic censuses. Outside the population field the term “census” or “sample census” is commonly used to refer to operations that are not in fact a complete enumeration of all units in the study population but include a probability sample. For example, most agricultural censuses are conducted on a sample basis, albeit often on a large scale. Similarly, although censuses of economic establishments cover large and medium-sized units on a 100 per cent basis, it is often reasonable as well as practically unavoidable for them to cover the numerous small establishments only on a sample basis.

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