Censuses Abroad

Population and housing censuses are conducted in almost all countries of the world. In some countries, this type of statistical inquiry is only focused on population; in others, on the contrary, farming, health care or other surveys are held along with a population census. While in our country the public was allowed, for the first time in history, to choose whether to have a Census Taker to bring the Census Sheet(s) to their homes in paper form or whether to complete the form(s) electronically over the Internet, some foreign countries also use the postal service (citizens send their filled out census sheets to census bureaus) and telephone interviewing for census taking purposes.

Most countries, including the Slovak Republic, apply the traditional census-taking method of so-called self-enumeration. However, there are countries (e.g. Denmark, Finland, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Slovenia or Iceland) where official registers serve as basis for census taking. Those registers are continuously being added and updated. There are also countries where statistical data are collected using a combination of traditional census taking and selective survey or a combination of register-based counting and selective survey. On the other hand, Belgium, Latvia, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland combine register-based counting with traditional census-taking methods. In other countries around the world, we could also find a combination of register-based census, selective survey and traditional census-taking; in France, they apply a so-called “rotative census” method – which can be viewed as a form of convenient survey with alternating sample selections.

Not only at first reading, but in real life, too, a population and housing census is a very demanding type of statistical survey (in terms of finance, organization and time consumption); that is why it is only conducted once in several years. Most countries use a 10-year interval – this type of interval has been chosen by almost all EU Member Countries, including Slovakia. Population censuses in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Canada, and Ireland are conducted once in five years; the new rotative census has been taking place in France on an annual basis since 2004. As EUROSTAT (European Statistical Office) intends to collect internationally comparable data, census sheets in EU countries (but also elsewhere in the Old Continent) contain very similar, or nearly identical in patches, inquiries. Should you feel that we, in Slovakia, ask too many questions, you may “change your mind“ a bit after reading these survey questions asked in some other countries around the world:

New Zealand

  • Have you ever smoked on a regular basis (one or more days)?
  • Indicate all sources of income over the previous twelve months


  • Indicate your income
  • Write down your telephone number (for purposes of census only)


  • Do you grow any crop? If yes, indicate the area (sq. meters)
  • Do you have any animals? If yes, how many

Cyprus, Vietnam, Iran…

  • Can you read and write?


  • Physical condition: normal, disabled


  • Do you have any mental or physical disabilities or other health issues that might affect your ability to work, study?
  • Questions designed to find out about the use of the English and French languages with the aim to determine the number of residents born in Canada and the number of immigrants.


  • How many automobiles do you own or use for personal purposes (including business)?
  • At what time do you usually leave for work or school in the morning?


  • Indicate the currency in which you receive your income (US dollar, euro, NIS-new Israeli shekel, other)

Source: the Internet

There are different customs in different countries, which indeed applies to population censuses. We found the shortest census form in the United States of America; it only contains 10 questions designed to collect information from ethnic minorities living in the U.S. Contrary to that, one of the longest census questionnaires can be found in Israel. It includes 90 questions. One curiosity about our western neighbors’ (the Czech Republic) census questionnaires is the question that they have included in the sheet – besides the Czech and Slovak languages as mother tongue, one can also check the answer “sign language”. Our Census Sheets (A. Data on Population, B. Data on Apartment, C. Data on Housing) contained a total of 52 questions; all answers were required.

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