Symposium 2001

18 October 2001


English only


Symposium on Global Review of 2000 Round of

Population and Housing Censuses: 

Mid-Decade Assessment and Future Prospects

Statistics Division

Department of Economic and Social Affairs

United Nations Secretariat

New York, 7-10 August 2001




  Agenda of the meeting





United Nations Symposium

Global Review of 2000 Round of Population and Housing Censuses:

Mid-decade Assessment and Future Prospects




Venue:            Conference Room 6 in the

                        United Nations General Assembly Building


Tuesday, 7 August 2001


9:30 a.m.         Registration of participants, Conference Room 6


Morning Session (10:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)                


Opening of the meeting        


Strategies for involving stakeholders in census activities


What methods do census organizations use to build a consensus among all parties concerned to insure the availability of reliable and timely data for dissemination? Who are the stakeholders i.e. those organisations/offices with interest or concern in census results?  What is the role of stakeholders in the collection, dissemination, planning and use of population data? What roles do statistical offices provide to stakeholders in the selection and development of topics to be included in the census questionnaire? What are the methods used to limit topics in the census questionnaire to essentials?  Under what conditions are clients’ demands for census information met?


Main paper: Symposium2001/02 and related statements of countries and organisations.


1:00–3:00 p.m.                        Lunch Break


Afternoon Session      (3:00- 6:00 p.m.)


Strategies involving stakeholders in census activities (continued)


Strategies for choosing among data collection methods of demographic and social statistics: censuses, surveys and administrative records


(a)   Data collection methods


How can national statistical offices decide upon the most efficient and effective data sources for population and social statistics, taking into account, costs, donors, periodicity, geographic coverage, respondent burden, timeliness, content and statutory considerations? 

It is sometimes suggested that it may not be necessary to continue conducting censuses because other alternative sources can provide the required information. Another school of thought argues for complementing the census with other alternative sources of information such as sample surveys and administrative records.  This session compares the pros and cons of implementing traditional censuses versus alternative methods and strategies of data collection.


Main paper: Symposium2001/03 and related statements of countries and organisations.


(b)   Cost efficiencies


In recent years, the escalating costs of planning, collecting, processing and disseminating census data have at times impeded and constrained census programmes.  Yet under these circumstances, other census programmes succeed. What are the methods that census organisers have used to rationalise census costs to their stakeholders? What are the costs, benefits and controversies of limiting census questionnaires to a small set of basic questions? What are the factors that allow censuses to be implemented even when there are serious financial constraints?  How can census programmes be made efficient and effective under limited funding? What are some of the strategies that have been tried?


Main papers: 


a) Symposium2001/04

b) Symposium2001/05F

c) and related statements of  countries and organisations.


Wednesday, 8 August 2001


9.15 a.m.         Statistical Networking


This session is available for consultations, interaction and demonstrations


Morning Session (10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)


Adapting new technologies to census operations


It is difficult to anticipate all the necessary administrative and methodological requirements of applying new technology in the conduct of censuses. How should countries make informed choices in selecting appropriate technology? There are also problems related to high cost of equipment, access to maintenance, and lack of necessary expertise. What are the most appropriate methods, so far tried, to effectively adapt to the emerging demands for new technologies while maintaining the integrity of the existing data collection systems? How should outsourcing, of some census activities such as data processing, be managed? How should confidentiality issues be handled in such circumstances?


Main paper: Symposium2001/06 and related statements of countries and organisations.


1:00- 3:00 p.m.           Lunch Break


Afternoon session (3:00-6:00 p.m.)


Adapting new technologies to census operations (Continued…)


Identifying and resolving problems of:


(a)   Census mapping


What successful approaches have been adopted by census organizations to improve mapping? Common problems include poorly timed execution of the mapping exercises; lack of adequate training of field staff; treatment of mapping as a completely separate operation from the census; incomplete mapping; outdated maps; generation of poor frames for surveys and lack of a solid base for developing the geographic information system (GIS).


Main paper: Symposium2001/08 and related statement of countries and organisations.

(b)        Enumeration


What are the most common problems that census organisations face when deciding on the method of enumeration to use in censuses? How do census organisers decide on the best method of enumeration? What are the circumstances and conditions that affect their decision? What are the factors that census managers consider when deciding who should be engaged as enumerators and supervisors? When do enumerators fail? What are the factors that influence the timing and logistics of enumeration? How have census organisers adapted their enumeration plans to crisis management, e.g. political strife, major illness outbreaks, natural disasters etc.?




Symposium2001/9 and related statement of countries and organisations.



6.30 p.m.                     Dinner



Thursday, 9 August 2001


9.15 a.m.                     Statistical Networking


This session is available for consultations, interaction and demonstration.


Morning Session  (10:00 a.m.-1:00-p.m.)


Maintaining census related activities during  intercensal years


What are the most effective methods census planners have used to manage institutional memory and archiving of census activities? While recognizing that not all structures created during the census can be retained during the intercensal period which core structures and activities should be retained and why?  Where are the optimal locations of census materials and archives during the period between censuses? What factors affect the optimization process?


Main papers:   


a)      Symposium2001/07;

b)      Symposium2001/25;

c)  and related statements of countries and organisations.


1:00-3:00 p.m.            Lunch Break


1:00-3.00pm.               United Nations Tour


Afternoon session (3:00-6:00 p.m.)


Data Evaluation


(a)   Post Enumeration Surveys: Are they worth it or not?


Conventionally, countries have undertaken post enumeration surveys (PES) to evaluate coverage and content errors, however, the administrative and management burden of planning for PES may be taxing, especially, while still managing the larger census activities.  A proper PES is, in many cases, constrained by the lack of proper institutional arrangements to facilitate independence of operations from the census activities.  Besides, in many instances basic information, e.g. maps, household listings are inaccurate. How have such constraints been minimised?  In addition, there may be analytical problems and ambivalence in usage of PES results.  For example, what are the various pitfalls and implications of adjusting census results based on the PES? In view of the above, under what conditions is it worth the cost and the trouble to conduct a PES?  Does a PES serve the purposes intended?                  


Main paper: Symposium2001/10 and related statements of countries and organisations.



(b) Demographic analysis


What are the data requirements for better use of demographic analysis as a method of enumeration? Issues of data quality, completeness, availability and expertise in the use of the method.  Can demographic analysis be stand-alone method or does it become effective only when used in conjunction of other methods such as PES? How widely is this method used in developing countries?


Main paper: Symposium2001/11 and related statements of countries and organisations.



Friday, 10 August


Morning session (10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)


Mapping out strategies for completing the current round of Population and Housing Censuses and the implementation of the next round


This session will come up with recommendations for successfully completing the current round of censuses and map out strategies for planning and conducting the next round of censuses. What lessons have been learned from the current round? How can the lessons be used to improve the 2010 round of censuses?


Major points from each session will be discussed in the context of programmes for future censuses.


1:00 - 3:00 p.m.                   Lunch Break


Afternoon session (3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.)                                                                


Mapping out strategies (continued)