Population size and density
|Concepts and definitions|
|Total population (paras. 2.42.- 2.48.)|
|Sex (para. 131.)|
|Age (paras. 121.- 129.)|
purposes, the total population of the country consists of all the
persons falling within the scope of the census. In the broadest
sense, the total may comprise either all usual
In practice, however, countries do not usually achieve either type of count, because one or another group of the population is included or excluded, depending on national circumstances, despite the fact that the general term used to describe the total might imply a treatment opposite to the one given any of these groups. It is recommended, therefore, that each country describe in detail the figure accepted officially as the total, rather than simply label it as de jure or de facto.
The description should show clearly whether each group listed below was or was not counted in the total. If the group was enumerated, its magnitude should be given; if it was not enumerated, an estimate of its size should be given, if possible. If any group is not represented at all in the population, this fact should be stated and the magnitude of the group should be shown as "zero". This may occur particularly with groups (a),(b), (d ) and (n) described below.
The groups to be considered are:
In the case of groups (h) and (m), it is recommended that an indication be given of the criteria used in determining that presence in, or absence from, the country is temporary.
In those countries where the total population figure has been corrected for underenumeration or overenumeration, both the enumerated figure and the estimated corrected populationfigure should be shown and described. The detailed tabulations will of necessity be based only on the actual enumerated population.
Sex is a basic characteristic needed to describe a newborn child, a decedent or a foetal death. Data should be categorized into “male” and “female”, and in case of a foetal death, the category “unknown” is also appropriate.
Age is the interval of time between the day, month and year of birth and the day, month and year of occurrence of the event, expressed in the largest completed unit of solar time, such as years for adults and children, and months, weeks, days, hours or minutes of life, as appropriate, for infants under one year of age. Every effort should be made to ascertain the precise age of each person.
Information on age may be secured either by obtaining the year, month, day and hour of birth or by asking directly for “age at the last birthday”. The first method usually yields more precise information but may be difficult to use in the case of illiterate respondents. Additional data processing is necessary to convert “year-month-day of birth” into “completed years of age”, but the results are usually more accurate provided that the exact date of birth is known to the respondent.
The direct question on age at last birthday is more economical to process but may yield less precise results since it more easily permits approximate replies, including preferences for even-numbered ages and those with the terminal digit “0” or “5”. It is, however, the appropriate question to use when a considerable proportion of the population cannot give a precise birth date. Thus, it may be seen that “age” is a derived topic when calculated from the topic “date of birth” but is a direct topic when “date of birth” is not obtained (see date of birth (topic 14)).
Where exact age is unknown, estimated age may be recorded. To help arrive at a reasonable estimate of age among less literate persons, it may be useful to employ a historical calendar consisting of a list of dates of well-known events such as famines; epidemics; natural disasters, such as eruption of volcanoes or earthquakes; construction of landmarks, dams and bridges; imposition of new taxes or regulations; or significant political changes. Climatic and farming cycles, and religious or national festivals may also be used. Estimation of the age of an individual may also be attempted by employment of simple criteria of physiological age or by reference to the ages of other members of the household having a known relationship to the person whose age is being estimated.
Obtaining relatively reliable information on age
calls for special efforts on the part of the interviewer (the registrar,
the physician, the marriage officiant etc.). Care must be exercised,