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Successful Innovations In National Censuses: The Case Of Colombia

Jan Beise
5. Forms of census organization
This paper by Alvaro Pachón of the Columbian National Statistical Office (DANE) describes some innovations introduced in the Columbian Census 2005. In 2005, Colombia implemented a continuous census format which not only generated a better allocation of resources but which allowed to survey households on agriculture and business concerns as well. This paper will explain how this extended census format was conceived and developed in Colombia, and how it has proven to be more effective and efficient than the simultaneous census format. In addition to this conceptual innovation, this paper will address methodological and technological innovations that can help countries planning future national censuses implement best practices.

One of the key methodological innovations in the 2005 Colombian General Census was the selection of qualified staff to serve as paid interviewers in contrast to the previous census where interviewers had been high school students performing an unpaid civic duty. This paper will describe the selection and training process of the interviewers, and will establish the positive impact that it has generated in the local communities.

With regards to technological tools used during the General Census, Colombia was at the forefront of innovation. From CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal interviewing) to geo-coding and local data warehouses, Colombia demonstrated how powerful the integrated use of technology in national censuses can be. This paper will explore the advantages of using CAPI over PAPI (Paper and Pencil Interviewing), as well as the new possibilities for dynamic data searches.

Paper presented at the Satellite Meeting on Innovative Methodologies for Censuses in the New Millennium of the 56th Session of the ISI, Lisboa, 31 August - 2 September 2007.


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