The 2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme was approved by the Statistical Commission at its 46th session and adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in resolution E/RES/2015/10. The Programme recognizes population and housing censuses as one of the primary sources of data needed for formulating, implementing and monitoring policies and programmes aimed at inclusive socioeconomic development and environmental sustainability. It further recognizes population and housing censuses as an important source for supplying disaggregated data needed for the measurement of progress of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially in the context of assessing the situation of people by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability and geographic location, or other characteristics.
The 2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme comprises a number of inter-related objectives and activities aimed at ensuring that:
- Member States conduct at least one population and housing census during the period from 2015 to 2024;
- Member States take into account international and regional recommendations relating to population and housing censuses and give particular attention to advance planning, cost efficiency, coverage and the timely dissemination of, and easy access to, census results;
- Member States set quality standards for the conduct and evaluation of population and housing censuses in order to uphold the integrity, reliability, accuracy and value of the population and housing census results;
- Full-fledged support is rendered to the Programme given its importance for sustainable development planning, especially in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
- International statistical standards, methods and guidelines are prepared to facilitate the conduct of population and housing censuses;
- Activities among stakeholders are coordinated in assisting Member States to plan and carry out a census; and,
- Implementation of the Programme is monitored and regularly reported to the Statistical Commission.
The purpose of this website is to provide an online information resource on census taking and to present current information on national, regional and international activities related to the Programme.
The website presents international standards, methods and guidelines intended to assist national statistical offices and other producers of official statistics in planning and carrying out successful population and housing censuses. It further presents national documents related to different aspects of census taking during the current and previous census rounds. A major component of the website is the census knowledge base which is a repository of methodological reports and documents from countries. Given that new methodologies and contemporary technologies are being implemented by countries in the pursuit of reduced costs, improved quality and timely dissemination of census results, the census knowledge base facilitates the international exchange and sharing of knowledge and information on various aspects of census taking.
The content of the website includes an up-to-date account of national census taking activities and of the provision of support to countries in improving their statistical capacity in census taking. Furthermore, the website provides a summary account of monitoring and progress in the implementation of the 2020 World Programme.
- Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, Rev. 3 (French, unedited, not typeset, 2017)
- Handbook on the Management of Population and Housing Censuses, Rev. 2 (French, 2020)
Final results of the 2017 Population and Housing Census of Palestine.
- Establishments Report-Population, Housing and Establishments Census 2017 Report link
- The Census Final Results Summary Report link
Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) presentation link and video link
Posted 7 November 2018
Preliminary results of the 2017 Population and Housing Census of Palestine.
Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) documentary film on the Population, Housing and Establishments Census 2017. Video
Posted 25 April 2018
Data on religion from Myanmar's 2014 census released. Read more...
Presentation of the Religion Report
Posted 8 September 2016
Bosnia and Herzegovina released final results of 2013 Population and Housing Census. Read more...
Posted 1 July 2016
Uganda 2014 Population and Housing Census results. Read more...
Posted 23 May 2016
Statistics Canada launches 2016 census and Canadians show enthusiasm for return of the long-form census. Read more...
Posted 10 May 2016
Japan 2015 population census preliminary results. Read more...
Posted 20 April 2016
Jordan released preliminary results from 2015 population and housing census.
Posted February 2016
Timor-Leste preliminary results from 2015 population and housing census.
Posted October 2015
United Nations Economic and Social Council adopts resolution on the 2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme. Read more...
Posted 11 June 2015
World Census Clock
as of 29 November 2017
Distribution of conducted and scheduled censuses over the period of the 2010 Census Round according to region (n.s. = not scheduled).
For the 2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme, the Statistical Commission at its 43rd session, requested that the United Nations Statistics Division proceed with its work on the revision and update of the Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses. The Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, Revision 3 was adopted by the Statistical Commission at its 46th session in 2015. The main objective of the Principles and Recommendations is to provide international principles and recommendations for use by national statistical offices and census officials in countries throughout the world in planning and organizing their censuses. For previous versions of the Principles and Recommendations, go to...
In addition, the United Nations Statistics Division has issued the following guidelines:
|Census Principles and Recommendations||Year||File||Size|
|-||Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, Rev. 3
Arabic (, ) / Chinese (, ) / English (2017, 2.4 MB) / French (2020, 2.6 MB) / Russian (unofficial translation, 2.5 MB) / Spanish (, )
|-||Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, Rev. 2
Arabic (2009, 2.3 MB) / Chinese (2010, 2.8 MB) / English (2008, 2.5 MB) / French (2009, 2.5 MB) / Russian (2009, 2.7 MB) / Spanish (2010, 2.2 MB)
|-||Handbook on the Management of Population and Housing Censuses, Rev. 2
Arabic (, ) / Chinese (, ) / English (2021, 5.5 MB) / French (2020, 8.4 MB) / Russian (2021, 5.3 MB) / Spanish (, )
|-||Handbook on Registers-based Population and Housing Censuses||2022||2.4 MB|
|-||Handbook on Census Management for Population and Housing Censuses||2001||1.8 MB|
|-||Guidelines on the Use of Electronic Data Collection Technologies in Population and Housing Censuses||2019||3.6 MB|
|-||Handbook on Population and Housing Census Editing, Rev. 2
(Final draft, unedited, not typeset)
|-||Handbook on Measuring International Migration through Population Censuses||2022||1.4 MB|
|-||Handbook on Population and Housing Census Editing, Rev. 1
Chinese (2010, 2.8 MB) / English (2010, 2 MB) / French (2010, 2.1 MB) / Russian (2011, 2.9 MB)
|-||Measuring the Economically Active in Population Censuses: A Handbook
Chinese (8.1 MB) / English (10.1 MB) / French (6.6 MB) / Russian (9.1 MB) / Spanish (6.8 MB)
|-||Handbook on Geospatial Infrastructure in Support of Census Activities
Arabic (2010, 9.7 MB) / Chinese (2010, 3.6 MB) / English (2009, 5 MB) / French (2010, 10 MB) / Russian (2010, 5.2 MB) / Spanish (2010, 9.3 MB)
|Census Technical Reports & Other Reference Material||Year||File||Size|
|-||Technical Report on Measuring Sustainable Development Goals Indicators through Population and Housing Census and Civil Registration Data (Unedited, not typeset)||2022||4 MB|
|-||Post Enumeration Surveys, Operational guidelines||2010||1.1 MB|
|-||Census Data Capture Methodology||2009||0.6 MB|
Country questionnaires, documents and census posters are located in "Census Documents" a searchable script.
The importance of population censuses as a procedure to systematically acquire and record information about the members of a population has long been recognized. Since the end of the 19th century, all countries in the world have been encouraged to conduct censuses. Since the 1950s, the UN Statistics Division (UNSD), as the secretariat to the decennial World Programme on Population and Housing Censuses, has promoted population censuses worldwide under the authority of the UN Statistical Commission.
The UNSD has played a central role in supporting national census taking, especially for developing countries. Our office coordinates work on setting standards and methods, for instance, through publishing Principles and Recommendations for the Population and Housing Censuses (http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/sources/census/docs/P&R_Rev2.pdf). We provide technical assistance to enhance national statistical capacity to undertake censuses through arranging thematic seminars and workshops or by providing advice. We also compile and disseminate census results from countries or areas on-line as well as in print.
The current 2010 World Programme on Population and Housing Censuses, adopted in 2005 by the UN Statistical Commission, spans from 2005 to 2014. An overwhelming majority of countries or areas in the world have committed to conduct a census at least once during this period. However, five countries have not yet indicated when they would carry out a census. Still, this represents a significant improvement over the 2000 round, when 27 countries and areas did not conduct a census.
Since the beginning of the current census round in 2005, 155 countries and areas have already conducted a census (by 1 July). This year, 2011, is one of the peak years of the 2010 round, with 69 countries and areas conducting censuses, enumerating an estimated 2.3 billion people (33 % of the world population). It is expected that by the end of the round in 2014, almost 99 % of the world's total population will have been enumerated.
The data collected by census help a nation, region or community make major decisions for the future. Censuses are a comprehensive source of statistical information for economic and social development planning and for administrative purposes. For example, the results of a census are used to distribute and allocate government funds for education, health services and delineating electoral districts. Census data can also be used for academic research or business marketing.
Some MDG indicators, such as literacy rate and unemployment rate of youth, can be computed from census data, hence allowing governments to measure and monitor the progress made in a comparable manner. Also, note that the denominator for most MDG indicators is the total population figure, which can be produced by a population census.
The main innovations of the 2010 round of censuses are the use of new approaches to obtain data and modern technology. While most countries still conduct their census through field survey, an increasing number of countries are producing census data by using registers either alone of in combination with other data collection mechanisms. We also witness that many countries have adopted new technologies such as mobile devices, geospatial information systems and the Internet in phases of a census operation. According to a recent survey, more than 30 countries or areas are providing an option for Internet-based self-enumeration. New technologies contribute to improving the completeness, timeliness and quality of census results.
People have become more migratory and, in urban areas, a growing number of individuals live alone in a single household. Such changes in lifestyles sometimes make difficult for census enumerators to identify and reach out respondents. It is said that there has been a growing concern about privacy and confidentiality of the information collected. Changes in lifestyles, coupled with the growing cost for census, have led several Governments to look into other options for enumeration, such as the use of internet and registers.
Contact the programme
Correspondence relating to 2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme should be addressed to:
United Nations Statistics Division
Attn: 2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
New York, NY 10017, USA
Fax: +1 (212) 963-1940