6 July 2001
Symposium on Global Review of 2000 Round of
and Housing Censuses:
Assessment and Future Prospects
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
United Nations Secretariat
New York, 7-10 August 2001
The 2005 population and housing census in Sweden
will be totally register-based*
Åke Bruhn **
Normally, a population and housing census has been carried
out in Sweden every fifth year since 1960, although the latest census took
place in 1990. In 1995, the Parliament made a decision to change the method of
taking the next census into a totally register-based method.
1. Data from administrative sources only
In earlier population and housing censuses the general
public and property owners have had to provide information by filling in and
sending in questionnaires. It has, however, in recent censuses been possible to
use increasing amounts of information from administrative register-based
censuses, the first of which is planned for 2005, will be based entirely on
information from different administrative sources. This means that the general
public will not be required to fill in questionnaires every five years, nor,
from now on, will property owners have to provide information about the
buildings and dwellings that they own.
In order to undertake the first population and housing
census in Sweden based on administrative sources, a register of dwellings and a
register of housing units are needed. All those who live in multi-dwelling
buildings will be updated in the population register with a dwelling number.
Data from this and other registers, such as Statistics Sweden’s registers of
employment, occupation, education, income and wealth, plus the geographical
database and the census of 1990, will be presented in the form of current
statistics on the population, households and dwellings. These statistics will
be available in 2006. The Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament) is to debate
proposed legislation in this area during 2001.
2. Municipalities reviewing all addresses
municipalities are participating in preparations for the registers by
establishing the addresses of all residential buildings. This project has been
under way for several years and according to plan will be completed by
mid-2002. The objective is to ensure that each dwelling has a unique address. A
large part of this process involves substituting addresses based on post office
box addresses with village, street or road names. This will also make it easier
for rescue services, the police, taxis, home-help services and others to
quickly find the dwelling and the persons living in the dwelling.
3. All dwellings to
National Land Survey
is building a nationwide register of dwellings. Information will be collected
from owners of residential buildings in 2003 and 2004. Property owners will
provide notification of dwelling numbers and some other information about their
dwelling. What is new is that each dwelling will have a unique number. The
National Land Survey has drawn up a proposal for a possible form for dwelling
4. All residents will be registered by their dwelling
The local tax authorities and the National Tax Board,
which are responsible for population registration in Sweden, are introducing
registration by dwelling number. This project is proceeding concurrently with
the construction of the register of dwellings. When the tax authority has
received information about the identity of the person holding each residential
contract, all those living in multi-dwelling buildings will be registered by
dwelling number. The address will be supplemented by the dwelling number to
give the population a new registration address. Subsequently, the dwelling
number must always be given when filling in a notification of change of
address, for example.
5. Several authorities are cooperating
The project is being carried out by Statistics Sweden,
the National Land Survey, the National Tax Board and the Swedish Association of
Local Authorities, in
cooperation with municipalities throughout the country and property owners.
1. Cheaper and
is no doubt that it is much cheaper to take a census using administrative
records. That assumes, of course, that the administrative registers are already
introduced in the society and are of good quality. If those registers are kept
and used for other purposes and financed for that purpose, then the cost of
taking the census is less than 10 per cent of the cost of taking a traditional
census. That is at least the experience of Statistics Sweden and Statistics
It is also much faster to produce the results from a
census by using registers. Publication of the final results can normally start
about two months after the census date and ends when the last administrative
register is complete. That date depends on the time schedule for the
administrative system that is delivering the register.
2. Quality of administrative records and identity on records
The most crucial factor in keeping an administrative
register of good quality is to have a well-known and stable identity for each
record. In Sweden and in all of Scandinavia there are the personal
identification number and the real estate name, and soon the dwelling number as
such identities. It is, of course, possible to create registers without these
identities, but without them the problems will increase to keep the registers
up to date.
Another important rule to have and maintain good
quality is to establish and keep a register for administrative purposes, not for
statistical purposes. The register will then be used and updated continuously
and that will secure the quality.
3. Fixed and not full content
A problem when using administrative registers is that
the content of the register is normally very stable. That means that it is very
difficult to put new variables into the register. Statistics Sweden will
therefore not be able to collect information on such items as heating and means
of transport for the next census. The statistical institute must also rely on
another authority for keeping and updating the register. That authority might
have other interests for changing the register, which might cause problems for
4. Less burden for the respondents
Statistics Sweden is very actively trying to reduce
the burden for the respondents. The use of administrative records will minimize
the number of questions in a survey as well as completely replace the survey.
5. It takes time to set up the system
The last four censuses (1975, 1980, 1985 and 1990) in
Sweden have slowly developed into using more and more administrative registers
in combination with fewer and fewer questions in the questionnaire. So we can
say that it has taken 30 years to gradually develop the totally register-based
system that will be used in Census 2005 in Sweden
document was reproduced without formal editing.
** Statistics Sweden, Sweden. The views expressed in the paper are those of the author and do not imply the expression of any opinion on the part of the United Nations Secretariat.
 The National Land Survey is responsible for mapping out and classifying property in Sweden and for basic geographical and property information.
 The National Tax
Board is the central public authority responsible for local
tax authorities and enforcement services. Its activities include taxation,
population registration and general elections.
 Statistics Sweden has the task of
describing trends in Swedish society by means of statistics and produces the
bulk of the official statistics.
 The Swedish Association of Local Authorities is an association of
Sweden's with the aims to support and develop
the system of local self-government and assist local authorities through
service and expert advice.