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Country Profile of China, Hong Kong SAR

Main statistical agency
Main statistical agency name
Census and Statistics Department
Web address
Position in the government
The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) comes under the purview of the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government.
Organizational structure and finance
C&SD together with statistical units established in various government departments/bureaux form the Government Statistical Service (GSS). The latter are generally called the "outposted statistical units".

Broadly speaking, most general-purpose statistics come under the responsibility of C&SD. The statistical units in various government departments/bureaux are responsible for specific-purpose statistics (for dedicated use in their respective work) and provide necessary support in the application of statistics.

The Commissioner for Census and Statistics is the Government's principal adviser on all statistical matters and the head of the GSS. On the one hand, he/she fulfills his/her responsibilities by being the head of C&SD and, on the other hand, coordinates the work of outposed statistical units and monitors their technical standards.

The Commissioner for Census and Statistics is assisted by a Deputy Commissioner and five Assistant Commissioners in discharging his/her duties. Each Assistant Commissioner heads a division. The functions of these five divisions are:

Economic Statistics Division (1): This Division deals with external merchandise trade statistics and price statistics;

Economic Statistics Division (2): This Division deals with sectoral economic statistics covering such sectors as manufacturing, construction, transport, business services, distributive trades, restaurants and hotels; providing data on such aspects as business performance, operating characteristics and trade in services. It also deals with statistics on science and technology, information technology usage and penetration in the business sector, and regional/local offices in Hong Kong representing parent companies located outside Hong Kong;

Economic Statistics Division (3): This Division deals with national income statistics and Balance of Payments statistics;

Social Statistics Division: This Division deals with demographic, labour force and other social statistics; plans and executes population censuses; conducts social surveys; and oversees the statistical units in a number of government departments; and

General Statistics Division: This Division deals with labour statistics and undertakes surveys of employment, payroll, wages and manpower; provides support in applications of information technology in the Department; organises human resources development activities; handles data dissemination matters; oversees statistical units in a number of government departments; and provides statistical professional services to other government departments.

In addition, there are three branches directly supervised by the Deputy Commissioner, namely Technical Secretariat, Development Branch and Administration Branch.
Multi-annual or annual work program
C&SD maintains a corporate plan covering all its work programmes. For each programme, detailed summary of the resources involved, linkage to other work programmes, main outputs and their uses, efficiency initiatives and future developments are set out. Accounts of recent changes and challenges in the operation environments and how they have been or to be dealt with are also included to enable full anticipation of issues that may lie ahead. The plan is reviewed every year to ensure that C&SD can address the changing needs of its services in a timely manner.
Main duties
The work of C&SD can be classified into three categories:

(a) Conducting statistical surveys and operating statistical systems for the production of social and economic statistics including data series on such areas as population, external trade, commerce and industry, labour, prices, national income and Balance of Payments;

(b) Performing statistical analysis and disseminating statistical data and analytical results; and

(c) Providing consultation and support services on statistical matters to various government departments.

Proper understanding of the concepts and definitions of different kinds of statistics is imperative for their correct interpretation and application. Besides providing statistical data to the public, C&SD is also prepared to give advice on the interpretation and application of statistics so as to maximize their utility to users.

Brief history and other relevant background information
Brief history and other relevant background information
C&SD was set up in December 1967 by bringing together the Census and Statistical Planning Office of the then Colonial Secretariat and the Statistics Branch of the then Commerce and Industry Department.

When the Department was first formed, its main duty was to compile the external trade statistics of Hong Kong. As regards statistical surveys, the first major job undertaken by the Department was the planning of the 1971 Population Census. In the same year, a Census of Manufacturing Establishments, being the first of its kind, was taken. This paved the way for the surveys on various economic sectors developed in subsequent years. Work also commenced to set up a system for compiling estimates of the Gross Domestic Product on a periodic basis.

Over the past four decades, along with the rapid social and economic developments in Hong Kong, C&SD has been opening up new fronts and developing many social and economic statistical surveys and systems to meet the ever growing demands.

In carrying out its various activities, C&SD follows international standards and practices. In this regard, one of the major references is the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics adopted in 1994 by the United Nations. In the area of data dissemination, C&SD also complies with the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) of the International Monetary Fund. In addition, staff of C&SD also make regular reference to the Declaration of Professional Ethics of the International Statistical Institute.

As a professional department, C&SD places emphasis on a scientific and professional image, and always works with impartiality, integrity and objectivity. At the same time, great importance is attached to good quality of service, friendliness and smooth communication in providing services to the public.

Legal basis
Legal basis
The main legislation governing the work of C&SD is the Census and Statistics Ordinance (C&S Ordinance), which empowers the Commissioner for Census and Statistics to carry out censuses of population and statistical surveys of mandatory or voluntary nature. The Ordinance also provides strict safeguards on the confidentiality of data pertaining to individuals or undertakings.

Other producers of official statistics
Other producers of official statistics
Apart from C&SD, statistical staff are posted to 30 government departments and policy bureaux. Subject matter areas include education, housing, health, social welfare, law and order, transport and strategic planning, etc. While staff in outposted statistical units are responsible to the departments/bureaux to which they are posted in respect of the day-to-day work, professional advice and assistance are provided to them by C&SD headquarters when it is deemed necessary. Moreover, the outposted staff come under C&SD in such matters as recruitment, training, posting and promotion. Through this arrangement, the quality standard of statistical work across the Government is maintained.

Statistical advisory bodies
Statistical advisory bodies
To ensure that the needs of various sectors of the community can be suitably taken into account in the development of government statistical activities, a Statistics Advisory Board was established by the Government in 1972. The Board is a non-statutory advisory body chaired by the Commissioner for Census and Statistics and consists of 11 non-official members and 3 official members. The non-official members consist of established professionals from the business sector, the academia and the community, which provide for a wide representation to assist the Commissioner in integrating views of data users, raw data suppliers and statisticians. Representatives of Director of Planning, Government Economist and Principal Assistant Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury (Financial Services) serve as the three official members. They represent Government interests in regard to statistics on economic and social fronts.

Data collection
Most recent population census
It is an established practice from 1961 for Hong Kong to conduct a population census once every ten years and a by-census in the middle of the intercensal period. Following this practice, a census was conducted during late June to early August 2011. The reference date for the 2011 Population Census was 30 June 2011. A by-census differs from a census in not having a complete headcount of the population but simply enquiring on the detailed characteristics of a large sample of the population.
Access to administrative data
Births and deaths data: Under legislation, births and deaths occurred in the territory of Hong Kong are required to be registered in the Birth and Death Registries of the Immigration Department within specified period of time. Information on anonymized birth/death records from the Immigration Department is used in the compilation of birth/death statistics.

Registered marriage data: Marriages are required to be registered at the Marriage Registries of the Immigration Department. Information on anonymized marriage records from the Immigration Department is used in the compilation of marriage statistics.

Data on movement of Hong Kong Permanent Residents: The Immigration Department is responsible for recording information on passengers arriving at or departing from Hong Kong. A "Record Linkage" approach is adopted whereby large volumes of anonymized individual passenger movement records of Hong Kong Permanent Residents are used for the compilation of the movement statistics.
Data confidentiality
The Census and Statistics Ordinance provides strict safeguards on the confidentiality of data pertaining to individuals or undertakings.

Section 22 Restriction on publication and disclosure (30/06/1997)

(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), any person who publishes or shows to any person otherwise than in the performance of any function under this Ordinance-

(a) any schedule or other document or part thereof completed or any return or part thereof made for any of the purposes of this Ordinance;

(b) any answer given to any question put for any of the purposes of this Ordinance; or

(c) any particulars obtained in the course of any statistical inquiry which enable identification of an individual or undertaking, commits an offence.

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), it shall not be an offence to publish or show to any person any particulars referred to in subsection (1)(c) which-

(a) enable identification of an undertaking by reason only of the fact that they relate to that undertaking as being within a particular classification but do not enable identification of the capital employed or profits arising in such undertaking;

(b) disclose in any directory of undertakings or otherwise any or any combination of the following particulars, namely, the name, the address, the type of business or the number of employees of any undertaking.

(3) Nothing in this section shall be taken to prohibit-

(a) the publication by the Commissioner of any statistical information in the form of abstracts, printed publications, press releases or otherwise as he may deem fit:

Provided that in compiling any report, summary or communication to the public of information obtained under this Ordinance, the Commissioner shall so arrange it as to prevent any particulars published therein (other than particulars to which subsection (2) applies) from being identified as particulars relating to any particular individual or undertaking except with the previous consent in writing of the individual or, as the case may be, of the person carrying on the undertaking;

(b) the production of such evidence as may be necessary for the purpose of any proceedings instituted for an offence against this Ordinance.

(4) The Commissioner shall not be required to disclose any information obtained in the course of or as a result of any statistical inquiry to or for inspection by or for the use of any other authority for the purpose of or in connection with the investigation of crime or the assessment or levying of any tax.

Data dissemination
Release calendar (existence, when and how published)
The schedule for issuing press releases on regular series of statistics for each calendar year is announced by C&SD in September of the preceding year. Press releases for regular statistical information are issued to the media at 4:30 p.m. Hong Kong time (i.e. GMT 08:30) on the pre-announced scheduled date and posted on the C&SD Website ( shortly afterward.
Main publications
C&SD is committed to releasing statistical data as early as possible, as the usefulness of statistics is related to the timeliness with which the statistics are made available to users.

In drawing up schedules for releasing statistics, the Department carefully strikes a balance amongst various factors:

(a) the need of users for obtaining timely statistics;

(b) the quality of statistics; and

(c) the practicality of raw data suppliers, mainly survey respondents, in providing the required data and that of survey workers or statistics compilers in completing their tasks within a specific time frame.

Related to these factors is the need to control costs. Where appropriate, the practice of releasing provisional statistics is adopted for certain statistical series. With the provision of clear information about the revision practice and time schedule, users may apply the provisional statistics or the final figures to suit their needs at different times. Continuous efforts are made to shorten the time lag in releasing statistics. Since 2000, most monthly statistics are released within one month and all quarterly statistics within three months after the reference period.

In terms of specific outputs, a wide range of subjects are covered, namely:

(a) Statistical Reports

- General Statistical Digests

- External Trade

- National Income and Balance of Payments

- Labour

- Consumer Prices and Household Expenditure

- Commerce and Industry

- Population

- Social Data

- Feature Articles

(b) Classification Lists

(c) Report on Statistical Development

(d) Detailed Statistical Tables Available for Free Download Online:

- External Trade

- Labour

- Commerce and Industry

- Consumer Prices and Household Expenditure

- Population
Languages of main publications
Chinese and English are both official languages in Hong Kong and bilingualism is adopted in all forms of data dissemination such as statistical reports and the C&SD Website.
How are data disseminated (Paper, CD Rom, Website, online databases, databanks)?
An electronic, up-to-date catalogue of all statistical products of C&SD is available on the website. Members of the public can download publications and statistical tables of C&SD free of charge at the C&SD Website ( Print version of selected publications and CD-ROM products are also made available for sale online. Economic reports (containing various statistical data series) compiled by the Economic Analysis Division of the Economic Analysis and Business Facilitation Unit under the Financial Secretary's Office are also included.

For most of the publications (whether available for sale or free distribution) and CD-ROM products, key information such as abstract, contents, publication frequency, price and latest release date are available.
Availability of microdata for research purposes
Academic researchers may approach C&SD to apply for access to selected datasets kept by the Department to support the conduct of socio-economics studies. These datasets include those of the Population Census/By-censuses, the Household Expenditure Survey, the General Household Survey and the registered birth, death and marriage records. The datasets must be used within Hong Kong and for academic research purposes only. All records in the datasets have been thoroughly screened to ensure that particulars of individual households and persons cannot be identified. Specifically, all record identifiers (such as name and address of individual respondents) have been removed and other information has been suitably coded.

An academic researcher wishing to gain access to the aforesaid datasets may make an application to the Department through the management of the academic institution to which the researcher belongs. Applications will be considered by the Department on a case-by-case basis, having regard to such factors as the nature of the study, data relevance and precision, and data confidentiality. If an application is approved, the researcher must sign an Undertaking with the Department that requires him/her to comply with various conditions in using the datasets.

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