Thursday, September 17, 2009



The census questions on disability have been designed by the Washington Group on Disability Statistics. The purpose of the questions is to gather information about limitations in basic activity functioning (e.g. seeing, hearing, moving, walking, remembering) among the national population. The questions were meant for global use in censuses so that comparisons relating to levels of participation in employment, education, could be made across countries. Also, comparisons can be made with persons without disabilities to ascertain whether the disabled persons have achieved social inclusion. The census data on disability can also provide a frame of disabled persons for use in other surveys.


Knowledge on the prevalence of certain chronic diseases is extremely important to the Health Authorities. Chronic illnesses tabulated by age, gender, ethnicity or area can be the basis for further research as well as for efficient planning, including the establishment of appropriate infrastructure and the procurement of adequate medical equipment and supplies.


Growth and development of any economy depend on the talent and knowledge of its workforce. A sound education is priceless. Allocations from the national budget to education have always been significant. Census data on educational levels and attainment are important indicators of human development and essential in gauging the success of many developmental programmes. Census education data by area can assist in estimating the demand for schools.


A main objective of collecting data on economic activity is to provide basic information on the size and structure of a country’s labour force. This data can be analyzed together with other social and economic data on the economy to evaluate macro economic policies The unemployment rate is widely used as an indicator of current economic performance of a country. In addition, the census will provide employment rates at micro levels, so that planners can promote or create employment in depressed areas. Employment statistics disaggregated by age, sex, area, occupation and industry are a wealth of information for assessing government policies.


Tabulations on marital and union status cross classified by age, sex and other demographic characteristics are rich information for social and demographic research. Marital and union status also have implications on Fertility patterns. In estimating or projecting the size of the population, fertility patterns are crucial inputs in arriving at reliable estimates.


The question on census night raises many eyebrows. However, if we think about the process of counting the entire population, this takes three to four weeks in Trinidad and Tobago. During this time many changes are taking place by the minute, people are dying, babies are being born, persons are entering and leaving the country, households are changing residences etc. So in effect the population is changing by the minute. Census takers therefore set a moment in time when the population is counted. So if that moment is midnight on May 16th, an interviewer will be taking all information about a household as of that time on 16th May, although his/her exact visit was the 21st May. The question on census night, therefore, places each person, in a geographic place at a specific point in time. At census night, the count of the population is taken.


This Section is a new addition to the census instrument. Questions on ICT were not included in the 2000 questionnaire. It must be acknowledged that in the last decade there has been significant advancement in technology. Since the census is the only source of data on very small geographic areas, it is the best source to provide statistics on the use of ICT and it will be the best indicator to assess where we are in this information age. Information on the use of ICT can be cross classified by age, gender, area and other variables for meaningful analyses.


Many decades ago a Housing Census was added to the population census. This census was meant to provide information on the quantity and quality of the housing stock. Governments have realized that adequate shelter is critical to human development. Several international conventions have committed governments to providing shelter for all. Information on the housing stock can assist in estimating the demand for housing. The amenities reported will facilitate analyses on the quality of the stock eg. source of water supply, adequate sewerage disposal, lighting etc..


This is also the first time that questions on Environment appear in the census questionnaire. Today, preservation of the Environment is a main issue for policy makers.
The census therefore takes the opportunity to inform planners on the environmental problems that affect households. When this data are tabulated by area, problems affecting households can be dealt with more effectively.


It is difficult to source data on international migration, and during the intercensal years- the years between decennial censuses- the population must be estimated. This is done by taking the population at the last census, add births, subtract deaths and add or minus net migration. Since it is almost impossible to gather data on net migration, the census asks how many persons have left to live abroad and still live abroad in the last ten years. Those who left the country and returned within the 10 years will be picked up in Section 2 of the questionnaire. A brief profile of the migrants is also required to inform policy makers on who are the emigrants, in terms of age, sex, education and occupation. If we are losing our most educated people, then policymakers must seriously address this issue.

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