What is a Census?

A modern Population Census may be defined as the total process of collecting, compiling and publishing demographic, economic and social data pertaining to all persons in a country at a specified time. A Census can also be described as a form of national stock-taking. The Census is a complete count of the population and provides detailed bench-mark data on the size of the population, age structure, educational attainment, labour force and socio-economic characteristics.

Since Census is a form of national undertaking, it involves everyone in the country and, through its statistical results, serves everyone in the country. In most countries it engenders good will and a sense of individual responsibility for seeing it through. For those who work on it, the Census is an exciting enterprise and a unique experience.

Why take a Census?

The increasing complexity of modern life means a greater need to plan housing, schools, roads, transportation and a vast range of social and economic requirements for the nation. This cannot be done without a regular detailed count of the population.

How often is regular?

In most countries, the census exercise is a decennial one, that is, every ten (10) years.

The last population census in Anguilla was taken in 1992, that is nine years ago. Since then, many changes have taken place. Such as fluctuating rates of population growth, changes in employment, changes in the average annual number of births, etc., all of which will have implications on the demand in social services, e.g. health, education and infrastructure including water, electricity and roads.

Does the Census just count people?

Although the main focus of the population Census is a count of the population, much more information about the characteristics of the population is obtained. The Census questions will seek to solicit information on the age, sex, marital status, religion and educational characteristics of each person. Questions on the economic activity of persons will provide information on the work force and its occupational and industrial breakdown.

Does the Census deal with any other area?

Our Census is a Census of population and housing, so in addition to the questions on persons, there are also questions on the houses that they live in. The questions on housing will tell us about conditions, facilities like water and electricity, overcrowding and so on.

How is a Population Census taken?

While the term Census is generally taken to mean counting the country’s population and the recording of certain characteristics at a particular point in time, several distinct operations have to be completed before a picture of the population can be presented.

In the first place, plans must be drawn up outlining what information is to be collected, how it is to be recorded and how the findings are to be presented. After these have been settled, the next step is to organize the collection of the data in the field under careful supervision.

The country is divided into small areas called Enumeration Districts (EDs) and an interviewer is assigned to each. The interviewer is thoroughly trained to ensure that he/she fully understands what questions are to be asked and how to record the answers quickly and correctly on the questionnaires provided. About three weeks before Census Day, preliminary enumeration begins. During that period, the interviewer will visit all buildings in his /her ED and record information on the Visitation Record. The actual enumeration begins on Census Day when all enumerators will visit every dwelling unit in all buildings and record the information given on the questionnaires. Therefore, if the quality of enumeration is good, the final tables which will be published will also be of good quality and usable for policy formation.

A field supervisor is placed in charge of a number of interviewers to monitor their work and to attend to any problems which may arise while the field work is being done. He/she also acts as a link between interviewers and the Census Office.

At the Census Office, the completed questionnaires are checked, coded where necessary, and made ready for processing by computers which are programmed to provide statistical tables for publication.

Who provides the Census information?

Ideally, every individual in the household should be interviewed, but this is not always possible. It is therefore permitted for any responsible adult to give the information about all the persons in that household, provided that he/she knows all the required answers.

Aren’t these questions kind of personal?

Most of the Census questions are really fairly innocuous (that is not harmful or injurious) but if you are worried about confidentiality, then be assured that the Statistics Act guarantees the confidentiality of your answers to the Census questions. Neither the enumerator nor any employee of the Census Office can reveal information about you or your household without incurring severe penalties including fines and or imprisonment.

Census Information is confidential

The law requires that all information collected from the Census must be kept confidential. All enumerators, supervisors, other field staff, as well as employees of the Census Office, will be required to take an oath of secrecy to not reveal any Census information to anyone who is not a sworn employee of the Census organization. This means that they will not divulge any Census information, under any circumstances, even to members of their families. Enumerators, supervisors and other persons working with the collected information are instructed and cautioned not to leave completed questionnaires lying around unprotected.

Census Information is used only for
preparing tabulations about the population as a whole

Some households may hesitate to answer some of the questions asked. This is understandable since they will be asked to provide information which they do not usually make available to strangers. However, persons who are reluctant to answer questions will be put at ease by informing them of the conditions under which information will be collected. These are:

· All persons engaged on the Census have taken an oath of secrecy, whether they are working in the field or in the Census Office.

· Information collected is kept strictly confidential. It is against the law for any Census worker to divulge information to any unauthorized individual or organization whatever. No information about any individual can be made available to any agency, not even to another government department.

The information collected will be used solely in the preparation of tables showing the size and structure of the population as a whole by means of TOTALS.

What is the role of the public?

The data are important to everyone and it is in our best interest to make the exercise a success. Everyone can help by:

· Being informed about the Census;
Being available to the enumerators who will visit every household in Anguilla;
· Being accessible to the enumerators by opening our gates and answering the door;
· Being neighbourly – ensure the safety of the enumerators while they are in your neighbourhood. Make sure that they reach the next house safely and put away any vicious dogs while they are in the vicinity.
· Being involved. If you suspect your household has been missed, take steps to ensure that you are counted. Call the Census Office.

· Being cooperative. It is vital for the success of the Census that each and everyone of us give the enumerator our full cooperation. We will serve our country and ourselves if we answer the Census questions accurately and completely.