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Engendering economic activity in population censuses * * * Robert McCaa, Antonio Lopez, Phuong Nguyen University of Minnesota Population Center * * * representing the IPUMS-International * * * * * * census microdata access project * * *.

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Engendering economic activity in population censuses* * *Robert McCaa, Antonio Lopez, Phuong NguyenUniversity of Minnesota Population * * * representing the IPUMS-International * * * * * * census microdata access project * * *


Engendering economic activity—a global perspective acquired from integrating census microdata

IPUMS: most complete archive of census documentation

Census forms: 765 on conference DVD—thanks to UNSD, etc.

Training manuals: available in 2009

To integrate microdata, study documentation carefully

“best practices” for capturing female economic activity

Learned from source documentation

Necessary for integrating microdata

And writing integrated metadata

(Regional reports, on Latin America and Africa given in May and Dec., provoked much discussion and debate)


UN-Statistics Division, Principles and Recommendations, 1958-2007: conceptual foundation for unbiased measurement of econ. act.

~International standards are clear: homemakers may be economically active

P&R 1958 (M27), 1970 (M44), 1998 (Rev 1, M67), 2007 (Rev 2)

UNSD Soc. & Econ. Char. Handbook (2007), ILO BLS 2007-1

Biased questionaire: Main activity? if housewife, end module.

Unbiased: Any economic activity? if housewife, short list of probes:

Work for pay or profit, family farm/business, crafts for sale,

See UNSD Handbook (Nov. 2007), p. 45.


UN-Statistics Division, Principles and Recommendations, 1958-2007, laid the foundation;yet our analysis of 765 census forms shows

before the 2000 round, biased wording meant that homemakers/housewives who worked part-time were excluded from the economically active population

Finally, in the 2000 round, in almost all regions of the world, bias was greatly eliminated—thanks to a concerted effort by UNSD, UNFPA, etc. Examples: Mexico, South Africa, Macedonia, Yemen

For 2010 round, almost all (?) countries may pose the economic activity question properly (e.g., Colombia 2005, Cambodia 2008), but, unless we act quickly, old ways will continue in much of Africa (e.g., Nigeria 2006, Burkina Faso 2006) and sub-regions of Asia (Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam)


Gambia 2003—captures both primary and secondary activity

Homemakers: must answer 16b (“did you work at all for pay or profit”, work for family farm, business, receive pay in kind)

If yes, continue with economic module

Best practice!!


Mexico 2000 census--two questions on Economic Activity: 1: “Last week, did (NAME)...?” 2: “Besides (...), did (NAME)...?”

Question 1:

Last week (Name):

Did you work? 27.5%

Had work? 0.4

Look for work? 0.3

Are you a student?



permanently incapacitated?

Did you not work?

Question 1: female %

Last week (Name):

Did you work? 27.5%

Had work? 0.4

Looked? 0.3

Q. 1&2: combined

student/wrkd 0.5

housewife/wr 3.7

retired/wrkd 0.0

other/wrkd? 0.4

no reply/wrkd? 0.0

Question 2:

Did you help in a family business?

Sell some product?

Make some product to sell?

Help on a farm or with livestock?

Or in exchange for pay did you do some other activity?

Best practice!!


South Africa 2001—captures all with short list:“any work for pay (in cash or kind), profit or family gain for one hour or more?” (avoids “homemaker end”)

Best practice!!


The problem:Nigeria 2006—skips secondary activity

17: if Homemaker, skip: “end interview”.


17b: list secondary activities (recall Mexico 2000 example)

If response is “no” on 17a and 17b, then end interview; otherwise record answers for 17b, 18 and 19





All, if homemakerNo census/ques/form

Gender bias in the wording of Census Questions on Economic Activity (2000phcr)


Africa, 1995-2007—3 of 4 miss most or allgender bias in economic activity question(s): 35 censuses

6 best practices: Gambia 2003, Mauritius 2000, Mozambique 1997, Namibia 2000, South Africa 2001, Sudan 2008

3 capture some (all??) secondary economic activity:Cote d’Ivoire 1998, Ghana 2000, Mali 1998

9 miss most female economic activity for lack of probes:Benin, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Morocco, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tunisia

17 skip all female economic activity, if homemaker:Algeria, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Cape Verde, Gabon, Guinea (Conakry), Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe


Asia-Oceania, 1995-2007—half less than are bestgender bias in economic activity question(s): 43 censuses

21 best practices: Australia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Fiji, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Korea-RO, Malaysia, Maldives, New Zeland, Palestine, PNG, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkmenistan, Yemen

8 capture some (all??) secondary economic activity:China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey

1 misses much female economic activity for lack of probes:Armenia

14 skip all female economic activity, if homemaker:Bahrain, Bhutan, Indonesia, Iraq, Kuwait, Laos, Mongolia, Oman, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam


Europe, 1995-2007—half less than bestgender bias in economic activity question(s): 31 censuses

15 best practices: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, France, Italy, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine

5 capture some (all??) secondary economic activity:Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Spain, United Kingdom

4 miss much female economic activity for lack of probes:Albania, Belarus, Ireland, Moldova

7 skip all female economic activity, if homemaker:Bosnia & Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia


Americas, 1995-2007—only 6 less than bestgender bias in economic activity question(s): 29 censuses

23 best practices: Argentina, Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname, USA, Uruguay, Venezuela

0 capture some (all??) secondary economic activity:

2 miss much female economic activity for lack of probes:Panama, Peru

4 skip all female economic activity, if homemaker:Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago


UNSD, Handbook on Social and Economic Charactertistics (Nov. 2007, p. 45): list of economic and non-economic activities

Continued on next slide


A critique of examples from Handbook (pp. 310-340).

3 Worst practice (if main activity = homemaker, skip): Botswana 2001, Malawi 1998, Zambia 2000.

13 Best practice (record activity, even for homemakers): Namibia 2001, South Africa 2001, Sri Lanka 2001 (weeks worked per year for 6 types of activity, including homemaking), Argentina 2001, Bahamas 2000, Belize 2000, Jamaica 2001, Mexico 2000, Australia 2006, Japan 2000, Canada 2006, France 1999, and Italy 2001

There is no guidance as to the character of these examples—instead only layout (landscape/portrait) and # of questions asked.


Suggested “best practice” on economic activity proposed for Africa Addendum to UNSD P&R 2010, Option 1:

Question X (mark one):

Last 7 days, did (Name) do any work for PAY (in cash or in kind), PROFIT or FAMILY Gain, for one hour or more?:

Yes, formal (non-farm)

Yes, informal (non-farm)

Yes, farming/ranching

Yes, has work, but was temporarily absent

No, did not work.

If No, skip to next module.

Best practice!!


Suggested “best practice” on economic activity proposed for Africa Addendum to UNSD P&R 2010. Option 2: Branch only after 2nd (probing) questionX: “Last [period], did (NAME)...?” X+1: “Besides (...), did (NAME)...?”

Question X (check one):

Last week, did (Name):

1. Work? >>Q Z.

2. Have work? >>Q Z.

3. Look for work? >>Q Z.

4. Go to school?

5. Perform household tasks?

6. Do other things?

Question X+1 (check one), Besides (…), did (Name):

1. Help in a family business?

2. Sell some product?

3. Make some product to sell?

4. Help on a farm or with livestock?

5. Do some other activity in exchange for pay?

6. None of above >>skip to next module

Best practice!!


Suggested “best practice” on economic activity proposed for Africa Addendum to UNSD P&R 2010: 3. Add no question—only a few additional wordsand do not skip!”

Question X (check one):

1. Worked for pay/profit/family gain.

2. Had work, but didn’t work.

3. Looked for work?

4. Went to school; didn’t work at all.

5. Performed household tasks; didn’t work at all.

6. None of the above.

Best practice!!

Thank youhttp://international.ipums.orgadditional information* * * * * *Contact: