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ECE/CES – Group of Experts on Population and Housing Censuses – 12 th Meeting – Geneva, 28-30 October 2009. 5 Marzo 2007. A new strategy for the 2011 Italian Population Census. Product innovations and the compliance with CES Recommendations.

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ECE/CES – Group of Experts on Population and Housing Censuses – 12th Meeting – Geneva, 28-30 October 2009

5 Marzo


A new strategy for the 2011 Italian Population Census.

Product innovations and the compliance with CES Recommendations

Simona Mastroluca, Donatella Zindato ([email protected], [email protected])

Istat (Italian National Statistical Institute)

General Censuses Division

The planning of 2011 census background 1
The planning of 2011 census: background Censuses – 121

  • Decennial population and housing census

  • Conventional methodology (field enumeration, information collected and processed on a complete basis) but register-improved census

  • Main goals

    • determination of the legal population (usually resident population)

    • production of information on the main demographic and socio-economic characteristics of population

    • update of population registers (comparison between census data and Anagrafi, provided for by the Law on Population Registers)

The planning of 2011 census background 2
The planning of 2011 census: background Censuses – 122

Census ↔ Population Registers

(double way relationship)

Register-improved census

  • field enumeration is complemented by information coming from registers (used by municipalities for coverage checks during the enumeration phase)

    But also

    Census improved register

  • registers are revised on the basis of information coming from the field (persons not found at the census should be cancelled /persons not included yet in the Population Register but counted at the Census should be registered)

The planning of 2011 census background 3
The planning of 2011 census: background Censuses – 123

Complex and demanding organization

  • 2001 Census numbers

    • 22 million households / 100,000 enumerators /

      10,000 co-ordinators / 8,100 Municipal Census

      Offices / 103 Provincial Census Offices

  • Main actors

    • Istat = responsibility of enumeration, design and coordination, processing and dissemination

    • Municipalities Census Offices (MCOs) = fieldwork, coverage checks during enumeration, revision of forms, revision of population registers

The planning of 2011 census background 4
The planning of 2011 census: background Censuses – 124

Changing context

  • EU Regulation on Population and Housing Census (increased need for timeliness)

  • Huge organizational effort imposed on municipalities (sudden and time-concentrated increase of workload)

  • Changes in the population structure (growing percentage of elderly people, of one-person households, of dink couples) and lyfe-style

  • Feeling of dislike towards the census (information allegedly obtainable through administrative sources)

  • Increasing concern for confidentiality

The new strategy for the 2011 census
The new strategy for the 2011 Census Censuses – 12

  • Use of municipal population registers for compiling lists of enumeration units

  • Mail out of questionnaires

  • Multi-mode data collection system (CAWI, mail back, delivery to Municipal Collection Centres)

  • Evaluation of undercounting and integration of units non included in registers

    • traditional fieldwork assisted by auxiliary sources information


    • sample survey (capture recapture analysis for estimating the number of units missed by population archives)

  • Revision of population registers contemporary to field enumeration

The d emographic factor
The D(emographic) factor Censuses – 12

Organizational impact strongly dependent on the size of the municipality  demographic size as one of the most important risk factors in the past census round

The Censuses – 12EU dissemination programme1

  • Complete set of hypercubes clustering essential information that can be derived from the topics listed in the Framework Regulation (obligatory topics to be covered in Population and Housing Censuses in Member States)

  • NUTS 3 and LAU2 (in Italy municipalities) levels

  • national level and NUTS 1 and NUTS 2 levels

… ... Censuses – 12













All, All, All



The EU Census dissemination programme2

  • Each Member State shall provide the Commission with

  • few hypercubes for the level of LAU 2 and NUTS 3

  • several hypercubes for the level of NUTS 2

Short form / Long form strategy Censuses – 121

The allocation of the topics in the short and in the long form takes into consideration the structure of the hypercubes in terms of variables, breakdowns and geographical level

  • Short form: at least all the topics needed to produce the hypercubes for the level LAU2

  • Long form: all the topics included in the short form plus all the other topics (socio-economic variables) needed to produce the hypercubes for the level NUTS2

Short form / Long form strategy Censuses – 122

Hypercubes at Lau 2 level (all the topics are included in the short form and collected for the whole population)

only non sampling errors

Hypercubes at NUTS2 level (also topics included only in the long form i.e. information collected only for a sample of households)

partly based on estimates

How short the short form? Censuses – 12

  • Sufficient to include in the short form only a few topics (relationships between household members, sex, age, legal marital status and country of citizenship) but a few additional topics (such as education and activity status) would provide

  • data on educational and economic characteristics at a much more detailed geographical level

  • more auxiliary information (collected for the whole population) to be used either for direct estimation methods or for small area estimation methods in order to produce estimates related to topics included only in the long form

The use of 2001 Census data Censuses – 12

Survey on the use of the 2001 Census data by members of the Italian National Statistical System (Istat, 2006):

Demographic topics

Most used topics Current activity status

Educational attainment


60.7% LAU 2

Current activity status

18.5% NUTS 3

Geographical level

65.0% LAU 2 Educational attainment

18.4 NUTS3

2009 Pilot Survey: enumeration forms Censuses – 12

  • short form, including only the demographic topics needed to produce the Eurostat hypercubes for the level of LAU 2

  • medium form, alternative to the short form, including also questions on education, current activity status and commuting

  • long form, including all variables included in the short and in the medium forms plus additional variables

  • In the smallest municipalities (< 5,000 inhabitants) only long form

  • In the ones with 5,000 inhabitants or more, long form + either the short or the medium form

Short form or medium form? Censuses – 12

  • The spontaneous reply rates to the two shorter questionnaires (short and medium form) will be compared in order to decide which form should be used for the 2011 census.

    Need to find the balance between two opposite needs

  • producing information down to a more detailed geography

  • increasing the spontaneous reply rate so to reduce the number of field interventions by enumerators.

  • Studies to verify which topics, among those included in the medium form,are useful to improve the efficiency of sampling estimates relating to variables included only in the long form, will be carried out too.

Relationships between household members
Relationships between household members Censuses – 12

  • Traditionally, question on relationship to the reference person of the household.

  • In 2001 new response choices had been added to the same question (child of both the reference person and his/her partner, child of the reference person only, child of the reference person’ partner only) in order to identify reconstituted families.

  • 2009 Pilot Survey

    • introduction of a new category in order to identify the skip generation households (grandfather/grandmother of the reference person)

    • adoption of a partial household relationship matrix

Partial household relationship matrix Censuses – 12

The example below shows how to provide information for Antonio Rossi, his wife (Carla), their children Marco e Laura) and his parents (Bruno e Anita).

Partial household relationship matrix Censuses – 12


  • Allows to identify all family nuclei without asking all household members about their relationships with all other members (differently from the Relationship matrix approach)

  • Allows to identify most relationships between all household members (relationship to reference person is recorded as well)


  • still very complex method

    • difficult to manage for the respondent (not just simple answer but coding operation required)

  • Cognitive research test and Pilot Survey (October 2009)

Country of birth of parents
Country of birth of parents Censuses – 12

  • Major increase in the number of foreign citizens since the 2001 Census. Even greater increase in the larger population with foreign background (foreign citizens, second-generation immigrants and naturalized Italian citizens), due to the rise of mixed marriages and to the increasing number of citizenship acquisitions

  • Pros: high relevance of the topic in order to collect information on integration processes.

  • Cons: increase of the respondent burden and difficult question to answer to (not referred directly to the respondent)

  • 2009 Pilot Survey: included in the Long Form

Ever resided abroad
Ever resided abroad Censuses – 12

New topic included in the long form in order to

identify the group of ever-international migrants

  • Ever resided abroad

  • Year of last arrival to Italy

  • Country of previous usual residence

  • Core topic according to CES Recommendations

  • High relevance in a former emigration country like Italy

Characteristics of the job of the unemployed
Characteristics of the job of the unemployed Censuses – 12

  • 1991: collection of information on occupation, industry, status in employment for both employed and unemployed

  • 2001: on the basis of the high non response rate recorded at the Second Pilot Survey (2000), information on job characteristics was collected only with reference to employed persons

  • 2009: new test on the collection of job characteristics of the whole economic active population (both employed and unemployed): occupation, industry, status in employment, time usually worked (previously, time worked during the reference week), part time or full time job.

  • Analysis on the response rates and on the quality of the data collected; efficiency of sampling estimates (questions included only in the long form)

References Censuses – 12

Bonifazi C., Gallo G., Strozza S., Zindato D., (2008) Foreign and immigrant population: definition, categories and characteristics, Migration Studies, Volume XLV, n. 171, July-September 2008.

Crescenzi F., Fortini M., Gallo G., Mancini A., (2009) La progettazione dei censimenti generali 2010-2011. 6 – Linee generali di impostazione metodologica, tecnica e organizzativa del 15° Censimento generale della popolazione, Documenti ISTAT, n.6/2009,

Dardanelli S., Mastroluca S., Sasso A., Verrascina M., (2009) La progettazione dei Censimenti Generali 2010-2011. 5 – Novità di regolamentazione internazionale per il 15° Censimento generale della popolazione e delle abitazioni, Documenti ISTAT, n.1/2009,

Fortini M., Zindato D., (2008), The 2011 Italian population and housing census: innovations and challenges, ‘Les lundis de l’INED’, Paris, INED (Institut national d’études démographiques), Salle Sauvy, 17/04/08,

Istat, (2009), Accuracy evaluation of Nuts level 2 hypercubes with the adoption of a sampling strategy in the 2011 Italian Population census, ECE/CES Group of Experts on Population and Housing Censuses, Twelfth Meeting, 28-30 October 2009, Geneva, Switzerland.