Czechs gear up for 2011 population and housing census

The Czech Statistical Office is gearing up for the 2011 population and housing census which is to take place on March 25th-26th. The massive undertaking involving thousands of people took five years to prepare and is preceded by a nationwide media campaign.

Illustrative photo: Štěpánka Budková
Population and housing censuses are undertaken once in ten years and have periodically taken place on Czech territory since 1869. Formerly a mere count of people, apartments and houses, the new censuses aim to map ever more information about the country’s inhabitants, their property and way of life. The 2011 census will be the first since the country’s entry to the EU and is expected to reflect many changes in the structure of the population and the way of life. The vice president of the Czech Statistical Office Stanislav Drápal explains:

“In 2001 we were in the position of a candidate country, while now we are a member of the EU, we are in the Schengen zone, all that is very important because 10 years ago we were a buffer state between the EU and other countries while now we are in the middle of the EU. I think it will be very interesting to compare the data concerning foreigners in the Czech Republic because in 2001 the share of foreigners in the population was only 1.2 percent and according to police statistics from the end of last year foreign nationals should now make up 4.5 percent of the population. That is one interesting area, another concerns the aging of the population, which is a significant phenomenon in the Czech Republic. And I would also mention the situation concerning so-called singles. In previous censuses singles generally denoted old pensioners, old women. Now we see two very different social groups –on the one hand the old ladies, pensioners, and on the other a rapidly growing group of young, dynamic, successful people in a very specific social position, which is very interesting information not just for psychologists and demographers but also for developers of dwellings.”

Stanislav Drápal
Starting March 7th postal workers will make rounds of every household in the country –paying several visits if necessary in order to hand over the census forms in person. The census concerns foreigners residing in the country as well as those who are here for a period of over three months. The forms will be available at reception desks in hotels in eight foreign languages including English, French, German and Russian and hotel staff will be ready to provide assistance in filling them in. Stanislav Drápal explains why foreigners are being asked to take part.

“If we are talking about tourists who are here for a couple of days or a week –that is not information that would be significant for social, demographic or economic analyses. But people who live here for 90 days or more certainly have some relationship to this country – use of infrastructure, transport, waste production etc. as well as the money they spend here which impacts the general economic situation of this country.”

The completed forms can either be picked up by the postal worker who delivered it, sent by post or people can fill in electronic forms, though they still need to get a paper form in order to fill in their respective “number” assigned in order to prevent duplicity. Within strict measures intended to guarantee privacy people filling in electronic forms will not be able to save them – only send them to the respective email address –after which they should receive confirmation of reception almost immediately. All forms must be returned by April 14th for processing. The results of the census should be available by the end of the year.