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The treatment and processing of population statistics
Current population statistics1 may be distinguished from statistics of population movement2 or statistics of population change2, They deal with the static aspects of the subject and give an instantaneous picture of the population at a given moment of time: the statistical units (110-1) used are generally households (110-3), individuals (110-2), etc. Statistics of population movement are concerned with the continuous processes of change which affect a population, and deal largely with vital events3, such as births, marriages, deaths, and with migration (801-1). They deal with population development4, sometimes also called population dynamics4. Censuses (202-1) are the main source of information on the state of the population5. Vital statistics (211-6) are the principal sources used for the study of population movement6 or population change6, sometimes called general population movement6. Occasionally they deal with natural movement7 only, i. e., they do not take into account movement between the population studied and other populations, hut logically migration statistics (cf. 804-1) are part of the statistics of population movement.
- 6. The term population movement was originally applied to the geographical movement of the population and is still often used in that sense, but its meaning has been extended in some recent writings to include movement of population in time.
Population censuses1 are taken to obtain information about the state of the population (201-5) at a given time. Most frequently all inhabitants of a particular country are counted simultaneously: the census is then called a general census2. Occasionally, however, only a section of the population is counted, e. g. persons of European descent, or inhabitants of a given area; in which case the census is called a partial census3. The term "census", however, denotes that there is complete coverage4 of the population, i. e., that every member of the population concerned is counted. In this sense partial censuses differ from sample surveys5 (cf. para. 160). Censuses or surveys are sometimes preceded by pre-tests6 or pilot surveys6.
- 1. census n. — censal adj. The inter-censal period is the time elapsing between two censuses.
- 4. complete adj. — completeness n.
- 5. The term sample census has occasionally been used for a sample survey in which the sample was very large, but this usage is not recommended.
An enumeration1 is any operation which is designed to yield a population total. It differs from a simple count2 in that a list3 is generally prepared. An inquiry4 or survey4 on the other hand, is generally an operation which is designed to furnish information on a special subject (e. g. the labour force) and which has limited aims. A field inquiry5 or field survey5 is an inquiry in which information is obtained by personal interview6. In postal inquiries7 or mail surveys7 questionnaires (206-3) are sent out by post with a request to return them completed. In, censuses, information may be obtained by personal interview or by the householder method8 (cf. 111-2*) or self-enumeration8, where the questionnaire is completed by the respondents (204-1) themselves.
- 1. enumeration n. — enumerate v.
- 2. count n, — count v.
- 3. list n. — list v.
Persons who answer questions in a census or survey are called respondents1 or informants1. Persons who collect the information are called interviewers2, field workers2 or enumerators2, the last term being occasionally reserved for persons collecting information in a census. Enumerators generally work under the control of supervisors3 (cf, 355. 3) or inspectors3. General censuses are usually taken by the statistical departments4 of the individual countries.
- 4. In the United States of America the office responsible for the census is called the Bureau of the Census; in England and Wales it is the General Register Office, in Scotland the General Registry Office; both are headed by a Registrar General.
Censuses are generally compulsory1, i. e., respondents (204-1) are under a legal obligation to provide the required information; in this respect they are different from voluntary inquiries2, where the problem of non-response3 may become important. This is particularly the case in postal inquiries (203-7), where it is often necessary to follow-up4 the first questionnaire by a second, or sometimes by a visit. Non-respondents5 are often divided into those who refuse6, i. e., who are unwilling to co-operate in the inquiry, and those who could not be found by the interviewer (204-2). The latter are counted as no contacts7.
- 6. refuse v. — refusal n.
The forms1 (cf. 345-5) used for the collection of information have a number of different names. The term schedule2 is often used, especially the term census schedule2. Most of the forms are questionnaires3,particularly when they are designed for completion4 by the respondents themselves. At other times officials obtain statements5, or particulars6 which they extract7 from documents primarily used for non-statistical purposes.
A census schedule may be an individual schedule1 containing information relating only to a single individual, a household schedule2 containing information relating to each of the members of a household (110-3), or a collective schedule3 or enumerator’s schedule3 on which the enumerator enters successively data for all the persons he enumerates. There may be special schedules for the institutional population (310-7), which are called institutional schedules4.
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