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What is the Census?

A Census is simply a statistical survey that aims to cover a complete count of the population rather than a sample or cross-section of that population. This is the largest and most complex statistical exercise carried out in Gibraltar and usually takes place once every ten years.

The last Censustook place on Monday 12 November 2012. Legislation is required to allow the Census to take place: a Census Act (2012 Census) Order, 2012 and Census Act (2012 Census) Regulations 2012 as provided for under the Census Act 1951. The United Nations (Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses) defines the Census as follows: "A Population Census is the total process of collecting, compiling, evaluating, analysing, and publishing or otherwise disseminating demographic, economic and social data pertaining, at a specified time, to all persons in a country or a well defined part of a country."

What makes the Census different from other statistical surveys is that everyone is asked the same questions at the same time. The Census is the most comprehensive source of information about the population. The fact that it includes all persons, unlike a sample survey that covers only a percentage of the population, means that the taking of the Census is an expensive exercise.

Why do we take a Census?

The main purpose of the Census is to provide important information on the entire population. This information is used extensively across the public and private sectors and has many important uses including:

  • Provides a full count of the population.
  • Helps formulate Government policy in housing, education, health, transport and employment.
  • Provides a base for population and housing projections, which are required for planning and decision making for services.
  • Improves the quality of information collected from other data sources such as administrative systems, address registers and sample surveys. Informs and supports research.

The Census is the only way of obtaining detailed information on the population. If we know how many people live in Gibraltar, we can work out what types of services they need now and in the future. With statistics from the Census, Government can allocate funds, decide future policy and plan important services such as: