Population & housing censuses - Population and demography
Background information: Population & housing censuses
This section provides information on population and housing censuses, which are the backbone of population and social statistics.
What is a census?
Typically, every 10 years, a census counts the entire population and housing stock of a given country and collects information on its main characteristics (geographic, demographic, social and economic, plus household and family characteristics).
The census is a rich source of statistical information, ranging from the lowest geographical divisions, covering small areas, to the national and international levels.
Population and housing censuses in the EU are based on European statistical legislation that sets out key statistical definitions and the data and metadata to be produced by EU countries.
Census rounds 2021 and 2011
The 2021 EU population and housing census is ongoing
The 2021 EU census round comes at a time of fundamental transition: administrative data sources have become the backbone of the next census in most EU countries. This leads to more powerful census systems and addresses rapid changes in user expectations, with regional detail becoming increasingly important.
A major innovation will be the presentation of key census topics on an EU-wide 1 km square grid. This will allow for much more flexible analysis, even at cross-border level, tailored to research or policy needs.
Looking to the past: 2011 EU population and housing census
The 2011 EU census round was a milestone. For the first time, European legislation defined in detail a set of harmonised high-quality data to be collected by census in the EU Member States.
Given the large volume and richness of data, new means of data transmission were needed. To meet this challenge, a modern and innovative technical tool for transmitting and disseminating data from the national statistical institutes had been developed and used - the Census Hub.
How is census data disseminated?
Census data are published for each census round using three dissemination channels maintained by Eurostat:
The data are kept in in the dissemination tools for a long time due to the importance of the statistical information they provide.
The Census Hub is the main tool where data of the 2021 population and housing census in the EU can be found; information will be uploaded as soon as they becomes available in each EU Member State.
Shortly after the final data provision deadline of 31 March 2024, all the data will also be available in the Eurostat database.
In March 2023, georeferenced data to a 1km square grid will be available in the GISCO website section.
What is the Census Hub?
The Census Hub is the result of a major joint effort by the European Statistical System (ESS) to better disseminate the results of the population and housing censuses in Europe, providing users with easy access to detailed census data that are structured in the same way and methodologically comparable between countries.
The Census Hub is based on the concept of data sharing:
- National Statistical Institutes (NSIs) provide access to their data according to standard processes, formats and technologies,
- Eurostat provides the IT structure that allows users to quickly and flexibly specify, compile and extract data stored in the different national census databases,
- NSIs remain 'proprietors' of the data and keep complete control over them.
What data is available?
Data collected by the Member States for the census rounds 1990/91, 2001 and 2011 are available in the Eurostat database. They are available on national level and, for most census rounds, regional breakdowns are also available.
Census data cover persons, families and households, as well as dwelling and housing arrangements:
- Data on persons include the population structure (the population broken down by sex and age groups), educational and employment characteristics, and migration characteristics of the population
- Data on families and households are categorised by types and sizes
- Data on dwelling types and housing arrangements
The data collected through the different census rounds evolve, as users’ needs and respondents’ technical capacities develop. For example, regional breakdowns got more detailed over the past few census rounds, and in 2021 Member States are implementing the data collection of selected variables on a 1km square grid.
Please note: The census data are not microdata; they are aggregated data structured according to the tables agreed with Member States and defined in the legal implementing rules for the census.
When will data for the Census 2021 be released?
Data collected in the 2021 EU population and housing census round will be provided to Eurostat in two steps:
- By 31 December 2022: Data collected on a 1km square grid
- By 31 March 2024: All other census data
How is data quality ensured?
EU Member States implement their censuses based on a harmonised methodology that is internationally aligned, for more information see our 'Methodology' page.