Modern and traditional

Few statistical offices were as advanced as CBS. Only Denmark and Finland conducted their censuses in the same way, using registers. Unique for the Netherlands was that it used survey data to fill gaps in register data. Germany counted its population using traditional methods, conducting a micro census of a sample of 10 percent of the population. France used a rolling census system: each year it counted a small part of the country so that after five years the whole country had been counted. As many households moved home in the course of these five years, many people were not included in the data while others were counted twice. Even more traditionally: in Albania enumerators with paper forms rode donkeys in rural areas to collect census information.

2011: ten thousand tables

CBS’ virtual census takers had to supply ten thousand data tables with 10 million cells to Eurostat – the statistical bureau of the European Union – which had commissioned the census. A team of fifteen people worked on this for over four years; their budget: 1.4 million euros.
Well ahead of the census, the CBS team had started checking whether the sources contained sufficient information to calculate all the required variables, whether the methodology was suitable for consistent estimates, and whether data security measures were in place. They subsequently conducted pilots with existing data. The 2011 data were collected in 2012, and one year later the definite tables were compiled.

The tables were made available to Eurostat on 1 April 2014: data on population composition and growth (demography), occupations and education levels, and the housing situation of everyone living in the Netherlands. Most tables were available at provincial level, but tables were also compiled for each of the over 400 municipalities. Once the tables were ready, Eurostat staff extracted the data from the CBS database and transferred them to the central EU Census Hub dataset. The Dutch data are included in sixty compressed mega tables.


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