stuttgart. How do people live in Baden-Württemberg? Where do they work? Do you live in rented accommodation or in your own home – alone or with your family? What degrees do they have? These questions are important for political decisions concerning the future of Germany. From mid-May, around ten million randomly selected German citizens will be asked about their marital status, nationality, living and working situation in the census.
“Those who don’t participate are hurting themselves,” says Norbert Brugger, head of the city council. Because for the municipalities, the so-called census is the basis for all planning – from nurseries to schools and retirement homes.
The survey will begin on May 15, the results of which are expected in the fourth quarter of 2023. The last census dates from 2011.
Who is counted?
Not all residents of the country are counted. Only a random sample should provide information about their living conditions. In the southwest, there are 1.7 million inhabitants, or about 15%, five points above the national average. The reason: the country has a relatively large number of small communities. In order to obtain the desired quality of population figures in all municipalities, a larger percentage of men and women must be interviewed in small towns than in large towns, explains Alexander Grund of the National Statistics Office . A complete census is targeted in one special area only: it is collective housing – from student dormitories to residences for the elderly.
How is it counted?
Households selected for the sample will receive a suggested date starting in mid-May. On the agreed date, the interviewers come personally and ask questions about names, gender, marital status, date of birth, nationality and residential status. “Investigators only enter the house or apartment with express permission,” says Grund. Access data for an online questionnaire with further questions on education and work will then be transmitted. The online procedure plays an increasingly important role for statisticians, not least because of climate protection. All the 2011 paper questionnaires piled on top of each other would have topped Mount Everest.
What is billed?
In addition to the number of inhabitants, religious affiliation, marital status, school or university diplomas, profession, employer’s industry and any part-time jobs are queried. A possible migratory background is also recorded. There are three new topics in the census of buildings and apartments: net cold rent, energy sources for heating and the duration and reasons for a vacancy.
Can I opt out of the entire survey or an answer to certain questions?
In order to ensure a high degree of accuracy of the results, there is a legal obligation to provide information. If respondents do not comply even after several reminders, sanctions can be imposed.
About 12,000 investigators swarm. The volunteers are subject to statistical secrecy. The requirements for the position are age, reliability, a good knowledge of German and confidentiality. For their work, they receive from urban and rural municipalities an allowance of 800 euros and more. Corona has made it difficult to find so-called investigative agents this year.
How long does it take on average to answer all the questions?
According to statisticians, the effort for citizens is weak. The on-site survey lasts a maximum of five minutes, answering the online questionnaire about ten minutes.
What do the municipalities think of the census?
The representative of the Brugger city council hopes that this time there will be no upheavals like in 2011, when household samples were only taken in municipalities with 10,000 or more inhabitants. This was seen as unfair by larger communities. Population figures have been revised downwards in many cities – with considerable financial consequences. According to the calculations of the municipal association, a missing resident in the sample of municipalities with 10,000 inhabitants or more meant on average about 100,000 euros less in financial equalization allowances during the decade of validity of the survey. 2011 census.
How does the top data protection officer assess the 2022 census?
The state data protection officer, Stefan Brink, has nothing to complain about. “The census poses no problem in terms of data protection,” he says. The data is immediately entered into the statistics. A personal reference can then no longer be established. He and his colleagues are following the campaign closely. “We no longer see ourselves as opposed to the state.” It depends on a wealth of information in order to avoid unwanted developments – especially the pandemic has shown.
When is the next census?
Since the census was postponed from 2021 to 2022 due to the corona pandemic, the next census will take place in nine years, i.e. in 2031.