Census in Hong Kong
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Population census in Hong Kong (Chinese: 香港人口普查), a collection of demographic data in Hong Kong, is conducted by the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong Government. The census has been held every ten years since 1961 and the by-census is held between two census. The last census was in March 2011 and by-census was from 15 July to 1 August 2006.
The census is based on the administrative districts in Hong Kong to find out the characteristics and trends in population. The census is conducted on a large scale and a wide range of data are collected. Statistics collected would be a reference for Hong Kong Government to make policy, or for private organisations for research.
Census and Statistics Ordinance
Census and Statistics Ordinance, which was first effective in 1978, is the main law governing the work of the Census and Statistics Department. The Ordinance provides for the taking of a census of population and the collection, compilation and publication of statistical information concerning Hong Kong and for matters connected therewith. It also provides strict safeguards on the confidentiality of data pertaining to individuals or undertakings. For example, CAP. 316 S Census and Statistics (2001 Population Census) Order and CAP. 316 U Census and Statistics (2006 Population Census) Order ordered the Commissioner shall take a census of population in specified period to obtain particulars of persons dwelling in Hong Kong. In particular, Section 4 stated that each person aged 15 or above occupying any premises subject to census shall give to the Commissioner particulars of the matters specified in the Ordinance.
Since 1841, when Hong Kong Island was ceded to the United Kingdom, the government has conducted a census in all villages on the island. The modern census began in 1961, and by-census in 1966 and continues every 10 years.
The census in 1961 and 1971 collected the details from every resident. From 1981 onwards, although counting of all residents is still conducted together with collection of basic information such as age and gender using a short questionnaire, the detailed characteristics are collected interviewing a large fraction of households using a long questionnaire. In the 2001 census, 1 in 7 households completed the long questionnaire and in the 2011 census, it was 1 in 10.
The by-census is similar to the census except relying solely on a large sample of households to deduce the characteristics. 10% of households were sampled in the 2006 by-census.
When census was conducted by questionnaire, a questionnaire was sent to each household and sent back to the department by the household. For interview, an enumerator would visit each sample household and fill detailed questionnaires for each household member.
March is often selected as the census month to avoid extreme weather conditions like typhoons and major long holiday or summer vacation. In order to recruit sufficient enumerators from secondary schools, a census holiday is implemented during the census year. By-census is conducted in July. The main source of enumerators are from teachers and university students. In the 2006 by-census, 5000 of enumerators were recruited with wages between HK$ 6528 to 11648.
Under the Census and Statistics Ordinance, specified persons are legally obliged to provide the information required by the 2001 Population Census. People who refuse to do so are liable to a fine of $500. Also, people wilfully providing untrue answers are liable to a fine of $5,000 and to imprisonment for 6 months.
In theory, the census counts every household member, even including illegal immigrants. To encourage those interviewed to provide true answers, their information provided is strictly confidential and the forms would be destroyed within one year.
It is an offence for census officers to disclose data pertaining to individual persons or individual households to unauthorised persons. All field workers are required to follow designated procedures strictly, and well-trained on the data confidentiality issues. Completed questionnaires are processed and stored in a special area and any movement of document are recorded. The questionnaires are destroyed within one year. No information of individual persons or households can be deduced from the processed data.
One of two forms are filled out by each household. One is called the short form while the other is called the long form
The Short Form
Questionnaires completed by households are named short forms. Questions include:
- set of question aims at enumerating the number of persons in the household.
- Relationship to head of household
- Year and month of birth
- Whereabouts at the census moment
- Total amount of time spent in Hong Kong in the past six months
- Total amount of time to be spent in Hong Kong in the coming six months
- Usual accommodation in Hong Kong at present
Information filled by census officer, such as:
- Type of quarters
- Present status of quarters
- Occupancy of quarters
- Number of households in the quarters
- Type of household
The Long Form
The long form includes the following data items in addition to all of that in the short form:
Information on household and quarters:
- Household income
- Number of living/dining rooms
- Number of bedrooms
- Number of kitchens
- Number of bathrooms/toilets
- Number of other rooms
- Tenure of accommodation
- Rates, Government rent and management fee
- Outstanding mortgage or loan period
- Mortgage payment or loan repayment
Information on household members:
Demographic and social characteristics:
- Marital status
- Usual language
- Ability to speak other languages/ dialects
- School attendance
- Educational attainment
- highest level attended
- highest level completed
- Place of study
- Mode of transport to place of study
- Field of education
Geographical and internal migration characteristics:
- Place of birth
- Duration of residence in Hong Kong
- Place of residence 5 years ago
- Economic activity status
- Place of work
- Mode of transport to place of work
- Earnings from main employment
- Earnings from secondary employment
- Other cash income
Write In Campaign 'Canadian'
It has been suggested that question P8 (short form) regarding ethnicity be answered with more information, in particular for the 300,000+ Canadians in Hong Kong. A write-in campaign to fill in 'Canadian' was launched in June 2011. However, this campaign reflects confusion about the distinction between ethnicity and nationality.
Write-in campaign 'Hongkongers'
A proposal was floated in mid-2013 that in the 2016 by-census Hongkongers should report themselves as 'Others" or 'Other Asians' instead of 'Chinese', and write in as 'Hongkongers' or 'British Hongkongers', whichever more relevant to the respondents. The proposal also suggested that Taiwanese people based in the territory should avoid reporting themselves as 'Chinese'.