Online participants up, but Census numbers down

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Despite more New Zealanders filling out the 2018 Census online, overall participation numbers are down on 2013

This year’s census participation may be 4.5 percent down on 2013, despite the number of online participants surpassing expectation, according to preliminary data from Stats NZ.

“Our interim calculations show that we have full or partial information for at least 90 percent of individuals, compared with 94.5 percent for the 2013 Census,” says Government Statistician Liz MacPherson.

Interim figures also show that of those that took part, more than 82% did so online, surpassing the target of 70% online participation, MacPherson says. The online census system has now been switched off.

“Because individual responses are lower than we had planned, we need more time than we’d originally anticipated to draw on other information sources and new methods to achieve the highest quality dataset,” she says.

Census data informs the level of Government funding that key services such as health and education receive in different locations around the country.

“Our next task is to do what we do best at Stats NZ and create the highest quality dataset we can, so that it can be used by government and organisations across New Zealand to help make informed decisions. This information is vital in deciding how much government funding your local hospital or school gets,”MacPherson says.

MacPherson says Stats NZ will not be able to release final figures for several months, and that the department will be conducting a full review to determine why census participation was down on 2013.

“We already know we didn’t get everything right. We built new systems and processes to run this census, and while the majority of New Zealanders were able to take part without a hitch, we know that some people did not have a good experience this year.

“As with every census, we will be undertaking a full independent review to ensure we can make improvements next time.”

Stats NZ says its research shows that 97% of the population were aware of the census. It conducted nearly one million visits over seven weeks and hand delivered more than 300,000 paper packs and around 400,000 access code letters to households, before census day. In addition, Stats NZ posted around 2.6 million access code letters and 233,000 paper packs and spent $2 million on advertising.

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