The census will give a comprehensive picture of the social and living conditions of our people in 2011. Only a census can provide such complete detail. The census is not, however, an end in itself! Rather the results are essential tools for effective policy, planning and decision making purposes.
Ireland has been conducting Censuses of Population since 1841. This enables us to track developments over a long period with considerable accuracy. The census is therefore a fundamental part of our national heritage and collective knowledge.
At national level current population statistics are essential for planning the provision of health care, education, employment, etc. Regional figures are critical for determining regional policy and for the operation of regional authorities (e.g. Health Boards).
The greatest strength of the census is the provision of detailed population figures at local level. These help to identify likely demand for schools and hospitals, areas of relatively high unemployment, the best location for new shops, etc.
Article 16.2 of the Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann) lays down that the total membership of Dáil Eireann depends on the population as measured by the census (i.e. 1 TD per 20,000 to 30,000 persons). Constituency reviews normally take place once the definitive results of the census have been published.
The census is also the only means of accurately measuring the exact extent of migration. By comparing the results of successive censuses, and taking account of the number of births and deaths that have occurred over the same period, we get an accurate measure of net migration (the difference between inward and outward migration).