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‌‌‌Public Consultation on Questionnaire Content

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) invited submissions on the content of the questionnaire for the 2021 census during a public consultation process that ran from 5th October 2017 to 3rd November 2017.

As the 2016 census was run as a no change census this is the first public consultation on the content of the census questionnaire since 2008.

The CSO has convened a Census Advisory Group (CAG), the membership of which is reflective of the key users of census data.  It is comprised of representatives of Government departments, local authorities, public bodies, the social partners, universities and research institutes, as well as CSO personnel.  The CAG is responsible for examining the submissions and determining new questions or changes to existing questions.  There will be a Pilot survey held in selected areas in September 2018 which will test census enumeration procedures and the proposed new questionnaire content.

As part of the public consultation process, persons and organisations were asked to include their suggested wording for the question, bearing in mind ease of completion and avoidance of ambiguity in interpretation.  All submissions required a detailed justification for each proposal with reference to the following:

  • The purpose of the user need and a description of the analysis that will be required

  • The specific need for the data at a small area level

  • The specific need for data for small population groups

  • Any legal or EU requirements for the data

  • The requirement for cross tabular analysis

A complete list of the 2016 questions, along with an indicator of whether or not the question is required under EU regulation (EC) No. 763/2008, can be viewed here Questions on the 2016 Census of Population (PDF 33KB)

View or download a copy of the 2016 census form Household form (PDF 2,170KB)

Further information on EU Regulation (EC) No. 763/2008 can be found here.

Update on consultation process

We have now moved to the next stage of the process.  Following the closure of the submission stage, to which we had an unprecedented response, the Census Advisory Group (CAG) was established.  The remit of the group is to assist the CSO in the framing of questions in the Census 2021 questionnaire, to be tested in the upcoming Census Pilot. 

All members of the group received a copy of all submissions in their entirety.

The CAG met on Tuesday 12th December, and a robust and informative discussion took place on the submissions received. In reviewing the submissions, consideration was given to EU regulations, possible alternative sources of data and the practicality of the questions proposed. Consideration was also given to the necessity to provide data at a small area level, the burden on respondents and the cost of processing census data. 

In order to assist in the framing of the Religion, Ethnicity and Disability/Health questions, a decision was made to set up 3 separate subgroups.  CAG members were invited to send representatives to the subgroups and the CSO also invited additional stakeholders.  All three subgroups met on 22nd January and the findings of these groups were presented to the 2nd CAG meeting on 21st February.  

View or download the minutes from the first CAG meeting Minutes from first CAG meeting (PDF 141KB)

View or download the minutes from the second CAG meeting Minutes from second CAG meeting (PDF 172KB)

Next Steps 

When the pilot is complete and the results are analysed, the group will meet again to discuss the findings. At which time the Census 2021 questionnaire will be framed. 

Results of Consultation

The conclusions of the Census Advisory Group will be published on the CSO web site in the first quarter 2019.  The final content of the 2021 Census questionnaire will be subject to Government approval.

Please note that submissions may be published on and are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2014.