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Background Notes

Background Notes

CSO statistical publication, , 11am
Census Results 2022 Branding
Census 2022 Results

This publication is part of a series of results from Census 2022. More thematic publications will be published throughout 2023 as outlined in the Census 2022 Publication Schedule.


The 26th census since 1841 was carried out on the night of Sunday, 03 April 2022 in accordance with the Statistics (Census of Population) Order 2020 and in order to facilitate the EU requirements arising from the implementing legislation associated with Regulation (EC) No. 763/2008 on population and housing censuses.

Coverage of the Census

The census population figures in this report relate to the de facto population meaning persons who were present in the State on the night of Sunday, 03 April 2022. The de facto population includes persons who do not usually live in Ireland but who were in the State on Census Night. It excludes persons who usually live in Ireland but who were temporarily absent, outside of the State, on Census Night. Persons who were present in the State were enumerated and are reported at the location where they spent Census Night. This may not have been the location where they usually live.

Conduct of the Census

The 26th census was originally scheduled to take place on the night of Sunday, 08 April 2021. Following advice from the CSO, the government decided in September 2020 to postpone the census for approximately one year owing to the ongoing difficulties arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

For the purposes of census enumeration, the State was divided into 6 Census Liaison Areas, 46 Regions, 466 Field Districts and 5,100 Enumeration Areas. Census Enumerators were assigned to these Enumeration Areas and, during the five weeks before Census Night, delivered census questionnaires to all dwellings that were expected to be occupied on Sunday, 03 April 2022. Each address within an Enumeration Area was recorded as either occupied, unoccupied or not suitable for habitation.

The collection of completed questionnaires took place between Monday, 04 April and Friday, 06 May 2022.

The data in this report is based on the information handwritten on the census forms. After collection, the census forms were returned to CSO where they were scanned to capture and digitize the handwritten information. This digitised information was then processed to prepare it for publication.

De Facto versus Usual Residence

The date of the census was chosen to coincide with a period when as many people as possible were at their home address and consequently the figures closely approximate the normally resident population.

The de facto measure of the population represents all persons who were present in the State on Census Night, irrespective of whether they were usually resident in the State at the time of the census.

The usually resident and present measure of the population refers to all persons who usually live in Ireland and who were present in the State on Census Night. It excludes persons who were not usually resident in the State on Census Night but who were present and persons who were usually resident in the State but were outside the State on Census Night.

The usually resident and present measure is used when analysing topics such as country of citizenship and households and families.

Definitions and Additional Notes

Private Household

A private household comprises either one person living alone or a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address with common housekeeping arrangements - that is, sharing at least one meal a day or sharing a living room or sitting room. In order to be included in the household, a person had to be a usual resident at the time of the census. Therefore, visitors to the household on Census Night were excluded, while usual residents temporarily absent (for less than 12 months) were included. A permanent private household is a private household occupying a permanent dwelling such as a house, flat or bed-sit. A temporary private household is a private household occupying a caravan, mobile home or other temporary dwelling.

Non-private Household (Communal Establishment) 

A non-private household is a group of persons enumerated in a boarding house, hotel, guest house, hostel, barracks, hospital, nursing home, boarding school, religious institution, welfare institution, prison or ship. A non-private household may include usual residents and/or visitors. However, proprietors and managers of hotels, principals of boarding schools, persons in charge of various other types of institutions and members of staff who, with or without their families, occupy separate living accommodation on the premises are classified as private households. 

Year Built

Census 2022 reports over 93,000 new dwellings built since 2016. The CSO’s new dwelling completion (NDC) series for a comparable time period spanning Q2 2016 to Q1 2022 reported approximately 108,000 dwellings. While the data collection methodology varies significantly for both approaches, the key difference between the two figures is that the Census 2022 figure is for occupied dwellings only, whereas the NDC data is for all completed dwellings. Also, due to it being a self-completed questionnaire, there can sometimes be estimation error in gauging the age of the dwelling when householders complete the census form.

Reference Person

The reference person in each private household is the first person in the household identified as a parent, spouse, cohabiting partner or head of a non-family household containing related persons. Where no person in the household satisfied these criteria, the first usually resident person was used as the reference person. In this publication, the reference person is referred to as the ‘head of household’.

Housing Stock

The housing stock is defined as the total number of permanent residential dwellings that were available for occupancy at the time of census enumeration. In this report, the housing stock consists of permanent private households (inhabited by both usual residents and visitors), holiday homes, vacant houses or apartments along with dwellings where all the occupants were temporarily absent on Census Night. However, communal establishments, temporary private households (e.g. caravans and mobile homes), along with dwellings categorised by the enumerators as being derelict, commercial only, or under construction are excluded from this definition.

Private Dwelling

A private dwelling is the room or set of rooms occupied by a private household in a permanent housing unit. There is thus a one to one correspondence between such private households and private dwellings and the numbers of these entities are the same in all instances.

Number of Rooms

The number of rooms occupied by a private household is the total number used by the household. This includes kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, conservatories you can sit in and studies, but excludes bathrooms, toilets, kitchenettes, utility rooms, consulting rooms, offices, shops, halls, landings and rooms that can only be used for storage such as cupboards.

Vacant Dwellings and Holiday Homes

In identifying vacant dwellings, enumerators were instructed to look for signs that the dwelling was not occupied (e.g. no furniture, no cars outside, junk mail accumulating, overgrown garden etc.) and to find out from neighbours whether it was vacant or not. It was not sufficient to classify a dwelling as vacant after one or two visits. Similar precautions were also taken before classifying holiday homes.

Holiday homes are categorised as dwellings that are only occasionally occupied. While they are mainly found in rural areas (particularly along the coastline), holiday homes could also consist of city apartments used for weekend breaks etc. Before indicating that a dwelling was a holiday home, enumerators were instructed to call to the dwelling several times prior to Census Night and at various call times. Enumerators were advised to consult with neighbours as to whether a dwelling was used as a holiday home.

When the enumerator had clear information that a dwelling was used as a holiday home, the dwelling status was recorded as 'Holiday home' in the Case Management System, the mobile application used by enumerators in Census 2022 to assist in the enumeration process.

Dwellings under construction and derelict properties were not included in the count of vacant dwellings. As a result, the empty housing units were classified as vacant house, vacant apartment or holiday home only if the dwelling was considered fit for habitation by the enumerator. In the case of newly constructed dwellings, that meant that the roof, doors, windows or walls had to be completely built or installed. For older dwellings that were unoccupied, the roof, doors and windows had to be fully intact.

The measure of housing vacancy used in the census is a point in time measure of vacancy. It includes dwellings that were identified as vacant by enumerators based upon several visits to the property shortly prior to and after Census Night, as well as local enquiries. Dwellings which may only be vacant for a short period of time may be included as part of the Census vacancy count as well as dwellings which may be vacant for a longer time period. As such, it is not correct to conclude that dwellings being vacant in the census infers that they may be available for reuse or to provide accommodation for an individual or household.

Significant differences may exist between the Census measure of vacancy and alternative measures of vacancy produced by other organisations. While there may be varying reasons for this, the key difference is that the Census measure of vacancy is based on a point in time assessment undertaken by a field force of over 5,000 enumerators operating under a uniform set of instructions and definition of vacancy in a short period of time around Census Night.

More information on Census vacancy can be found in the Census 2022 and Vacant Dwellings FAQ.

In order to provide additional insight into the potential duration of vacancy, CSO has produced information on the potential reasons for vacancy. This was collected as part of the Census 2022 field operation by enumerators who were required to give an indication as to why each dwelling in their area was being declared vacant. These reasons are indicative and were based on local enquiries at the time of the census. It is possible that dwellings were vacant for more than one reason.

CSO has also provided new information on dwellings which were vacant in previous censuses (2011 and 2016) and also vacant in 2022. This data may be used as an indication of longer term vacancy, although it is possible that dwellings may have been occupied in the intercensal periods.