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2018 Census will deliver reliable data for New Zealand

2018 Census will deliver reliable data for New Zealand – Media release

12 July 2018

New Zealanders can be confident the 2018 Census will produce accurate and high-quality data which can be relied on by communities and decision-makers, Stats NZ said today.

“The digital-first approach we used for this year’s census exceeded our expectations, with more than 82 percent of census responses coming in online,” Deputy Government Statistician Denise McGregor said. “What is even better is the fact that online data is high-quality data.”

To complement the online campaign, 2018 Census field teams made almost one million household visits to encourage and support people to complete census forms, whether online or on paper.

“However, we did experience a drop in our overall participation rate, which is a long-running trend statistical agencies around the world are grappling with,” Ms McGregor said.

“Despite this reduction, Stats NZ will produce a high-quality dataset by making use of reliable government data to fill in gaps.

Stats NZ has been using this imputation approach to fill in census data gaps since 2001, in line with international best practice.

We are not alone; other national statistical organisations have also been developing, trialling, and using methodologies designed to use admin data to complement and replace census data so we can learn from our colleagues.

Acting Government Statistician Kelvin Watson says New Zealanders can have confidence in Stats NZ’s commitment to providing a robust and reliable census dataset.

International experts to review 2018 Census operation and methodology

The 2018 Census imputation methodology has been discussed with a group of international census specialists, including members from the US Census Bureau and the UK’s Office for National Statistics. This peer review will continue as the methodology develops.

Stats NZ is setting up an independent panel of data and statistics experts to assess the census results as they come out and to give confidence in the results.

In addition, we will have a full independent external review and will work closely with the State Services Commission on this, including the development of the terms of reference.

This review will be undertaken once the census dataset has been completed and the findings of this review will be reported to the Government Statistician and to the State Services Commissioner.

Stats NZ brings forward release of updated population estimates

The government makes its funding decisions, such as how to allocate district health board (DHB) spending, based on Stats NZ’s subnational population estimates, which factor in migration patterns, and birth and death rates to provide a statistically robust estimate for how the population has changed since census night.

“Stats NZ has traditionally not released updated population estimates until many months after census results are released,” Ms McGregor said.

“After this census we will release this data earlier than we have for previous censuses.”

Revised census release date to have little impact on Representation Commission boundary review

Stats NZ has been working with the Electoral Commission and Land Information NZ to assess the impact of the revised census release dates.

It was expected the Commission’s boundary review would begin in March 2019, so this may be delayed by several weeks.

The boundary review will take place over a six-month period, which means even on this slightly revised timetable, the boundaries will still be confirmed before the end of 2019, and well ahead of the 2020 General Election.


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