2020 Population Census


In order to plan for, and implement, economic and social development, administrative activity or scientific research, it is necessary to have reliable and detailed data on the size, distribution and composition of population. The population census is a primary source of these basic benchmark statistics. The census provides the numerical profile of a nation – its people, who they are and where they live. This profile is the fundamental base of evidence-based decision-making at all levels, and is indispensable for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals

The traditional census is among the most complex and massive exercises a nation undertakes. It requires mapping the entire country, mobilizing and training an army of enumerators, conducting a massive public campaign, canvassing all households, collecting individual information, compiling vast amounts of completed questionnaires, and analysing and disseminating the data.

Countries in the GCC are committed to an administrative register-based 2020 Census.   This means using administrative records as the base, or supplemented by fieldwork to provide the wide range of population and housing information.

GCC-Stat adopted the 2020 Population Census as one of the statistical priority projects.  The statistical objective is to use administrative sources to conduct a harmonized population census in 2020 for the GCC region, in such a way that agreed datasets can be validly aggregated to the GCC level in a manner consistent with the UN recommendations for the 2020 round of population censuses.

The project is being conducted according to the following international, regional and local considerations:

  1. The United Nations recommendations for the 2020 global census round to provide detailed statistics on population, housing and establishments at the lowest geographical level (smallest administrative unit level
  2. The decision taken by the GCC leaders to conduct a general population, housing and establishment census in 2010 and every subsequent “0” year during the 22nd Supreme Council meeting held in Muscat in 2001.
  3. Meet regional and local needs, to develop and support development plans in the GCC countries.

What is a census?

The population census is the total process of planning, collecting, compiling, evaluating, disseminating and analysing demographic, economic and social data at the smallest geographical level pertaining, at a specified time, to all persons and their related housing conditions in a country. The essential features of population and housing censuses are individual enumeration, universality within a defined territory, simultaneity, defined periodicity and small area statistics.

Methodology and Coverage

Censuses either provide information on the people who are present in the country at census time (known as the de facto count) or people who are usually resident in the country (sometimes known as De Jure count). The Usual Resident count is preferred, as it provides information of more value to decision makers.

Irrespective of the type of count, the census requires that each individual and each set of living quarters are enumerated separately and that the characteristics are separately recorded.  This is critical to ensure that the data on the various characteristics is able to be cross classified. The requirement of individual enumeration can be met by the collection of information in the field, by the use of information contained in an appropriate administrative register or set of registers, or by a combination of these methods.

The census should also cover a precisely defined territory (for example, the entire country).  Every person usually residing in the territory, and evert set of living quarters irrespective of type, are required to be counted.  Each person and each set of living quarters should be enumerated at the same well-defined point in time. The collected data should refer to a well-defined reference period.

It is important that censuses be taken at regular intervals so that comparable information is made available in a fixed sequence

Finally, it is critical that the census produce data on the number and characteristics of the population and housing units down to the lowest appropriate geographical level, compatible with national circumstance, and for small population groups, while protecting confidentiality of personal information on each individual.

Administrative Census

In an administrative census, information on individuals and households is collected from existing administrative sources, also known as administrative registers. Population registers and Address Registers form the backbone of the administrative census.  Information from these registers is then linked at the individual level with information taken from other administrative/statistical sources such as business, tax, education, employment and other relevant registers.

There are a number of pre-conditions for an Administrative census, including:

  • Availability of appropriate legislation and supporting laws in addition to the required political support that grant statisticians access to administrative records.
  • Rapid evaluation of administrative records to ensure that they meet statistical purposes and work towards achieving this objective.
  • Identify the requirements of census data users.
  • Work on the appropriate institutional systems and management structure for the census in the national statistical agencies.
  • Support the infrastructure of the automated environment in the statistical agencies so that it allows the building of a powerful interactive system with the databases of other administrative sources, in addition to the possibility of providing electronic connectivity.
  • Frameworks to assess the quality of administrative data in the census.

GCC Harmonised Census

To ensure that coherent and consistent statistics can be produced from the 2020 Census, GCC- Stat and member countries are adopting a number of key international and regional standards and classifications. These will include adoption and implementation of the following:

  • The international standards, definitions, concepts and classifications based on the United Nations recommendations for the 2020 population census round (third revision).
  • Common set of GCC census topics (Census Core Data Basket). These topics, which are based on the UN recommendations, represents the minimum core data required to be aggregated at GCC level.
  • Common census reference date
  • Relevant GCC and international classifications including GCC Occupation Classification and Description 2014 and the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC 4), International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED 2011)

Data Dissemination and Availability

Five of the GCC countries conducted censuses in the 2010 round, and information is available on their country websites.  The Kingdom of Bahrain conducted an administrative census in 2010, with the other countries conducting a fieldwork-based census.  All countries have committed to an administrative register based census for the 2020 round.

Data Quality 

All of the GCC countries endeavor to disseminate accurate high-quality data through the adoption of data quality standard.  Administrative based censuses require additional quality checks and GCC-Stat is working with countries to prepare manuals and training to support the in-depth assessment of the administrative sources.

Print Email