​sources and methods

Methodology and Research

 Contact Information:

Ms Anne Marie Pace
Head of Unit​
2599 7301

Census in Malta


The Census of Population and Housing is a nationwide exercise which is generally carried out approximately every ten years.  It is an official measure of persons, households and dwellings in Malta and Gozo, taken at a point in time.  Official censuses in Malta date back to 1842, with the 2011 Census being the 17th in the series.  The next round of collection of census data will be held in 2021.  Such data collection provides definitive statistics on the demographic and social condition of residents and households, including information on housing and amenities at a national, regional and local level.  This information is compiled on the basis of a harmonised methodology as stipulated by European Regulations (EC) No. 763/2008 and (EC) No. 1201/2009.

Methodological description

The 2011 Census questionnaire ensured continuation with previous censuses that were carried out in Malta, and conformed to the UNECE and Eurostat recommendations on concepts and definitions for population censuses.  The 2011 Census was based on the traditional methodology, whereby paper questionnaires were distributed among households, to be eventually collected by enumerators during a period of four weeks.  Malta was divided into 1,021 Enumeration Areas (EAs), with each one consisting of a number of streets, or parts thereof, in a particular locality. Each EA contained an average of 180-230 dwellings.  Enumerators were provided with a geographical map as a guide and a list of streets which fall under the particular EA.  Maps were useful to identify boundaries of the enumerators’ assignment and to permit checks in terms of coverage.

In a follow-up exercise a form was mailed to all those households where it appeared that someone had been left out after enumeration.  The list included also any non-Maltese nationals in possession of a local identity card. Results were benchmarked with administrative registers in order to reduce as much as reasonably possible the extent of under enumeration.  From this exercise the corresponding under-and over-enumeration were calculated and duly accounted for.  Administrative data sources were then used for verification purposes and to cater for unit non-response.

Accuracy and reliability of data

Wrong or inconsistent data was double-checked at source by the enumerators, supervisors, and district managers, as well as at a later stage with the corresponding household members (if necessary).  A number of in-built validations were included in the data-entry program to check the validity of keyed data by establishing acceptable values.  Available administrative sources and survey registers were used in order to improve the consistency of recorded data as well as for benchmarking purposes.

Timeliness and punctuality of data

A number of publications related to census data are available on the NSO’s website.  For the Census of Population and Housing 2005, a preliminary report was published in April 2006 while final data for the population and dwellings was published in August and October 2007 respectively.  For the Census of Population and Housing 2011, a preliminary report was published in October 2012 while a final report on population and dwellings was published in January 2014.

For the last census round, final data in hypercubes was provided to Eurostat 27 months after the end of the reference year.

A one-time news release entitled ‘Census of Population and Housing 2011: A focus on Surnames’ was published in January 2013.  This was published on the NSO’s website on the on the pre-established date as scheduled in the Advance Release Calendar​.

Accessibility and clarity of data

Census publications and news releases are available to external users on the NSO website.  In addition, a metadata report for the 2011 census was submitted to Eurostat and made available on Eurostat’s website.  A similar report was produced at a national level and disseminated on the NSO’s metadata website. 

Coherence and comparability/consistency of data

Data is comparable between all Member States through the use of harmonised concepts as established in the regulating framework.  In particular, the concept of ‘usual residence’ whereby enumerated persons had to live in the reporting country for a continuous period of at least 12 months; or arrived during the 12 months before the reference date with the intention of staying there for at least one year, was adopted by all member states.

Census data is comparable with demographic data in view of intercensal revisions and the application of similar principles.  Comparison of data between different censuses should be done with caution due to definitions underlying the total enumerated population in a particular census.  The same holds when comparing data by region between different censuses, since the boundaries of some of the local councils which identify the localities may have changed over time. 

Questionnaire | Metadata