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 2021 Census being the 18th in the series. The next round of collection of census data will be held in 2031. 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. 543/2017.
The 2021 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 2021 Census permitted people, for the first time, to fill-in the census questionnaire through an online form which was accessible to the public from October 2021. Nearly 230,000 dwellings received an official letter with the login credentials via post in September 2021.
In a step towards a fully digitalised census, enumerators visiting dwellings recorded the information on tablet computers, rather than traditional paper questionnaires. Data collection by means of telephone was also possible. An application available on the tablet devices allowed the enumerators to identify any dwellings which did not submit the questionnaire online so that they could assist them in the process or fill out the form on their behalf. The synchronisation of multiple systems occurred overnight to ensure a smooth running of the process. Data collection from the field or by telephone was carried out between 8 and 28 November 2021. The enumeration process in certain areas was also extended to 15 December 2021.
Nearly 1,000 enumerators were recruited for canvassing and fieldwork activities within their designated area (formally referred to as enumeration areas) consisting of several streets or parts thereof in a locality, typically encompassing an average of 200 dwellings. The delineation of enumeration areas was carried out by means of optimisation algorithms developed internally and the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS).
To ensure a high-coverage rate of the preliminary Census results, the Census Office made extensive use of several administrative registers to estimate the information which was not yet available at the time of the writing of the preliminary report which was issued in August 2022.
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). Available administrative sources and survey registers are used in order to improve the consistency of recorded data as well as for benchmarking purposes.
A number of publications related to census data are available on the NSO’s website. 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, a one-time news release entitled ‘Census of Population and Housing 2021: Status report’ was published in March 2022 and a preliminary report was issued in August 2022.
Information about the final population count, together with any other information not included in the preliminary report will be included in a series of thematic reports which will be published starting from the last quarter of 2022.
A subset of statistical census data broken on the 1km2 reference grid will be sent to Eurostat in December 2022, whereas final data in the form of hypercubes will be made available to Eurostat by March 2024.
Census publications and news releases are available to external users on the NSO website. In addition, a metadata report for the 2021 census will be submitted to Eurostat and made available on Eurostat’s website. A similar report will be produced at a national level and disseminated on the NSO’s metadata website.
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.