The French 1999 population census

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					               The French 1999 population census
                                                        General description

The thirty-third French population                   geographic units. The preliminary              the    occupancy-tax        (taxe
census was carried out between                       counts will be released by                     d’habitation ) rolls were broken
M a rch 8 and April 3, 1999, in                      end-June 1999. Final numbers                   down by block and made
metropolitan France (mainland +                      will be certified by government                available to INSEE census
Co rsi ca),      the    overseas                     decree at year-end 1999.                       supervisors as an additional tool
départements (Départements                                                                          for verifying the completeness of
d ’Outre-Mer: D O Ms), and the                       The statistical tables describing              the data-gathering process.
Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon islands in                  socio-demographic structures
the North Atlantic.                                  will be available from Q2 2000.

By comparison with the previous                                                                         Five years’ preparation
census in 1990, the counting                             Refining the counting
procedures were improved, the                                 procedures                            Census users were surveyed in
processing program was entirely                                                                     late 1993 by INSEE regional
overhauled, and the dissemination                    The new counting procedures seek               offices (Directions Régionales:
plan was redesigned for                              to remedy the weaknesses of the                DRs) under the aegis of the
compatibility with the newest                        1990 census identified in the                  National Council on Statistical
communications media.                                collection assessment and the                  Information (Conseil National de
                                                     post-census survey.                            l’Information Statistique: CNIS).
                                                                                                    The poll yielded requests for the
     Resident population                             First, INSEE has introduced a                  inclusion of new questions in the
       figures by 1999,                              specific procedure to improve the              census schedules. These were
    detailed results in 2000                         census of students. Second, it                 tested in 1994 to determine the
                                                     has added special procedures for               response rate, comprehension by
The census, it will be recalled,                     editing data collected on the                  respondents, and the best
serves two major purposes:                           institutional population. Third,               possible wording.

- to determine the resident ( de
jure ) population of the country’s
                                                                                     Uses of the census
administrative       geographic
divisions; 1                                            • More than 200 laws and regulations use the resident population as a
                                                        reference, particularly in the following areas: central-government subsidies to
                                                        local government, voting procedures in municipal elections, number of
- to acquire data on the                                municipal councilors, size of municipal workforce, compensation and benefits
socio-demographic and occupational                      for local-government employees, urban planning and public works, local-tax
structures of the population and the                    rates, rent legislation, and opening of new pharmacies.
char a c t e r i s t i c s o f t h e h o u s i n g      • The census statistics on socio-demographic structures find a variety of
stock in all geographic areas,                          applications in analysis, research, forecasting, and policy-making—not only at the
regardless of their population                          national level but, even more so, at the local level. In this epoch of intense social
size.                                                   change, it is essential to measure individual situations and mobility patterns at the
                                                        most detailed level possible (for example, at the neighborhood level in large
                                                        cities). For instance, determining the school population and projecting its future
The basic count of dwellings and                        trend is helpful in planning educational infrastructure. Likewise, municipalities and
people will yield a wealth of                           départements need to locate seniors in order to take decisions that will improve
information, given the significant                      their living conditions. More generally, central and local government officials rely
changes that have occurred                              on census data to provide insights and decision-making aids in policy areas such
during the nine-year intercensal                        as employment, training, social and public-health protection, community, cultural,
                                                        and sports facilities, and transportation.
period, particularly in the smaller
                                                        • The census also gives a update on dwelling conditions, as measured by the
                                                        level of housing amenities. These inputs enable urban planners, development
1. Population with double counts for                    authorities, and sociologists to submit proposals to public decision-makers for
municipalities (communes), without double               improving living conditions.
counts for higher-ranking administrative

Courrier des statistiques, English series no. 6, 2000                                                                                           1
Jean-Christophe Fanouillet, Jacqueline Lacroix, and Chantal Madinier

                                                   An expanded training                   (“Count on Me!”). INSEE set up a
                                                         program                          special telephone number to
                                                                                          answer questions from the public.
                                               A training program was prepared            Information was also put on line on
                                               as early as 1996, defining the             a videotext server, 3614
                                        *      initiatives to be targeted at each         RECENS99 (accessible via the
                                               category of census pl ayer s:              “Minitel” screen phone) and the
         [*Count on Me!]                       enumerators, supervisors, technical        INSEE website,
                                               advisors, census managers in
Examples of additions to the                   INSEE regional offices, and persons        Two programs were targeted at
individual schedule are questions              in charge of the resident population,      specific audiences:
on educational attainment and                  data capture, automated coding
enrollment in an educational                   checks,            di ssemi nat i on,      - “Learning packs” for fourth- and
institution, and on the means of               administrative issues, and other           fifth-graders (ca. ages 9-10) and
transportation used in daily                   areas.                                     for     middle-school       pupils
commuting between home and                                                                (particularly in seventh and eighth
work.                                          Each in i t i at i ve def i ned i n t he   grades) were sent to every
                                               program involved the preparation of        elementary-school principal and to
Questions on housing were also                 a special training module by a group       the heads of all middle-school
changed to provide a better view of            of experts on the topic in question.2      libraries. Approved by the
household amenities and mobility.              An educat i onal gui de w as               Education Ministry, these
For example, there are new                     distributed for each module.               materials facilitated classroom
questions on the year the                                                                 discussion of the population
household moved into the                       The 1999 census training program           census as a civic event.
dwelling, surface area, number of              was carried out in five successive
rooms with plumbing fixtures, and              stages: (1) formation of a steering        - Plans were also made to explain
availability of a parking garage.              committee, (2) training of trainers by     the census to specific categories
Additional questions for apartment             the working groups, (3) general            who might be reluctant to
buildings concern the presence of              training course entitled “Around the       participate: seniors, foreigners,
an elevator, a superintendent, an              Census in Two Days,” (4) support for       people with disabilities, and the
electronic access code or                      census managers in INSEE regional          unemployed. Messages were
intercom.                                      offices, and (5) preparation and           tailored to their particular
                                               implementation of special training         concerns. For this purpose, INSEE
Trials on improving collection                 modules by the working groups.             enlisted the help of organizations
procedures were conducted in                                                              such as welfare agencies,
1995-96. The main objective was to                                                        charities, and the Post Office,
establish the viability of the new              A large-scale information                 which are in regular—if not
proposals on student enumeration                        campaign                          daily—contact       with     those
and the use of occupancy-tax rolls.                                                       categories. The organizations
                                               From mid-February 1999 to the end          disseminated census information
In March 1997, INSEE organized a               of the data collection on April 3,         in the form of INSEE-supplied
general trial run in which some                more than 300 messages were                posters and brochures or by
260,000 schedules were gathered.               broadcast on prime time on the             publishing articles in their
This was a sufficient number to test           main television channels. INSEE            magazines.
the new processing chains, whose               also ran announcements in all the
development had required extensive             regional dailies starting on March 8.
preparatory work. At the end of
1997, all the regional offices were            A variety of documents were also
asked to participate in the collection         sent to municipal authorities to
of about 100,000 schedules. This               enable them to convey information
rehearsal enabled all census players           to local residents. The media
to ready themselves for the actual             included posters for street display,
1999 operation.                                leaflets announcing enumerators’
                                               visits, and brochures for the general
2. These working groups were responsible for
designing the educational materials,
                                               This communication campaign
recommending implementation procedures,        was identified by a common logo
and training the trainers.                     and slogan: “ Comptez sur moi! ”

                                                                                                                    The French 1999 population census

                                                                          Student census
                                                               Three problems, one solution
 • Students form a highly mobile population: they are hard to enumerate, and their place of (legal) residence is often hard to
 determine. The problem has been aggravated by the increase in the student population: the number of secondary and
 higher-education students aged 19 and older rose from just under 870,000 in 1968 to slightly over 2,220,000 in 1990.

 By way of illustration, the post-1990-census survey showed that the under-enumeration rate, which came to “only” 1.8% for the
 total population, reached 3.2% for persons living alone and 7.4% for grandchildren of reference persons in private
 households—two categories in which students are over-represented.

 • As we know, since the 1962 census, some people can be counted in the resident population of two different municipalities.
 These are the notorious “double counts,” most of whom are people living in an institution in one municipality but having their
 personal residence in another municipality.1

 As regards the student population, only two categories of students were considered liable to be double-counted until the 1999
 census: (1) students living in collective accommodation (such as university residences and student hostels); (2) students
 enrolled in “preparatory classes” for the grandes écoles2 and, as such, lodged as boarders in high schools (lycées). Category (2)
 thus excluded students living in privately rented urban accommodation.

 • The third problem is actually related to the preceding one. An examination of the 1990 census revealed that some students
 housed in private dwellings (a category that includes rooms rented in urban areas) were wrongly given two individual schedules
 and therefore enumerated twice. The first schedule was distributed in the municipality where they were studying, the second in
 the municipality of their family residence.

 In practice, this third problem is not an issue for students living together as a household or living with their parents: in principle,
 neither of these groups maintains alternative places of residence. The situation is different for the other students, i.e., for the
 most part, those who are no longer living with their parents but do not yet constitute families in their own right: there were
 380,000 such students in 1990. They are substantially at risk of being double-counted, since they can also be enumerated at
 their parents’ homes.

 The post-1990-census survey turned up a double-count rate of 2.8% for the group comprising students and workers in collective
 dwellings, school boarders, and sub-tenants. This compares with 0.7% for the total population.

                                             Students at École Nationale de la Statistique et de l’Analyse
                                               de l’Information (ENSAI), one of the two grandes écoles
                                                             that train France’s statisticians

                                                                   Photograph by Bertrand Doleu
 Drawing the lessons from these findings, INSEE decided to implement a three-step control procedure for the 1999 census in order
 to (1) improve the quality of the student census, first by a targeted search, then by properly identifying students’ places of residence
 (in principle, their places of study); (2) adopt uniform methods for enumerating students. The three steps are as follows:
 - The enumerator prepares a special schedule (BI2bis) for any student with ties to a second private dwelling in another
 municipality. The form asks for a precise listing of the student’s identity and the two addresses.
 - The enumerator submits the schedule to his or her supervisor, who captures it in the videotext application called “Census
 Messaging System.”
 - Subsequently, an exchange takes place with the supervisor in charge of the second address provided by the student. The case
 is examined by the two supervisors involved in order to determine the municipality of family residence (where a double-count
 form will be filed) and the municipality of the student’s own (main) residence (where the individual schedule will be filed).

 1. For further details on these concepts, see volume 2 of the user’s guide to the 1999 census (Guide d’Utilisation du RP99) or the “blue” brochure series on the 1999 census.
 2. University-level training institutions with selective entrance examinations.

Courrier des statistiques, English series no. 6, 2000                                                                                                                            3
Jean-Christophe Fanouillet, Jacqueline Lacroix, and Chantal Madinier

    Guaranteeing privacy
                                                       Partnership between municipal authorities and INSEE
As a mandatory official undertaking,
                                              The census is an operation conducted under the authority of the central
the census follows a stringent                government, locally represented by the municipal authorities. Mayors are
procedure approved by the                     responsible for the undertaking of the census of dwellings in their municipalities;
National      Commission         on           they must also organize the census (for example by making workspace available
Information Technology and Civil              and hiring enumerators1)—in compliance with specific instructions from the Interior
                                              Ministry and INSEE.
Liberties (Commission Nationale
de l’Informatique et des Libertés:            INSEE is responsible for preparing the census and monitors its progress in the
CNIL). Special attention is                   field, in particular as regards the completeness of information-gathering.2 The
devoted to issues of data security            Institute thus ensures the consistency of the entire operation and the comparability
and confidentiality at every step             of results. It is also in charge of enumerating the institutional population. Lastly,
                                              INSEE is the only body allowed to access individual information for
in the process: collection,
                                              statistical-processing purposes.
processing, analysis, and
dissemination.                                1. The 115,000 enumerators hired by municipal authorities for the 1999 census were
                                              coordinated and trained by 3,600 supervisors specially recruited by INSEE. The supervisors
All enumerators and, more                     were, in turn, overseen by 450 INSEE technical advisors.
                                              2. The territory of each municipality (commune) is divided into sectors, each composed of one
generally, all persons taking part in
                                              or more districts. Each enumerator is in charge of one sector. He or she delivers the
census operations are bound to                schedules to each household in the sector, and collects the schedules a few days later.
professional secrecy under penalty
o f prosecuti on. All persons
specifically hired for census work
were asked to sign a confidentiality         the IRIS 2000 “ nei ghbor hood”                  usi ng SI C O R E and M CA - RP
agreement.                                   ( quartier ) for the general public.             software. Only uncoded schedules
                                             Restrict i ons have al so been                   will be processed manually. Beyond
At the post-processing stage, the            imposed for sensitive variables such             these technological innovations, the
g u idel i nes        adopted          for   as nationality.                                  statistical processing—like that of
disseminating the findings will                                                               the 1990 census—will be carried out
prevent individual identification,           The enf or cement of t hese                      i n t w o phases: f i r st , a “ lig h t ”
even by indirect means. No detailed          confidentiality rules is guaranteed by           processing (but more intensive than
files will be released for areas of          a corpus of l aw s and of f i ci al              i n 1990) ; second, a “h e a v y ”
fewer than 50,000 inhabitants: only          documents: the “Statistics Act” of               processing of a one-fourth sample.
statistical tables will be available.        June 7, 1951; the “Information
The lowest geographic level for              Technology and Civil Liberties Act”              The dissemination program was
dissemination purposes will be the           of Januar y 6, 1978; and t he                    prepared in consultation with users
“block” (îlot) for local authorities, and    proceedings of the CNIL session of               and submitted in May 1997 to a
                                             March 24, 1998, i n w hi ch t he                 CNIS inter-organization training
                                             Commis si on appr oved t he                      session. A wide range of products
                                             population-census plan.                          will be offered, in step with the
                                                                                              compl et i on   of     succ e s s iv e
                                                                                              processing stages. While printed
                                              A brand-new processing                          versions will remain an important
                                             system and a dissemination                       medium, INSEE will give priority to
                                                 program tailored to                          electronic dissemination via the
                                                     new media                                Internet and CD-ROMs.

                                             The census data will be captured by
                                             means of optical-reading technology
                                             that involves digital scanning of
                                             questionnaires, optical character                        Jean-Christophe Fanouillet,
                                             recognition (OCR) software, and                                 Jacqueline Lacroix,
                                             videoco di ng of unr ecogni zed                                and Chantal Madinier
                                             charact er s and ent r i es ( i n                       Chantal Madinier heads INSEE’s
                                             videocoding, operators capture data                         Population Census Division;
                                             by viewing images of schedule                              Jean-Christophe Fanouillet
                                             fragments on screen). The files                                 and Jacqueline Lacroix
                                             obtained will be coded automatically                           are on the Division’s staff.