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Census will take stock of our mouldy homes – media release

For the first time in the census, everyone in New Zealand will be asked if their homes are damp or mouldy, Stats NZ said today.

In the upcoming 2018 Census a new topic will contribute to a national picture of the state of homes around the country, Government Statistician Liz MacPherson announced today.

“Census topics need to reflect the changing information needs of New Zealand, and be balanced with the ability to compare data over time. For the first time since 2001, I have decided to include new topics in the census, to help gather robust, independent information that can inform decision-making,” Ms MacPherson said.

“Our consultation highlighted the importance of collecting information on aspects of housing quality that affect health, and that the highest priorities were information about mould, dampness, and access to basic amenities.”

“In next year’s census, people will also be asked to answer a set of internationally comparable questions that will enable us to capture community-level information about people in New Zealand with disabilities.”

“We’ll be adding to the information we already produce from the census, which is used by central and local government, iwi, businesses, and community groups to help make informed decisions about how to plan services and allocate funding.”

Several other topics suggested for inclusion during the consultation period, including questions on sexual orientation and gender identity, were also tested. However, they will not be included in the 2018 Census.

“Following testing, including public testing in 2016, we were disappointed that we were unable to guarantee the quality of the information that we could gather through a self-completed survey such as the census,” Ms MacPherson said.

“Instead, we will include sexual orientation as a topic in our 2018 General Social Survey (New Zealand’s biggest survey of well-being), starting with public testing in September and data collection from April 2018. This survey will provide us with valuable insights about collecting this topic in other surveys in the future.”

“We will also continue working to develop a clear approach for collecting data on gender identity, sexual orientation, and the intersex population. This will include further investigation of the best way to collect the data and how we can guarantee the quality and comparability of the information captured.”

Ends

For media enquiries, contact: Nancy Linton, 021 710 430 or James Weir, 021 285 9191, email censuscommunications@stats.govt.nz
Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 31 July 2017

More information

2018 Census report on final content outlines all the content decisions for the 2018 Census.

What is the census?

The census is an official count of how many people are in New Zealand. It's a snapshot of the people who live here and the places they call home. The data collected is used to inform important decisions, including where to spend taxpayers’ money on services like schools and hospitals.

When is the next census?

The next census is on Tuesday, 6 March 2018. Before census day, most households will be sent a letter with a unique access code so they can respond online. In some parts of the country, we’ll still deliver census packs, but all households will be able to take part online. Paper forms will be available for those who prefer them.

How much does the census cost?

The funding for the 2018 Census is spread over five years, totalling $119 million. The funding started on 1 July 2014. While additional costs are involved in setting up the new collection model for 2018, we anticipate a saving over two census cycles, as the tools and systems we are building for 2018 can be used again for the following census.

How will the new housing data be used?

The new housing data that we collect will be used to help address housing quality issues and measure housing deprivation. The data will also feed into the legislative requirements of councils, and will help to inform public health action and target resources (eg where poor quality housing is linked to asthma and rheumatic fever). The ‘access to basic amenities’ data will also be used for civil defence and emergency management planning.

Collecting information about our intersex population

As part of our testing for the 2018 Census, we tested how we could collect information from people who are biologically intersex, as we know that they are unable to accurately represent their biological sex with a two-category question (male/female).

Stats NZ will not be including a third category for sex in the individual form of the 2018 Census.

Unfortunately, the quality of the results from our public testing was very low, and wouldn't enable us to produce an accurate population estimate.

This decision reflects the challenge that statistical agencies all over the world are facing. Providing an alternative to a two-category sex question is proving difficult to design, given the need to guarantee the quality and comparability of the information captured. To date, no agency has introduced a third option for biological sex in their census.

Stats NZ is developing an alternative way to capture intersex population information in the 2018 Census. We are committed to working with representative groups to ensure an alternative way is available for the intersex population of New Zealand to be able to answer this question accurately.

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