What is it about?

The backbone of the permanent population and housing census (PPHC) is the statistical Population Register (RBI), while two sample surveys (Areal survey and List survey) are conducted annually to evaluate and correct the coverage errors of RBI and collect the data needed to produce Census outputs. In 2020, following the cancellation of the field surveys due to the pandemic, a process integrating available data from the past waves and administrative ‘signs of life’ was set up in order to estimate population counts at municipal level for age, sex and citizenship. This obliged push towards a larger use of administrative data has called for a rethinking of the statistical framework, with survey data used for the quality measurement of a fully register-based population count estimation.

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Why is it important?

Integrating data from different sources for producing census data is becoming increasingly common. With regard to population count, information from all available sources (administrative data, data from previous censuses, data from sample surveys and from longitudinal databases) is integrated at the record level and decision rules (or ‘activity’ rules) are often applied to ensure that only individuals who meet some pre-defined usual residence criteria are included in the final estimates. This process, also known as the ‘Signs of Life’ (SoL) method, is a widely used tool to assess and possibly reduce over coverage in statistical registers (i.e. inclusion of records that are not part of the usually resident population) and It is also explicitly mentioned in the Draft Framework Regulation on European Statistics on Population (ESOP) as a possible statistical method to implement an harmonised usual residence population across EU.


The paper provides a description of the methodology used in the PPHC and of the issues related to the quality assessment of a fully register-based population count. ISTAT methodology is also discussed in comparison to other administrative-based censuses and with reference to the role of data integration and the methods used to to perform it.

Donatella Zindato
Istat (Italian National Institute of Statistics)

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Improving the design of the Italian permanent population and housing census: a transition towards a massive use of administrative data, METRON, November 2023, Springer Science + Business Media,
DOI: 10.1007/s40300-023-00256-1.
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