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Census Bureau Helps Countries Conduct Their Own Censuses

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As the U.S. Census Bureau gears up for the 2020 Census, collecting a complete count of every person living in the United States, it is simultaneously aiding work on censuses beyond U.S. borders.

Overall, the Census Bureau is currently helping nine countries conduct population and housing censuses with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In total, the Bureau has worked helping enumeration efforts in over 100 countries spanning six continents over the past 80 years, sharing its skills and expertise in collecting, analyzing and disseminating quality data.

Why would a U.S. agency work with other countries?

“Because the world is better off with good data,” says Mitali Sen, chief of the Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Branch at the Census Bureau. “Good data are key to reducing poverty, improving health, political stability, and strengthening economies worldwide, including in the United States.”


A Handy Tool to Help Other Countries

Quality data also form a foundation for development in any country, whether it be the United States or a developing country in Africa or Asia. In order to aid these efforts, the Census Bureau partners with the National Statistics Offices (NSO) in developing regions of the world to provide training and technical assistance.

At the outset of a project, these offices can assess their strengths and needs with the Tool for Assessing Statistical Capacity (TASC).

Once needs are established, the Census Bureau organizes a wide range of activities to help countries conduct their censuses — from program management, planning and mapping to questionnaire development, data processing, publicity, data analysis and dissemination.

Over the years, many countries that the Census Bureau has helped, have gone on to become statistical powerhouses themselves, helping others in turn.

Jordan’s First Digital Census

In Jordan, the Census Bureau worked with the Department of Statistics (DOS) to help conduct their first digital census. To ensure complete coverage, the Census Bureau helped DOS produce a nationally integrated digital map of physical features — such as roads and rivers — combined with geographic boundaries for use during census enumeration.

The Census Bureau also conducts regional training in collaboration with the United Nations (UN) and other donor agencies to extend their reach to more countries. Participants from 18 countries attended a recent regional workshop on data disaggregation at the UN Statistical Institute of Asia and the Pacific.

“Our focus is on capacity building. We share our knowledge and introduce tools for data collection, transfer and processing like CSPro and demographic analysis and population projections like DAPPS.” Sen said.

In light of the upcoming global 2020 round of censuses, the Census Bureau is also producing a series of technical notes - Select Topics in International Censuses - that highlight new subjects, methods or operations relevant to census planners in low and middle-income countries.


Nobuko Mizoguchi is a Statistician/Demographer in the Population Division at the Census Bureau.


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