Census 2022 – What does the country want to know and why?

Germany takes an inventory every ten years. Then the state wants to know more about the performance of citizens. Since May 15, it’s time again: the 2022 census, also known as the “mini-census,” has begun.

10.3 million randomly selected citizens are asked about the size of their apartment, their school qualifications, employment, and more. Politicians expect the data to improve planning. Skeptics fear government intrusion and misuse of their data.

of data collection and data protection

“We collect and evaluate this data so that we can identify our needs at the community, state, and federal level? What do we need in terms of care facilities, day care centers, schools, public transportation — everything that can have a positive impact on our lives,” says Katja Wilkin. The lawyer is the director of the census public project at the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden.

It tries to dispel any concerns about the lack of data protection. “All citizen data that we receive will not leave this house. We will delete as soon as possible once the data has been evaluated. The state is not interested in individual data from people, but in aggregate results.”

This “return ban” is also the result of the Federal Constitutional Court’s groundbreaking ruling after mass protests against the 1987 census. Therefore, Katja Wilkin does not expect any renewed census resistance.

Her appeal: “It is everyone’s contribution that decisions are made at the political level in a way that is also consistent with their interests.”

Bad data costs citizens dearly.

“Good data doesn’t necessarily mean good policies,” says Rainer Klingholz. The scientist was director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development from 2003 to 2019. On the contrary, good policy becomes impossible without reliable data. Only those who know how many people of any age and with what educational and social background live in what areas of the country can reasonably plan.”

And how many people actually live in Germany. The last census in 2011 showed that there were 1.4 million fewer people living in Germany than previously assumed. Many municipalities have dead files; People died, and they moved away. But the municipalities were happy to take the money for these citizens.”

The Dutch go on along: “They evaluate automatically. All records are also automatically linked there; unemployment insurance, pension insurance – they know from each other who is gone or died. Each citizen’s data is also allocated via an anonymous personal code. Errors cannot creep in, In theory, the Netherlands has an overview of the situation at all times,” says the population researcher.

His warning: “Bad data is expensive for citizens.”

Census 2022: What does the country want to know and why?
Gisela Steinhauer will discuss this on May 21 from 9.05 a.m. to 11 a.m. with population researchers Rainer Klingholz and Katja Wilkin of the Federal Statistical Office. Listeners can participate by calling 0800 2254 2254 or sending an email to gespraech@deutschlandfunkkultur.de.

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