|CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION
According to the handbook "Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses" of the United Nations Statistics Division, a census is defined as the "total process of collecting, compiling, evaluating, analyzing and publishing or otherwise disseminating demographic, economic and social data pertaining, at a specified time, to all persons in a country or in a well-delimited part of a country."1.2 Why take a Census?
A census gives a complete and comprehensive picture of the nation as well as groups of people living in specific areas. In what type of buildings and housing units are we living? What are the amenities and facilities that are available therein? How many rooms are there and what is the extent of overcrowding? How many people live in a given town or locality? How many children are there? How many women are there? How many are old enough to vote? What kind of jobs are we doing? What is our level of education? Do we have the required qualifications or skills to satisfy the needs of the labour market? The census helps to answer these questions and many others.
It provides up-to-date and disaggregated data on the housing conditions, the spatial distribution, and the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the population. These data are essential for assessing the country’s demographic, social and economic performance and for developing sound policies and programmes aimed at fostering the welfare of the country and its population.
Census data are also useful to business, industrial and commercial organisations to estimate and forecast demand for their products and services, and to assess the supply of manpower with the relevant skills to run their activities.
Furthermore, census data are used in the derivation of many important and meaningful social indicators that are needed by local and international organizations. Thus, many social indicators, as defined in the set of indicators recommended by the United Nations Statistics Division, can only be worked out from census data.1.3 Historical background
Census taking in Mauritius dates back to the 18th Century. The first complete census for the Island of Mauritius, then known as Isle de France, was taken in 1735 under the governorship of Mahé de Labourdonnais. Since then, numerous complete censuses or partial counts of the population have been made. However, the first census report to be printed was probably that of 1846. The 1846 census was followed by another one in 1851. Since then, and up to 1931, censuses have been taken every ten years. With the outbreak of the Second World War, the one due in 1941 had to be postponed to 1944. The first census after the War was taken in 1952, and the ten-yearly programme was subsequently resumed with a census taken in 1962 and another one in 1972. The one scheduled for 1982 was postponed to 1983 because of the 1982 parliamentary elections. The following census which was due in 1993 was advanced to 1990 to satisfy an urgent need for up-to-date data, particularly on the economic characteristics of the population. Census 2000 was the seventeenth for the Island of Mauritius and the seventh for the Island of Rodrigues.1.4 Methodology
Census 2000, like the three previous ones, was taken in two distinct rounds: the Housing Census followed by the Population Census four months later. The main reason for adopting this enumeration procedure was the possibility of obtaining at the Housing Census a list of names and addresses of heads of households which served as frame for the Population Census.1.5 Census dates
The Housing Census was conducted from 7 February to 18 June 2000 and the Population Census from 19 June to 16 July 2000 in respect of all persons alive at midnight on 2 July 2000.1.6 Coverage
The Housing Census enumerated all buildings, housing units, households, commercial and industrial establishments, hotels and boarding houses as well as fruit trees of bearing age on residential premises.
The Population Census enumerated all persons present on census night in all households and communal establishments, as well as usual residents who were away on census night.
Housing and population enumerations were conducted on the Islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues and Agalega. As regards St Brandon islands, only a count of persons spending census night on the islands was made, these islands being fishing stations with no resident population.1.7 Budget
The project value of the census was estimated at around Rs 75 Mn. Given the availability of existing infrastructure, services and human resources, the actual census budget worked out to around Rs 70 Mn.1.8 Legal framework
Census 2000 was conducted according to provisions of the Statistics Act of 7 April 1951. The underlying procedures are given in Sections 5, 6 and 13 of the Act.
In March 1998, the Cabinet agreed to the conduct of a housing and population census in year 2000. In June 1999, it gave its approval to the census dates and to the topics to be investigated.
The regulations for the Housing Census, prescribing the particulars and information to be collected, were subsequently prepared and approved by the President in November 1999. The regulations were published as Government Notice 170 of 1999.
In December 1999, the President made an order to the effect that a census of the population be taken between 19 June and 16 July 2000 in respect of all persons alive at midnight on 2 July 2000. The Order was gazetted in December 1999.
The regulations for the Population Census, prescribing the particulars and information to be collected were approved by the President in April 2000 and published as Government Notice 57 of 2000.1.9 Confidentiality of information collected
As stated earlier, the census was conducted under the provisions of the Statistics Act. The Act invests the Director of Statistics with the power to obtain particulars relating to a large number of topics, but at the same time it lays down strict rules to ensure that all information collected are kept strictly confidential. It forbids the publication of particulars in a way that enables identification of any individual person, undertaking or business. The Act also requires that every person employed in connection with the census to make an oath of secrecy to that effect before a magistrate. Penalties are provided for any breach of confidentiality. Furthermore, census field officers were provided with an authorization card duly signed by the Director. To safeguard the public against unauthorized persons, field officers had to produce their authorization card during interviews in connection with the census. Also, any person who refused or neglected to fill in the prescribed forms or to supply the particulars required, or knowingly made false statements, was liable to prosecution.