C.E.N.S.U.S. 2018

Possibly …

CENSUS appears to be an acronym for Can’t Enumerate Numbers So Use Supposition. Dr Jian Yang was on the hunt again during Question Time on Thursday.

James Shaw was an inspired choice as Minister for Statistics as he is a believer in models, data manipulation and in-filling missing data. These are the common techniques upon which the global temperature rise is predicated.

It seems that there is a small problem with C.E.N.S.U.S. 2018 in that there was a lower than normal response (only 90%) and this lack of response was heavily weighted to some sectors of the population.

Although this appears to be common knowledge, Shaw said he could not possibly comment until all the results were released, as it would be like giving the results of an exam while it was still in progress.

No, it would be like saying how many students turned up to sit the exam compared to how many were expected.

The figure shows the sources of census count and characteristic information in the 2018 Census.
Counts of people can be obtained from real people by census survey enumerations or admin enumerations.
Counts of people can also be obtained through unit imputation.
Characteristic information for real people who filled in census forms comes from census survey responses, 2013 Census responses, or another administrative source. Missing items may be imputed or remain missing.
Characteristic information for admin enumerations comes from 2013 Census responses or an administrative source. Missing items may be imputed or remain missing.
Characteristic information for imputed units can only come from item imputation or will remain missing.
Stats NZ

There is the actual count, some historical 2013 data, splice in some numbers from admin sources, impute a few more data sets and lo and behold, a population growth chart.

Oops, no, sorry – wrong graph. Moving on …

Although maybe counting tree rings could help Stats NZ?

Will there be a legal challenge when a Maori electorate is created or deleted based on this made up, imputed data? Watch this space.

But back to the House on Thursday. Quote.

Dr JIAN YANG (National) to the Minister of Statistics: Which demographics and areas of New Zealand were most under-reported in Census 2018, and what impact does he expect that will have on those areas and demographics?

Hon JAMES SHAW (Minister of Statistics): The member is, effectively, asking me to divulge the results of the census before they have been released by the Government Statistician; to do so would be a breach of the Statistics Act 1975. […] End quote.

… so, sorry, I cannot tell you which demographics are under-reported.

But wait – two answers later … Quote.

Hon JAMES SHAW: Stats NZ are continuing to build a picture of the impact of lower individual response rates for M?ori descent and iwi affiliation data. They are increasing their engagement with M?ori interest organisations and with iwi to both confirm data needs and to look to develop complementary strategies where needed. End quote.

Oops! Quote.

Dr Jian Yang: Is he concerned that Statistics New Zealand have stated, “Secondary data sources cannot provide some information, such as M?ori population statistics and iwi affiliation.”?

Hon JAMES SHAW: The reason why it’s taking longer than normal to report on the output of a census is because Stats NZ are working with administrative data to supplement the results of the census to produce a very high-quality data set. They are doing this very thoroughly. It is taking some time, but I do believe that we’ll be able to give people what they need when they need it. […] End quote.


Yeah, well, Stats NZ have got a lot of work to do filling in stuff, supplementing stuff and guessing stuff, but the results will be “very high-quality” guesses, so that is encouraging.