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Will the census actually measure anything?

Guest Post

With all the noise about a housing crisis and the mass shortage of housing in New Zealand, I find it intriguing that the latest Census of Population and Dwellings appears to have completely abandoned trying to determine just how many dwellings there are now in New Zealand.

In 2006, to raise some spending money for an overseas trip I took on some part-time work, delivering, and then collecting, census forms.  The process, that involved thousands of man hours across the country, saw individual workers visiting every driveway within their given area and determining if there was a dwelling.  For each dwelling, there was a form and then for each person who was residing at that dwelling on census night, there was an additional individual form.   
For every dwelling form, the address was noted down in the worker’s ledger along with the number of individual forms that had been delivered.  In the case where there was no clear sign that there were any inhabitants of a dwelling, four individual forms were left.

On collection, if it was evident that there were no inhabitants, the forms were collected and while no individual persons were counted, the dwelling was still included in the ledger data.

So how are vacant dwellings being accounted for this time around?  Especially when the entire thing is online and there are no “men on the ground”.

The 2018 New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings thus far appears to have been a complete omnishambles.

After the Christchurch earthquake, the Auckland housing crisis, the Hamilton city-sized population of homeless, you’d have thought that getting a pretty solid handle on how many dwellings there actually are in New Zealand, and more importantly, how many of them are vacant, was a fairly important statistic to gather.

 

-Name withheld by request


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