After ten years, the Czech Republic is once again about to have a nationwide census. Everyone has to participate by filling out an online questionnaire or a paper form. There will be fewer census questions this time and filling in via the internet shouldn't take more than 15 minutes. The emphasis on electronization of the census is crucial in the current uncertain coronavirus situation.
The first census in the independent Czech Republic took place in 2001. Back then, there was no alternative other than complex, multi-page forms. It took a long time to complete them and the process required extensive coordination between the commissioners who collected and processed the forms.
During the 2011 census, everything became much simpler, because filling out the forms via the Internet was given a greater role. And the Internet will, once again, play a crucial role in next year's census. "We are focusing primarily on online census, which can be completely safely from home. That way people won't catch the flu, or the coronavirus," says Marek Rojíček, Chairman of the Czech Statistical Office. According to his words, 25 % of people chose to participate online last time; this time the office expects at least 60 % of people to opt for this alternative.
"The census can be best described as a photograph of the population; it determines the structure of society, i.e. people, houses and flats. We are interested in how people live, work and what their education or nationality is," Rojíček explained, adding that censuses take place in most countries of the world. "In today's interconnected world, it is a highly coordinated effort. And it has a long historical tradition - to be specific, here in the Czech lands we have accurate data since 1869," he added.
The budget for the 2021 census is 2.1 billion crowns and over 10,000 employees and commissioners will be involved. It will be a combination of statisticians and employees of the Czech Post, tasked with the distribution and collection of paper forms in the field. The census is mandatory; should someone refuse to participate, they're risking a fine of 10,000 crowns.
Filling out basic information and basic data on persons, households and housing will be mandatory. Questions concerning nationality or religion are voluntary. Citizenship, marital status or real estate information will no longer be included in the questionnaire, the state has this information in its registers and will use it for census purposes. Matrimonial property or the health status of persons won't be determined either.
It is important to know that all data will be anonymized after the census and used only for the purpose of statistics. The forms that residents have to fill are immediately shredded, once the census is completed.
One of the first censuses, before taking a regular and modern form, took place as early as 1770 on the basis of a decision by Maria Theresa. Back then, the census involved persons, houses and draft cattle. Once it was completed, people were not allowed to change their last name.
During the census in 1890, an unusual situation arose in the brewery in České Budějovice. The bosses were urging the employees to declare German nationality and language, even though they were mostly Czechs.
In the 2011 census, a total of 15,070 people said they professed the religion of the Jedi Knights from the Star Wars movie saga.