‘Online, postal or phone survey available for Census’

The once-in-a-decade population census has begun, with people being urged to make use of online questionnaires or hand in paper forms by post to avoid the need for a face-to-face interview during the pandemic.

The census will last from Wednesday to August 3 and the information collected will provide a snapshot of the city’s demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the population that will help the government to formulate future policies and academics can also make use of the data to help their research.

Apart from the typical questions on people’s age, education and occupation, the census forms will also feature a new question on elderly people that require care because of Hong Kong’s ageing population, the Census and Statistic Department said.

“There’s a demand for such kind of data to know more on, for example, in which districts are there more elderly people and how many of them are taken care of by paid workers or unpaid family members,” said the department’s commissioner Marion Chan.

Chan said people will start receiving the forms by post in the coming weeks, and they can either fill them in and mail back the attached paper questionnaire, scan the QR code on the letter and complete it online, or do it all over the phone.

It normally takes about 10 minutes to complete the forms, while those who received a longer questionnaire will need about half an hour to finish theirs, Chan added.

Some 7,000 to 8,000 field workers, who will be tested for the Covid-19 virus every two weeks, will visit the homes of anyone who fails to complete the questionnaire. The face-to-face interviews will be conducted from mid-July.

“We would like to promote the use of online questionnaire, telephone interview and postal returns. I think people are quite ready to use all these means of submission of questionnaire because of Covid-19,” Chan said.

The commissioner conceded that the data they collect won’t be able to tell them how many people have emigrated from the city, and she also dismissed concerns that people would not be forthcoming when providing details given the current political atmosphere.

She said most of the time people are cooperative after they re told about the purpose of the census, adding that the questions asked aren’t that sensitive anyway.

Those who fail to complete the survey, or give false information, could be fined up to HK$5,000 or imprisonment.