One in eight households fail to complete census

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2011, 12:00am

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One in eight Hong Kong households had not filled in census forms by yesterday's deadline for completion of the 10-yearly exercise.

The Census and Statistics Department said about 300,000 households out of 2.4 million, or 12.5 per cent, had not completed questionnaires by themselves and the census takers could not contact them despite repeated attempts.

A department spokeswoman said census officers had left questionnaires with these households which they were required to complete and return to the department by August 15. She said the non-response rate for last census in 2001 was about 10 per cent, which was similar to this year.

'The relatively small number of households not being able to be contacted compared with the large number of households already enumerated will not have significant impact on the quality of the population census,' she said.

But statistics specialist Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, of the University of Hong Kong's department of social work and social administration, said the response rate should be higher this year as people were allowed to respond to census online, which was more convenient.

'The non-response rate this year was non-insignificant. But these households could have some profiles which are quite different from the general situation that we cannot capture,' he said.

The department said of the 2.1 million households provided the required census information, 1.1 million replied via postal mail and 300,000 responded online.

Failure to respond to census questions is liable to a fine of HK$2,000. Residents reporting untrue information would be fined HK$5,000 and jailed for six months. But the spokeswoman said the department wanted to first encourage the remaining households to respond to census questionnaire.

As of yesterday, there were 48 incidents related to census officers. These included 18 dog incidents, two indecent assault cases and one criminal intimidation.

The department spent HK$520 million for the 34-day census and hired 18,300 temporary census takers.

A telephone enquiry centre for this year's census has handled more than 160,000 public enquiries since late June.

The capturing and processing of census information is now under way. The department will contact individual households on or before August 15 for verification of information. All completed questionnaires will be destroyed within 12 months.