Use of administrative data to impute non-responding households in areas with low response rates for the 2021 Census

Notwithstanding a very successful response rate of 98% for the 2021 Census, there remain localized areas of the country with lower-than-planned response rates, due to wildfires, COVID and other factors. The dwellings in these areas represent 0.08% of all occupied dwellings in Canada.

Efforts to produce high-quality Census data do not end in the field. Our efforts continue during data processing until we have an accurate picture that reflects all the people of Canada. To produce the best possible information for lower levels of geography, Statistics Canada is drawing on administrative data to support imputation for areas and households where it is deemed appropriate. Nothing substitutes for the voice of Canadians, but administrative data help us ensure every Canadian is included in the portrait of our country produced by the census.

Imputation is an internationally-recognized technique used by many statistical agencies to assign a value to missing information in surveys. Statistics Canada research over the past several years has shown that using administrative data to support imputation can improve the quality of data in some circumstances. Statistics Canada has been drawing on administrative data for many years to supplement missing content to ensure the high quality that Canadians expect of the census. For example, when the city of Fort McMurray was evacuated due to a wildfire during the 2016 Census, Statistics Canada used administrative data to complete the census in the city and surrounding region.

Administrative data will be used for the 2021 Census, during data processing, to impute (assign values to missing data) non-responding households in areas with low response rates, and where the administrative data are of sufficient quality to generate reliable population counts. The administrative data used for imputation of non-responding households are data already provided to the government and meet the highest quality, privacy, security, and confidentiality standards. Learn more about administrative data.

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