The new French census and its impact on mobility studies

Using census data to measure mobility and second home ownership
By Jean-Louis Pan Ké Shon, Catriona Dutreuilh


In France, the transition from the traditional census to the “new census” has answered certain needs while raising a number of concerns. INSEE has devised an original methodology based on the aggregation of five annual census surveys to produce this so-called “new census”. Once the first five-year cycle has been completed, data from the most recent annual survey will be added and those of the oldest year removed so that a complete cycle is obtained on a rolling basis each year. This radically new approach is attracting the attention of demographers, statisticians and geographers beyond the frontiers of France. The advantages of an annual census and its large body of data are countered, however, by the drawbacks of desynchronized data collection, the loss of exhaustiveness and the absence of spatial data at highly localized levels. The new census is assessed here primarily from the viewpoint of residential mobility. After a presentation of its complex methodology, its potential advantages and drawbacks are reviewed in detail. Last, the forseeable impact on the permanent demographic sample, a rich longitudinal body of data based on the census, is assessed.

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