Census will ask about religion and illness but not about HIV/Aids

POSTED: 03/27/11 8:08 PM

Get ready for April: 89 questions in 45 minutes

St. Maarten – The questionnaire census takers will use during the upcoming 2011 census in April contains 89 questions in all: 54 about personal issues and an additional 35 about living accommodation. At this newspaper’s request, the department of statistics STAT released a copy of the questions yesterday.

Most of the personal information the census takers will ask during an interview that will take up approximately 45 minutes, are pretty standard. Age, date of birth, place of birth, sex, background information about parents and nationality are among them. The question about religion offers eleven options: Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Protestant, Adventist, Methodist, Hinduism, Judaism, Anglican, Evangelical, Islam and Jehovah’s Witness. There is also a box for other religions.

Among the questions about health is one about smoking, one about mental or physical disabilities, and one about eleven different illnesses, though HIV/Aids is painfully missing from this list.

Other questions refer to education, employment, and economic position. To determine income levels, the census taker will show a card and the interviewee will have to make a choice.

One interesting question concerns the means of transportation; in one category it is about how people go to school (by car, bicycle, walking, public transportation and six other options), and one is about how they go to work.

The questionnaire about living accommodation aims to establish how our citizens live – from the number of bedrooms and the amount of square meters, to the number of toilets and the type of roof. There are also questions about water supply, energy, ownership and the period when the house was built.

Then there is a question about the language spoken at home, about amenities (from phones and computers, to internet connections, washing machines and televisions), and about the number of cars, motor bikes and company cars in the household.

Question 26 is intriguing, because it asks people about sources of discomfort in their immediate vicinity – from car wrecks and air pollution, to noise, mosquitoes and drug addicts.

The information gathered during the census is not linked to individual citizens. The data is useful for the government to fine-tune its actions to the needs of its citizens.

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