What is a Census?

Censuses of Population are conducted regularly across countries in the world. The Census counts the number of inhabitants in the country and provides a statistical profile of the population and households.

In Singapore, the Census is conducted once in every ten years.

Significance and Objectives of the Census

The Census is the most comprehensive source of information on population and household. It provides benchmark data for other demographic, economic and social statistics. The large sample size and coverage of the Census facilitate analyses on different population groups and studies by geographical area. As a result, data from the Census are key inputs for policy review and formulation and the Census is considered an exercise of national importance.

Census 2020 - How is it Conducted?

The Census 2020 adopts a register-based approach, similar to the previous two Censuses conducted in 2000 and 2010. Basic population count and characteristics such as age, sex and ethnicity are compiled from administrative sources.

For more detailed socio-economic and household characteristics, a sample enumeration of some 150,000 households is conducted to obtain information that is not available from such administrative sources. Households selected for the sample enumeration were informed by post.

For the Census to accurately reflect the profile of Singapore, the participation and co-operation of all respondents is critical.

Respondents selected for the sample enumeration could submit their Census returns through the Internet, over telephone interviews or arrange for interviewers to visit and assist them with the survey through face-to-face interviews.

Please note that the Census 2020 survey has ended. Detailed Census 2020 statistical releases are expected to be released progressively from first half of 2021. More updates on the statistical releases will be available at our website at www.singstat.gov.sg nearer the release date.


What is the Census 2020 for?

Information from the Censuses illustrates how Singapore’s population changes over time. The data collected and tabulated from censuses are essential to meet the planning needs of Government Ministries, Departments and the private sector organisations.

The following table provides an indication of the data items that are collected in the Census 2020 and their possible usage.

Main Data Items
Demographic and Social Data

Basic demographic profile of the population is used to monitor population changes through the years. Some examples:

  1. The age breakdown will indicate how fast the population is aging, enabling organizations to provide for appropriate facilities.
  2. Household composition shows household living arrangements, changes in formation of households, prevalence of persons living alone etc.
Household Composition
Number of Children Born
Studies on the effects of delayed marriage and childbearing on population growth.
Main Data Items
Economic and Employment Data
Current Activity Status

This is used to provide numerous indicators on Singapore’s labour force and employment opportunities. Some examples of use:

  1. A combination of age, education, income, industry and occupation tabulations provide in-depth study of the labour market demand and supply.
  2. Profile of full-time and part-time workers.
  3. Profile of the unemployed.
Nature of Employment (Full-time / Part-time / Serving National Service)
Workplace Location
Usual Number of Hours Worked Per Week
Monthly Income from Work and Bonuses
Action Taken to Look for Work
Main Reason for Not Working
Main Data Items
Education Data
Level of Formal Education Attending

It is a useful gauge on the type of new entrants to the workforce. Some examples are:

  1. To estimate the supply of potential manpower.
  2. The education by age and by sex data will provide an indication of how fast Singapore’s education profile is improving.

Data on education and skills groupings are tabulated with many different types of data including occupation and income for more detailed profile of the population / workforce.

Highest Qualification Attained
Major Field of Study
Main Data Items
Transportation Data
Usual Mode of Transport to School / Work This is used to study the change in transport mode and transportation network for planning transport system for the population.
Usual Time Take to Travel to School / Work
Main Data Items
Difficulty in Performing Basic Activities
Difficulty in Seeing, Hearing, Body Movement activities, Remembering / Concentration, Self-care activities and Communicating This is used to gauge the prevalence of difficulty in performing basic activities among the population and to plan for support services needed by different groups of people with such difficulties.
Main Data Items
Housing Data
Tenancy of Dwelling This is used to study profile of house / flat owners and tenants. The data are often crossed tabulated with households and geographical location data fields to provide further analysis by urban planners.