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Working group in the 5th appointment period (2014–2017)

The German Data Forum’s (RatSWD) central recommendations for the Census 2021 are to optimise its central data sources as well as ensuring that population registers are complete and up-to-date. To safeguard quality assurance of registers, the RatSWD recommends setting up a commission with representatives of official statistics agencies, data protection and research. There has been a lack of research on methods and quality assurance, which is essential for developing future censuses. There is a demand for collection and storage of process data as well as legally regulated access to existing process data for science and research. The RatSWD is in favour of enshrining into law independent, quality-assuring and methodological research to accompany the census. This is key to identifying and evaluating the effects of methodical decisions for the survey’s results.

Since fundamental decisions for the 2021 census have already been made, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) now aims at developing concepts for the future. This should include a methodology package that facilitates the annual provision of high-quality population data, which the European Commission has planned as of 2024, and that can serve as a key component for future population censuses as of 2031. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) therefore recommends setting up an international working group with representatives of official statistics agencies and research.

RatSWD activities on the 2021 census in the 5th appointment period:

Jun 2015
Moderation of the session “The Census 2011 and its results” and the presentation “The Census 2011 from the science perspective” at an expert meeting of the Federal Statistical Office in 2011

Dec 2015 
Recommendations for the “External evaluation of the Census 2011” (Commissioned by the BMI Federal Ministry of the Interior, rapporteur: Wolfgang Hannappel) with a focus on: optimising registers for official statistics purposes; concept for quality evaluation of the 2021 census; independent, quality-assuring and scientific accompanying research

Apr 2016
Publication of recommendations for the 2021 census and future censuses (RatSWD Output 2) distribution of the publication to relevant stakeholders

Jun 2016
Press release “The next Census is only 5 years away: Germany still has catching up to do”; presentation of the report on the 2021 census to Klaus Vitt, state secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI), on 20 June 2016 in Berlin

Jul 2016
Statement on the BMI draft for the 2021 Census Preparation Act with two central recommendations: 1. Scientific monitoring and evaluation for quality assurance, and development of an address-based control register; 2. Documentation of data-changing procedures, provision of data as well as the control register for scientific analysis

Nov 2016
Assessment of the RatSWD of the Bundesrat’s statement on the government bill for the 2021 Census Preparation Act

Feb 2017
Panel debate with representatives from policy and research on the future development of the census at the 7th Conference for Social and Economic Data (7|KSWD)

Working group members


  • Prof. Dr. Ulrike Rockmann
    German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)


  • Hartmut Bömermann
    Statistical Office for Berlin-Brandenburg
  • Stefan Dittrich
    Federal Statistical Office
  • Prof. Dr. Manfred Ehling
    Federal Statistical Office, member of the German Data Forum
  • Helmut Eppmann
    Statistical Office North (Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein)
  • Heike Habla
    Federal Statistical Office
  • Prof. Dr. Frauke Kreuter
    University of Mannheim
  • Prof. Dr. Susanne Rässler
    University of Bamberg
  • Prof. Regina T. Riphahn, Ph.D.,
    Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, chair of the German Data Forum
  • Rolf Schmidt
  • Prof. Dr. Gert G. Wagner
    German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), member of the German Data Forum
  • Gerhard Winck
    Statistical Office North (Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein)
  • Dr. Heike Wirth
    GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, member of the German Data Forum


  • Peter Büttgen
    Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information