Much of the groundwork for the census after 2021 is currently being laid out. During its 51st meeting on 28 February and 1 March 2019, the German Data Forum invited Prof. Dr. Ralf Münnich (University of Trier), a distinguished expert on census methodology, to discuss the further development of the German census. It is the German Data Forum’s view that there is much more preliminary work necessary in order to be able to conduct the first register-based census, as envisioned by policy makers. Much of this work centres on quality assurance of the respective population registers. Standardised resident registers and data cleansing are of key importance in this context.
The German Data Forum published comprehensive recommendations (German) on updating resident registers as early as 2016. It later underscored the importance of modernising registers and making register data available to researchers, putting forward the view that the latter are well-equipped to evaluate register data quality and identify potential improvements. Systematically integrating researchers into the census collection process ensures that the census data, which are costly to collect, can be later used to answer socially relevant research questions. The scientific community should identify its requirements early on and approach legislators with a unified voice.
Complementing the census debate, the RatSWD assessed the current state of affairs regarding the establishment of a federal education register. Its members agreed to actively pursue the issue and closely monitor ongoing debates within the scientific community.
Moreover, the German Data Forum approved the registration of the Akademie für Soziologie, a German sociological association, as an academic organisation eligible to submit proposals for the election of the German Data Forum’s scientific members. Following this latest addition, the German Data Forum is now supported by 14 academic organisations. The next RatSWD election will take place in February/March 2020.
The German Data Forum’s next meeting will take place on 6/7 June 2019 in Berlin.