The Christchurch earthquake – from a Census perspective…

Nenad - Team Forecast

Nenad has a background in geosciences and geographic information systems (GIS) in New Zealand local government. He has utilised NZ census statistics and geodemographic information for a variety of purposes in his previous roles including emergency management and urban design. Nenad works as a population forecaster at .id and enjoys the variety of Australian landscapes and urban environments he sees through work on a daily basis. He enjoys showing people the benefits and power of using demographic information to make informed decisions, especially when coupled with GIS.

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7 Responses

  1. Ivan says:

    Nenad, thanks for the excellent blog. I totally agree with your comment countering the Minister’s argument that conducting a Census at this time would produce a ‘distorted’ result not presenting ‘normality’. The power of the census is precisely that it produces a snapshot at a point in time. As you alluded to, if the New Zealand census was conducted sooner than later, sophisticated census users would gain significant insights into the impacts and effects of such a disaster – not only in terms of base line from which to rebuild Christchurch, but in terms of broader economic impacts. I therefore also agree that we will now miss out on gaining insights into the current status of the New Zealand economy, but I think you have understated the importance of Census data to economists. Economists completely rely on Census Journey to Work data (employment by industry etc.) to provide them with an update of the structural changes in the economy. Ironically, in the next few years the politicians will be asking questions of their bureaucrats and consultants about the economy that they may not be able to adequately answer due to a lack of base line data.

  2. Nenad says:

    Thanks Ivan. Normality could even be considered pre-Global Financial Crisis (GFC). I was part of a Stats NZ ‘Census 2011 Advisory Group’ last year (mainly from a GIS/spatial analysis perspective) and as many other countries around the world are moving away from a more frequent to less frequent census we discussed what we’d be missing out on if NZ decides to move to a decennial census. Capturing the effect of the GFC on the NZ economy came to mind. At the time, the census would have been timed just right to capture the first steps out of a recession for New Zealand and allow for benchmarking later on so from a statistics perspective. Now it could be missed and dissolved completely in the period from 2016 to whenever the next census is likely to happen.

    • Nenad says:

      sorry that should read “in the period from 2006 to whenever the next census is likely to happen.”

  3. Robin Spragg says:

    If I may deviate from the main issue, I was sorry to hear that NZ like Australia only measures work travel and not all the other travel purposes. This is extremely annoying for Census users who live in a region (northern NSW) where work travel is a minor activity compared to leisure and personal business.
    I found the article very interesting; was there any consideration that Canterbury might be excised to allow the Census to go ahead in the rest of the country?

    • Simone says:

      Hi Robin,

      You might be interested in the VISTA survey which is conducted by the Victorian Dept of Transport. Certainly the coverage is not as comprehensive as the Census, but it does have information on travel for other purposes.

      I’ve pasted the URL here for your convenience.

      http://www.transport.vic.gov.au/vista

  4. Nenad says:

    Hello Robin,

    Thanks for your comments. Yes I can see how both travel to work and “main modes of transport” for other purposes can be used together for planning and identifying trends for transport strategy development. In my previous job, we used Census ‘travel to work’ information to help formulate a “Walking Strategy” which aimed to identify people in Wellington, NZ who could walk as a main means of transport to their usual activities (Wellington is quite a compact though hilly city and very walkable – http://blog2.id.com.au/2011/demographics/thumbs-up-for-wellington-where-the-people-are-young-smart-healthy-and-green/ ) but are not doing so at the moment. The limitations of using the work travel-only data was that we were not representing the entire population’s travel behaviour so had to engage in some surveying of residents etc.

    Regarding the 2011 NZ Census – since writing this blog entry, there have been a couple of media releases from Statistics NZ indicating that alternative Census 2011 options were being discussed, this one being the latest (http://www.stats.govt.nz/tools_and_services/services/media-centre/earthquake-related%20info/media-advisory-21-mar-11.aspx). I don’t think that a Census excluding Christchurch and other parts of the affected Canterbuty region would happen and might be an all or nothing approach.

  5. Nenad says:

    Just an update on the population decline in Christchurch:

    “Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) today released its subnational population estimates showing the number of people in Christchurch falling by 4600 in the year to June 2012.

    The decrease in Christchurch’s population over the past year was due to net migration, though it was slightly offset by more births than deaths.

    When comparing the latest figures with the pre-earthquake population of 376,700 in the year to June 2010, there were 13,500 less people in Christchurch since the September 2010 earthquake.”

    source: Fairfax NZ News

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