If you’re a history nerd like me, you’ll probably love censuses. If you’re a normal person, you’ll probably think of them as nothing more than another piece of admin. But the census is an important way for the island to gain insight into the changing population. Think about all the ways the island has transformed over the last ten years: the businesses and sectors that have emerged, the demographic changes, the new job opportunities. Imagine telling someone you had a job in social media 10 years ago? They’d probably think that you sat on Farmville all day. Isn’t it fun to reflect?

So, what exactly is a census?

Often described as a ‘snapshot’, the census is a means of recording the population, and all the demographic information about the island’s population. It notes information such as age, race, and occupation.This year there are some fresh new questions that will demonstrate the diversity of the island: including questions about the primary language used in the home and religious beliefs (or lack thereof). There will also be optional questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. People over the age of 18 can request an individual census form, if they wish to complete the from separately from the rest of the household. 

Is it just for history nerds?

While historians do love reading censuses to understand the specific conditions of a period of time, that’s not the primary purpose of them. The census gives a pretty accurate picture of the population to the government, allowing them to respond to the needs of the community. This information is used to plan the needs of the population, and assess which services need prioritising. This might sound boring, but it’s a means to assure that we have our resources allocated correctly.

When is the Isle of Man Census happening?

Sunday 30th May.

How do I fill it out?

This year’s census is ‘digital by default’ – so ideally, online. You’ll be sent a letter explaining everything you need to know, including a unique access code which will allow you to complete the census online. You can also request an alternative means of completion from the Census Office.

How long has the census been about?

On-island, there have been censuses undertaken since 1821 – which means 2021 is the 200th year of censuses in the Isle of Man! However, they are an ancient way of measuring the population – remember when Mother Mary headed off to get counted in Bethlehem and then had the little baby Jesus? She was off to get counted. 

How often do we have censuses?

There’s been a census every 10 years since 1841, with interim Censuses being introduced in 1996. 

Do I have to do it?

If I haven’t convinced you that the census is really exciting, you’ll still have to suck it up and do it. Failure to do so could result in a cheeky fine. If it seems like a pain, at least you don’t have to travel on a donkey while heavily pregnant just in order to be counted…

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