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UN census ‘households’ and local interpretations in Africa since Independence

Randall, Sara, Coast, Ernestina ORCID: 0000-0002-8703-307X, Antoine, Philippe, Compaore, Natacha, Dial, Fatou-Binetou, Fanghanel, Alexandra, Gning, Sadio Ba, Thiombiano, Bilampoa Gnoumou, Golaz, Valerie and Wandera, Stephen Ojiambo (2015) UN census ‘households’ and local interpretations in Africa since Independence. SAGE Open, 5 (2). pp. 1-18. ISSN 2158-2440

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Identification Number: 10.1177/2158244015589353


Since the 1950s the UN Statistical Division has encouraged nations to standardise the definitions used in data collection. A key concept in censuses and surveys is the household: this is the unit for which information is collected and analysed, and is thus an important dimension of data which are the basis for many policies. We aim to understand the tensions between conformity with UN guidelines and national priorities. We analyse the documentation around the UN household definition over this period. Using detailed census and survey documentary data for several African countries, especially Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda and Tanzania, we examine the disparities between national census definitions of ‘household’ and the UN definition. Perspectives from interviews with key informants within national statistical offices demonstrate the variability in the importance accorded to the UN harmonisation aims and the problems which arise when these standardised approaches interact with local norms and living arrangements.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Authors © CC BY 3.0
Divisions: Social Policy
LSE Health
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2015 14:19
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2024 05:39
Projects: RES-175-25-0012, RES 062-33-0007, ANR-09-FRBR-016
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council (UK), ANR (France)

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