After an eleven-year break, a nationwide referendum has been running again since mid-May. Volunteers also go from house to house in Berlin and Brandenburg to go through the questionnaire with the residents. Participation is mandatory, if you refuse, there is a risk of a fine: 700,000 people in the region have to provide the joint statistical office for the 2022 census with information about their housing and living situation, 300,000 of them in the capital.
Each of the randomly selected citizens can see the questions set by the EU before the written interview. The answers are intended to provide administrations with a better basis for making decisions when it comes to planning schools and daycare centers or the layout of constituencies.
In addition, all buildings with living space are counted in an online process. Here, owners must provide information after a written request without personal contact, including questions about heating and possible vacancies.
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“Fresh air and real encounters again” – this is how the state office advertises in image clips for help in collecting the data. The main part of the census is carried out by so-called survey officers who write to randomly selected people to arrange appointments and visit them personally by the end of August. The helpers can expect a maximum of 1,000 euros in compensation for this activity. Around 2,000 are on the move in Berlin and 3,000 in Brandenburg.
After a one-day training course and a signed declaration of confidentiality, interviewers receive “work packages from around 150 respondents,” writes Janin Rynski, who is in charge of the project as a consultant. Depending on the area of application, the addresses can be spread over a large block of flats or many individual single-family houses.
In several areas of Berlin and several districts of Brandenburg, the authority still lacks volunteers. Among others in the Märkisches Viertel and Wittenau (Reinickendorf), Mitte, Neukölln and Marzahn. In Brandenburg in the districts of Dahme-Spreewald, Oder-Spree, Potsdam-Mittelmark, Spree-Neisse, Teltow-Fläming and Uckermark.
Between five and ten minutes should be allowed for the interview with questions about the household. It is sufficient if one person is present for each household. A second part of the survey with questions about employment and the level of education takes place online, for which access data is handed over after the interview.
Interviewers must announce themselves in writing and identify themselves without being asked. No questions will be asked about income, religion or vaccination status. The calls can also be held at the front door or in the hallway.
The results should be available towards the end of next year. The Senate Department for Urban Development expects a high added value from the data from the census of buildings and apartments, as spokesman Martin Pallgen writes. The information on vacancies, household composition and apartment occupancy could influence planning tasks. However, the census is not a temporary alternative to the rent index that appears every two years, as essential features are missing. It should be interesting for all administrations to see how closely the data from the census match the Berlin population register.