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The aim of conducting population censuses/by-censuses is to obtain up-to-date benchmark information on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the population of Hong Kong and on its geographical distribution.

Such information is vital to the Government for planning and policy formulation, and the private sector and academia for business and research purposes.

Overall Design

In the 2021 Population Census, about nine-tenths of the households were subject to simple enumeration to provide basic demographic information of their household members, while the remaining one-tenth of the households were subject to more detailed enquiry on a broad range of demographic and socio-economic characteristics of their household members.

(Simple enumeration covers only some basic questions. On the other hand, more detailed enquiry includes not only those questions covered in the simple enumeration, but also additional ones related to the socio-economic characteristics of the population and the characteristics of households and quarters. Taking together the common information collected in both the simple enumeration and more detailed enquiry will give the complete enumeration results on the basic characteristics of the population. It will also form the basis for estimation of the detailed socio-economic characteristics collected through the more detailed enquiry.)

Data Topic

The data topics for the 2021 Population Census cover 6 aspects, including (i) demographic and social characteristics (e.g. year and month of birth and sex), (ii) educational characteristics (e.g. educational attainment and field of education), (iii) internal migration characteristics (e.g. place of residence 5 years ago), (iv) economic characteristics (e.g. income and hours of work), (v) housing characteristics (e.g. floor area of accommodation, rent and mortgage payment or loan payment) and (vi) household characteristics (e.g. relationship to head of household).

The 46 data topics for the 2021 Population Census are listed below:

    Demographic and social characteristics

  1. Year and month of birth
  2. Sex
  3. Marital status
  4. Usual spoken language
  5. Ability to speak other languages/dialects
  6. Ability to read/write languages
  7. Nationality
  8. Ethnicity
  9. Place of birth
  10. Elderly persons requiring care
  11. Educational characteristics

  12. School attendance
  13. Educational attainment (highest level attended)
  14. Educational attainment (highest level completed)
  15. Field of education
  16. Place of study
  17. Mode of transport to place of study
  18. Internal migration characteristics

  19. Whereabouts at census reference moment
  20. Duration of residence in Hong Kong
  21. Place of residence 5 years ago
  22. Economic characteristics

  23. Economic activity status
  24. Industry
  25. Occupation
  26. Whether having secondary employment
  27. Earnings from main employment
  28. Earnings from other employment
  29. Other cash income (including cash income from rent)
  30. Hours of work
  31. Place of work
  32. Mode of transport to place of work
  33. Housing characteristics

  34. Type of quarters
  35. Type of accommodation
  36. Whether the quarters is used as usual or occasional residence
  37. Whether the quarters is a subdivided unit
  38. Number of rooms in the residence (including living or dining rooms, kitchens, bathrooms or toilets, bedrooms, other rooms, cocklofts and bedspaces)
  39. Floor area of accommodation
  40. No. of households in quarters (derived)
  41. No. of occupants in quarters (derived)
  42. Tenure of accommodation
  43. Rent (including rates, government rent and management fees)
  44. Mortgage payment or loan payment
  45. Household characteristics

  46. Type of household
  47. Relationship to head of household
  48. Whether a member of household
  49. Household size (derived)
  50. Household composition (derived)
  51. Household income (derived)


The 2021 Population Census was conducted from 23 June to 4 August 2021.

Data Collection Method

The 2021 Population Census adopted a multi-modal data collection approach which was conducted in two phases.

First phase: starting on 23 June
All households received a Population Census notification letter before end June 2021. Households could provide data through the following means:

  1. Complete online questionnaire
  2. Conduct telephone interview (census hotline at 18 2021)
  3. Mail back completed questionnaire (applicable to households receiving paper questionnaire)

Second phase: starting on 18 July
Census officers visited households that had not yet completed the questionnaire so as to assist them in providing the required information. Census officers carried a Census Officer Certificate of Identity for respondents’ checking. To reduce face-to-face contact and maintain social distance, households were cordially invited to provide the required information by online or paper questionnaire or via telephone means.

Population Coverage

The 2021 Population Census covers all persons within the definition of the Hong Kong Resident Population under the “resident population” approach.

The “resident population” approach has been adopted to compile the population estimates of Hong Kong since August 2000, so as to take account of the changing residency and mobility patterns of the Hong Kong population.


Since 1961, a population census has been conducted in Hong Kong every ten years and a by-census in the middle of the intercensal period.

Population censuses were conducted in 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001, 2011 and 2021 while population by-censuses in 1966, 1976, 1986, 1996, 2006 and 2016.

If you would like to have more information about the past population censuses / by-censuses, please visit the following web pages: