Each Question in detail

Question 1: What is your name?

Your name is asked in order to make sure that everyone in the household is included and to assist the householder in ensuring that the correct personal information for each individual is recorded. The name also helps identify where forms are missing or duplicated. Names are also used to assist in the identification of family groups within households.

In Census 2016, individual forenames and surnames on the census forms will for the first time be captured as part of the data capture and processing. In common with all other data provided to the CSO, this data will be kept confidential and be used only for statistical purposes.

Question 2: Sex?

Almost all information collected on the census form is analysed by age and sex.

2011 Census

Males Females Total
2,272,699 2,315,553 4,588,252

Question 3: What is your date of birth?

Date of birth is used to calculate age which is then analysed against all other social, economic and demographic variables on the census form. Analysis of the age profile of the population is used to target the delivery of health, education, social welfare, housing and other community services.

Year Average Age (years)
1991 33.0
1996 34.1
2002 35.1
2006 35.6
2011 36.1

Question 4: What is your relationship to other persons in the household?

The responses to question 4 allow for the formation of family units within households, which is used to understand the social and living patterns within Ireland. Analysis of the data is essential in planning housing and social welfare programmes. The multiple categories of relationship enables families in multi-generational households, skip-generation households and families which have been reconstituted following the break-up of previous marriages, all to be determined.

Private households by composition 2006 2011 Change
Thousands %
One person 329.5 392.0 19.0
Couple 269.5 313.3 16.3
Couple with children 517.3 577.9 11.7
Lone parent with children 152.5 179.8 17.9
Couple with other persons 23.9 21.7 -9.2
Couple with children and other persons 31.7 30.5 -4.1
Lone parent with children and other persons 17.2 18.2 5.8
Two or more family units 20.3 18.8 -8.4
Year Average size of household


1991 3.34
1996 3.14
2002 2.94
2006 2.81
2011 2.73

Question 5: What is your current marital status?

This question has been updated from 2011 to take account of the availability of civil partnerships in Ireland .Those in same sex civil partnerships should select category 4.

Under the Marriage Act 2015 the previous prohibition on same sex couples being allowed to marry was removed, thus making same-sex marriage legal in Ireland.  Persons in same-sex marriages should tick ‘married’ on the census form.

This question should only be answered by those aged 15 or over.

Population by marital status, 2011
Single 2,484,625
Married of which 1,708,604
First marriage 1,655,906
Remarried following widowhood 9,738
Remarried following dissolution of previous marriage 42,960
Separated 116,194
Divorced 87,770
Widowed 191,059
Total 4,588,252

Question 6: What is your place of birth?

Data on the place of birth of the population is used to understand patterns in long and short-term migration and the characteristics of migrants in terms of age, sex, education, occupation, etc.

Usually resident population by place of birth, 2006-2011

Place of birth 2006 2011
County of usual residence 64.96 62.44
Other county 20.36 20.62
Northern Ireland 1.20 1.29
Great Britain 5.31 5.09
Other EU 4.00 5.90
USA 0.60 0.61
Other countries 3.57 4.05
Total 100.0 100.0

Question 7: Where do you usually live?

The key strength of census data is the ability to analyse all the results at small geographic level; the answers to question 7 are essential to this. Those people who are not at home on census night are asked to provide the full address of their usual residence which allows an accurate profile of the usually resident population to be built up. Population by age, sex and regional authority area is the basis for the annual population estimates and for the population projections. The results are also used to determine changes to electoral boundaries.

Question 8: Where did you usually live one year ago?

By comparing where people lived one year before the census with where they live at census time we get an accurate picture of internal and external migration within the previous year. Further analysis by nationality, place of birth, age and sex provides essential data used to understand migration patterns.

Question 9: Have you lived outside the Republic of Ireland for a continuous period of one year or more?

The information collected in this question is used to establish migration patterns, which, combined with nationality, sex, age and economic status, provides a detailed picture of who immigrated to Ireland by year of arrival since the last census and their reasons for doing so.

Question 10: What is your nationality?

Nationality is now a key demographic variable on the census and is analysed in conjunction with age, sex and economic status to provide invaluable information on the profile of the population at small area level. The information is used by a broad spectrum of local, community and government based organisations.

Question 11: What is your ethnic or cultural background?

Ethnicity is listed as one of the nine grounds for discrimination under equality legislation in Ireland. The information on ethnicity gathered in this question enables an analysis of the population by social and living conditions, employment, occupation, education and a whole range of other social and demographic variables.

Usual residents by ethnic or cultural background, 2011 %
White Irish 84.46
Irish Traveller 0.65
Any other white background 9.13
African 1.30
Any other black background 0.14
Chinese 0.39
Any other Asian background 1.48
Other 0.90
Not stated 1.55
Total 100.00

Question 12: What is your religion?

Everyone should answer this question, whether or not they have a religion.

This question is not about frequency of attendance at church or other place of worship. People should answer the question based on how they feel now about their religious beliefs, if any. The question is asking about the person’s current religion or beliefs and not about the religion the person may have been brought up with.

If the person has a religion they can identify that religion by ticking one of the tick box categories, or by writing in a description of your religion or beliefs in the write-in boxes.

If they do not have a religion – they should go to the end of the question and mark the ‘no religion’ box.

Population classified by religion, 2011 Thousands
Roman Catholic 3,861.3
Church of Ireland 134.4
Muslim (Islamic) 49.2
Presbyterian 24.6
Orthodox 45.2
Other religions 130.8
No religion 269.8
Not stated 72.9
Total 4,588.2

Question 13: How many children have you given birth to?

The answers to question 13 allow an assessment to be made of the factors impacting the fertility rate of women in Ireland, i.e. the extent to which fertility will vary with educational attainment, labour market status etc.

Question 14: Can you speak Irish?

Question 14 will provide information to help in the monitoring of the development of the Irish language. In particular, the results will enable policy planners to assess how language proficiency and usage, in daily life and less frequently, varies with age and education participation. The usage of the language will be assessed by social
class, level of education, and area, Gaeltacht or otherwise.

Irish speakers and non-Irish speakers 1996-2011

1996 2002 2006 2011
Irish speakers 1,430.2 1,570.9 1,656.8 1,774.4
Non-Irish speakers 2,049.4 2,180.1 2,400.9 2,507.3
Total 3,479.6 3,751.0 4,057.7 4,281.7

Question 15: Do you speak a language other than English or Irish at home?

Number of people speaking language other than Irish/English at home {2011}

Irish nationals 145,919
Non-Irish nationals 363,929
Total 509,848

This is just the second time this question is being asked (2011 being the first time). It provides an important measure of integration and data on who speaks a language other than English or Irish at home. This will be analysed against other factors that indicate broader participation in society (at work, in education etc.). It will also provide information on how well English is spoken by people who have a language other than English as their mother tongue. The information will be available for all age groups including school children and can be used to target state resources in areas such as education and health to support people who may struggle speaking English.

Question 16: Do you have any of the following long-lasting conditions or difficulties?

The results of questions 16 and 17 coupled with other questions will provide important data on the number of people whose activities are reduced because of a disability and the effect of the disability on their lives.

Question 17: If you answered ‘Yes’ to question 16, do you have any difficulty in doing any of the following?

The results of questions 16 and 17 coupled with other questions will provide important data on the number of people whose activities are reduced because of a disability and the effect of the disability on their lives.

Question 18: How is your health in general?

This question was asked for the first time in 2011. Studies show strong links between how people view their health and the actual state of their health. The answers to this question will provide a country-wide picture of people’s health and how it is related to various factors such as age, labour market position and educational attainment.

Question 19: How do you usually travel to work, school or college?
Question 20: What time do you usually leave home to go to work, school or college?
Question 21: How long does your journey to work, school or college usually take?

The answers to questions 19, 20 and 21 on means of travel, time of leaving home, and duration of journey, will be analysed in conjunction with the address where people work or go to school/college. The results will provide valuable information on commuting patterns for planning public transport services and infrastructure. Usual means of travel will identify the different modes of transport used by commuters. Time of leaving home will provide information on the volume of commuter travel by transport type at different times of the day. Usual
travel time will give information on the efficiency of various modes of transport.

Means of travel to work, school or college 2006- 2011 2006 2011
On foot 15.5 14.9
Bicycle 1.9 2.2
Bus 11.7 10.3
Train 2.6 2.5
Motor cycle .5 0.3
Car driver 40 40.4
Car passenger 16.4 18.2
Other (incl. Lorry/van) 5.4 4.8
Work mainly at home 4.3 3.2
Not stated 1.7 3.2
Total 100.0 100.0

Question 22: Do you provide regular unpaid personal help for a friend or family member with a long-term illness, health problem or disability?

The results of question 22 will facilitate assessment of the extent to which unpaid personal help is provided by carers in our society, along with the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the carers themselves. Carers in receipt of carer’s allowance or benefit will be included as unpaid carers.

Question 23: If you are aged under 15 go to Question 34.

Children are not required to answer the questions on education and work. They are directed to the question on name and address of school.

Question 24: Have you ceased your full-time education?

The replies to questions 24 and 25 will be used to monitor the impact of education policies, changing skill levels and the extent to which people use their formal qualifications.

Question 25: What is the highest level of education/training (full-time or part-time) which you have completed to date?

Regular information on skills levels is necessary to monitor whether training being offered meets the needs of the labour market. The government and employers use this data to evaluate whether there are enough people with the required education and training in particular areas of the work force. The information is used in developing new programmes to meet the changing needs of the work force.

For more information on international educational qualifications please click here

FETAC and HETAC have been dissolved. Please see here for information on Quality and Qualifications Ireland, which has assumed their functions.

Highest level of education completed by those who have completed their education 2006-2011 2006 2011
Primary (incl no formal education) 514.1 456.9
Lower secondary 573.4 499.5
Upper secondary 803.5 1032.1
3rd level


301.3 135.1
Degree or higher 527.8 740.0
Not stated 130.2 139.9
Still at school/college 349.6 605.2
Total 3199.9 3608.7

Question 26: What is the main field of study of the highest qualification you have completed to date?

This is just the second time that all persons are being asked about the field of study of their highest qualification. The results will provide a detailed picture of the skills and qualifications of the entire population which is necessary to monitor whether training being offered meets the needs of the labour market. The government and employers will use this data to evaluate skills shortages in the work force and to identify availably resources of readily trained people.

Question 27: How would you describe your present principal status?

Question 27 is the basis of all economic analysis available from the census as it categorises everybody according to their principal economic status. The results provide detailed data on levels of unemployment at small area level and allows the classification of all persons aged 15 years and over into those within and outside the labour force.

Population aged 15 years and over by principal economic status 2006-2011 2006 2011
At work 1930.0 1807.4
Looking for first regular job 29.4 34.2
Unemployed 150.1 390.7
Total labour force 2,109.5 2,232.3
Student 349.6 408.8
Looking after home/family 387.0 339.9
Other 529.3 627.7
Total non labour force 1265.9 1376.4

Question 28: If you are working, unemployed or retired go to Question 29.

If you are a student go to Question 34

Otherwise go to Question 35.

Only those persons who are working are required to provide information on their industry and occupation and place of work. Retired persons are asked about their former occupation only in order to assign a social class to their household. Unemployed persons are asked about their occupation and industry in order to produce a detailed profile of the unemployed at small area level. Only persons who travel outside the home to work school or college are asked to provide the name and address of where they go.

Question 29: Do (did) you work as an employee or are (were) you self-employed in your main job?

Question 29 is used to assign social class to all at work – now or formerly. Social class is a key economic variable and is used in the analysis of many other variables on the census form such as disability, marital breakdown, area, education, among others.

Employment status of persons at work 2006-2011 2006 – 2011
Employer / own account worker 308.2 306.3
Employee 1616.3 1495.2
Assisting relative 5.5 5.9
Total 1930.0 1807.4

Question 30: What is (was) your occupation in your main job?

The census provides a detailed picture of the occupations of the entire population and is widely used by analysts and government in understanding the economic infrastructure of Ireland. Information is made available at a very detailed level both for occupation groups, and geographic areas and is a key part of the information infrastructure of the country.

Persons at work by occupation group 2006-2011 2006 2011
Farming, fishing and forestry 4.2 4.2
Manufacturing 11.6 9.2
Building and construction 8.7 6.3
Clerical, managing and government 17.3 17.1
Communication and transport 5.4 5.3
Sales and commerce 13.5 14.6
Professional, technical and health care 16.2 18.0
Services 10.7 11.7
Other 10.9 12.1
Looking for first regular job 1.4 1.5
Total (Labour force) 100.0 100.0

Question 31: if you are retired go to Question 35.

Retired persons are not required to answer the questions on the business of their employer and name and address of place of work.

Question 32: What is (was) the business of your employer at the place where you work(ed) in your main job?

The census provides a detailed picture of the industrial sectors of the economy and is widely used by analysts and government in understanding the economic infrastructure of Ireland. Information is made available at a very detailed level both for industrial groups, and geographic areas and is a key output of the census.

Guidelines on answering Question 32

  • It is vitally important that a detailed description is given
  • This question should only be answered by those at work or unemployed
  • It need not be answered by those who are retired
  • Answers should be in precise terms, eg :
Inadequate Response Possible Correct Response
Computers Making computers
Cars Repairing cars
Education Primary education
Food Bread wholesaler
Pharmaceuticals Making pharmaceuticals
Cleaning Contract office cleaning
Software Software development and support
Recreation Swimming pool
Local Authority Local Authority Cleaning Department

Local Authority Library Service

Local Authority Housing Department

Question 33: If you are unemployed go to Question 35.

Unemployed persons are not required to answer the question on name and address of place of work.

Question 34: What is the full name and address of your place of work, school or college?

The answer to this question will assist in identifying where people work and the industries they are employed in. More importantly the answers to this question will provide a detailed picture of the commuting patterns of everybody who travels to work, school or college. The data is widely used in analysing transport needs and in planning transport infrastructure.

Household Question 1: What type of accommodation does your household occupy?

The results from this question will help build a picture of the type of housing stock in the country, and what types of accommodation are prevalent in certain areas. It also enables an analysis of types of accommodation by people of different ages, nationalities, educational attainment etc.

Private household accommodation types 2011 Thousands
Detached house 699,869
Semi-detached house 456,651
Terraced house 281,825
Flat/apartment in a purpose built house 149,921
Flat/apartment in a converted house or commercial building 27,666
Bed-sit 5,695
Caravan/mobile home/temporary structure 4,800
Not stated 27,781
Total 1,654,208

Household Question 2: When was your house, flat or apartment first built?

This question will provide data on the age of the housing stock across the country and is used to determine depreciation rates of housing as part of macro-economic estimates. It will provide detailed information on the housing stock by small area and year built which is essential in understanding Ireland’s housing provision and needs.

Years in which private dwellings were built 2011 %
Before 1919 9.1
1919-1945 7.0
1946-1960 7.7
1961-1970 6.9
1971-1980 13.0
1981-1990 10.5
1991-2000 14.5
2001 to 2005 16.1
2006 or later 10.4
Not stated 4.8
Total 100.0

Household Question 3: Does your household own or rent your accommodation?

Housing tenure is an essential component in understanding housing provision. The data gathered in this question also plays an important role in the compilation of macro-economic estimates as part of the national accounts.

Private dwellings nature of occupancy 2011 Thousands
Own with mortgage or loan 583.1
Own outright 566.8
Rent 449.4
Occupied rent free 25.4
Not stated 24.7
Total 1,649.4

Household Question 4: If your accommodation is rented, how much rent does your household pay?

Taken together the data from this question and question H3 are used in the compilation of the annual National Accounts, from which the GDP and GNP figures are taken.

Household Question 5: How many rooms do you have for use only by your household?

The results to this question will allow a comparison of how many rooms households have available to them in their dwelling. This will facilitate comparisons with past censuses, across the country and across various demographic and social groups.

Household Question 6: What is the main type of fuel used by the central heating in your accommodation?

This is an expanded version of the home heating question asked in Census 2006. The householder is now required to indicate the type of central heating, if any, which is used in the dwelling. The results of this question will provide more information on the nature of the fuel types which are used by home heating systems in Ireland and the results will be used in the development of energy policy planning in Ireland.

Household Question 7: What type of piped water supply does your accommodation have?

This question is used to provide information on the nature of the piped water supply used in dwellings across the state. Together with question 8, this provides useful information for local authorities and planning bodies involved in housing policy and planning.

Household Question 8: What type of sewerage facility does your accommodation have?

The results of this question will indicate the type of sewerage systems used in dwellings. Together with question 7, this provides useful information for local authorities and planning bodies involved in housing policy and planning.

Household Question 9: How many cars or vans are owned or are available for use by one or more members of your household?

The results of this question will provide a detailed picture of the number of cars available to private households in Ireland.

Household Question 10: Does your household have a personal computer (PC)?

This question establishes the level of PC ownership. The results will provide an important gauge of the uptake of information technology around the country. The results will allow a comparison to be drawn between PC ownership levels during the previous census.

Private household PC Ownership
2006 2011
PC ownership 56.6 72.7
No PC Ownership 41.0 25.1
Not stated 2.4 2.2

Household Question 11: Does your household have access to the Internet?

This question establishes the level of access to internet services. The results will provide an important measure of the level of broadband penetration around the country and can be analysed by small geographic area, social class, age and level of education among others.

Private household Internet access
2006   2011
Internet Access 46.7 71.9
No Internet Access 48.1 25.8
Not stated 5.2 2.3