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Governance Media Transparency

2011 NHS: Community organizations officially left in the dark

Today’s first release of the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) data confirmed what we had previously written on December 6, 2012. It appears the data quality was so poor that Statistics Canada decided to release neither data at the dissemination area (DA) nor the census tract (CT) levels. These are more commonly referred to as ‘community-level’ data.

NHS Focus on Geography Series

2011 National Household Survey: Data tables

NHS User Guide > Chapter 6 – Data dissemination for NHS standard products

It’s unclear at this point whether the community-level data will be released at a later date, or only provided on a paid-access basis. Given the obviously problematic data quality, the latter would be ill-advised.

As an example, the small community that received the Statscan letter referenced in the December 2012 post had a population of about 65,000 in 2006. That community was swallowed up in amalgamation and is now part of a census subdivision (CSD) with a population of 1,600,000. The lowest level geography made available in today’s 2011 NHS release was CSD. According to Statscan, the non-response rate for that amalgamated CSD was 21%. To put that in context, non-response in that small community’s now amalgamated CSD was equivalent to 5 communities its size. From a statistical perspective, that community has effectively disappeared.

That was the biggest news from yesterday’s 2011 NHS release: No community-level data (both DA and CT) was released.

Editor’s Note:
For context, census tract data has been available since 1941, dissemination area data since 2001 (enumeration area data, the DA equivalent prior to 2001, dates back to 1961).

Update (26/06/2013):
An update to this post can be found here.

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