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The tradition of decennial population censuses in Singapore was introduced by the British colonial administration in 1871, although it has been claimed that the first census was carried out in 1824 (Shantakumar, 1986).
Modern censuses, conforming to international recommendations, have been carried out in 1970, 1980 and 1990. The 1990 population census is the most comprehensive enumeration ever undertaken in Singapore, utilizing computer-based integrated or relational databases which are similar to pseudo population registers (Shantakumar, 1990). The 1990 census was a bold experiment in data collection methodology (Lau, 1990), very similar to population registers elsewhere.1/ It used an integrated relational database system to gather information from households.
Administrative records of persons accessed through unique identification numbers, computerized reticulation of census districts and the creation of a pre-census household database were among the innovations making extensive use of information technology. A comprehensive household database is expected to be established.
In the main enumeration, the usual socio-economic and demographic information was sought, including language, religion and income. Working persons provided information on business or work activity, mode of transport and incomes. Educational attainment by field and country of study, year and the currently enrolled provided further data. For ever-married women, data were collected on age at first marriage, number of children ever born and age when the first child was born. For the elderly (60 + years of age), mobility status was covered.