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Historical Context of Census in Barbados

The first modern Census of the population of Barbados was conducted on June 3rd, 1844.  Before 1844 there were some estimates of individual enumeration followed by a period where there was no count of the population (excluding the population slaves) for many years.  Therefore the 1844 Census represented a count of all citizens, whether they were freed slaves or not.

Another milestone was achieved at the time of the 1946 Census, as this was the first time that the Census was organised with close collaboration with other British Colonies in the Caribbean.

These facts highlight that Barbados has had a long history of Census taking and from 1946 it has always been on the premise of a Population and Housing Census, not just on the Population of Barbados alone.  Although, having the practice of conducting Censuses in the early years, they were not conducted on a regular predictable manner, necessary for comparable information produced in a fixed sequence.

From 1960 onward Barbados has been conducting regular Censuses every ten (10) years as recommended by the United Nations Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses.  Of course there have been tremendous strides in the methodology of how we have managed the Census process over time. From 1946-1980 the questionnaire development, manuals, other training materials and processing were handled collaboratively at the regional level with assistance from agencies, such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and CARICOM.

The 1990 round of Census proved to be monumental because it represented the first time that the Census was managed and produced locally in all of its various aspects and this continues to be the case.

The Barbados Statistical Service (BSS) has the mandate by law, for conducting a decennial Population & Housing Census for Barbados.  Traditionally, Census Day in Barbados is held on the year ending on “0” and on May 1 to coincide with the Labour Day holiday.  This reference point is deemed to be easy to remember when respondents are asked to recall where they were living and what they were doing on Census Day.  The last such census was held on May 1, 2010.

Total Population at Each Census


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