Micro-census data

Centre for Research in Micro Census Data

Micro-Census Data Hub

(Hosted by ISI Library)



In every Census huge volume of information is collected. The information is then processed and tabulated. The Census Organisation in India has been publishing the tabulated results of Census since the initiation of the modern Census in 1872 in various book forms. Post-Independence, the conduct of Decennial Census is governed by the stipulations of Census Act 1948 and its rules. This Act stipulates that the information given by any respondent at the decennial Census is to be treated as confidential. Such information is also prohibited from being presented or used as exhibits in any court of law. The Census data published by the Census Commissioner, India is in the form of aggregate tables at various administrative levels like, the Country, State, District, Sub-District, Town, Village or Ward in Town as the case may be, where it is not possible to identify the individual(s) to whom these relate to. As information is power and a collection of information itself is very costly, many countries allow researchers access to such a huge dataset as in Census at Micro- level for individual research. Indian Census has also decided to extend this facility to the researchers and has undertaken the project of setting up 18 Workstations country-wide for research on micro-data from Census within the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17). While allowing research on micro-data, it is therefore of utmost importance to anonymize the data to protect confidentiality by masking the location and a few sensitive fields. After anonymizing the dataset is made available for in-depth research at the workstations on varying characteristics of the population of the country. Besides this, fresh Tabulations and Cross-Tabulations outside the tables generated by Census Organisation as per the approved `Tabulation Plan' will also be permitted to the Researchers from the Micro-Data sets available at the Workstation. However, the researchers are not permitted to take out soft-copies of the generated cross-tabulations or take out data from the Workstation.


The objective for setting up the Workstation is to permit qualified researchers optimum use of anonymized micro-data from Census for in-depth research by allowing access for generating micro analysis results not published by the Census. The facility is open to all including those who are not enrolled or part of this Institute. Such research would not only allow greater utilization of data by way of generating cross-tabulations from confidential micro-data not otherwise possible by using aggregate level data available in the public domain. An in-depth study might also contribute towards improving the methodology of data collection during Census as well as identify strengths and weaknesses of the micro-data. Each set of observations arrived at the Data Centre after research would be the end result of decision rules covering definitions, classifications, coding procedures, processing, editing, etc. The validity and consequences of all these decision rule only become evident when the ORGI's micro-databases would be tested in the course of analysis. Exposing to the light of research the conceptual and processing assumptions that are embedded in the Census micro-databases constitute an important element in improving the quality of data.

What is Sample Micro Data
Census is conducted in two phases:

  • House listing and Housing Census, and
  • Population Enumeration.

"MicroData" refers to information provided by one individual respondent at the time of the Census. These are made available after anonymizing sensitive fields and location particulars to avoid the identification of the respondent. Sample Micro Data from House listing and Housing Census in Census 2001 have been made available at the Workstation providing Household-level information. Other Sample Micro Data Files from Census 2001 & Census 2011 will be made available in due course. Sample Micro Data are of two types:

(i) National level sample (1% sample) and (ii) State level sample (5% or 10% sample depending on the population size of the State). It is possible to generate Tables at India/State level using the National level sample (1%). Similarly, one may generate State/District level tables using the State level samples (5% or 10%). CSPro software has also been made available to generate tables. At the Workstation, the facility is extended to researchers to use the database for generating any cross-classified tables required by the researcher. It facilitates research and allows proving a hypothesis formulated by the researcher.

[Beside Sample Micro Data, all published Census Tables published from 1991 to 2011 Census available in soft copy are also stored at the Workstation. As and when new Tables from Census 2011 are released by the Census Organisation, the same will be made available at the Workstation. The complete set of data will be given free of cost to encourage use of Census Data.]

Other information:

Location: The workstation is located on the 3rd floor of the Library, Documentation & Information Science Division, S. N. Bose Bhavan, Indian Statistical Institute, 203, B.T. Road, Kolkata 700108 [Access is through the Library main entrance at the First Floor].

Facilities: The Workstation is a collaborative effort by the Directorate of Census Operations West Bengal under the aegis of Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India at New Delhi and the Institute with a grant from the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India. The workstation is equipped with all the facilities for research on confidential Micro-Data from Census 2001 and Census 2011, supervised by an Institute official to provide access to the data sets required in the approved research proposal. The workstation is fully air-conditioned and has a network of computer terminals for accessing the data. The Centre will be open during office hours of the Institute.

How to Access the Data :
The Workstation will function under the supervision and control of the Institute. A research proposal is to be submitted by potential users. Postgraduate students, Research Scholars, faculty members of academic institutions and members of research organizations may apply. Students will be encouraged to use the Workstation.

  • Applications must be duly endorsed by Heads of Department / Supervisors, as relevant (sending Scanned copies by email are also permitted. On arrival at the workstation, the candidate must supply the originals).
  • Applications must mention the tentative duration/period (to be confirmed only after approval) of a visit.
  • The candidate should show a valid Identification at the time of arrival.

The proposal will comprise the following :

  • Background information of the researcher in a format supplied on the website (including age, gender, highest qualification, affiliation, address, and email).
  • Statement of purpose (100 - 150 words)
  • Specific data requirement.

A Steering Committee comprising three representatives from the institute and two from Directorate of Census Operations, West Bengal will evaluate the research proposals and allow research.

The current composition of the steering committee is as under :
Professor Amita Majumder Chairperson
Dr. Palash Chandra Coomar Jt. Convener
Dr. Tapan Kumar Mandal, Member
Smt. Sayantika Basu Evaluator
Professor Diganta Mukherjee Coordinator

Any user may also access the Census Tables available at the Workstation. The researcher will be permitted to only use the software made available at the workstation for tabulation. The researchers may also use the printer installed in the workstation to print the outputs approved by the steering committee. She/he will however not be allowed to take out the soft copy of the micro-data in any format.

Proposals should be directed through the Library, contact at

Do's & Don'ts for the Users:
The researcher has to work under the supervision of the Committee.

  1. Security of data has to be ensured. Copying of data will not be permitted.
  2. Only final outputs from the research, after vetting from the Steering Committee, will be allowed to be printed and taken out.
  3. The Workstation will not be connected to the Internet.
  4. No fee will be required to be paid.