Nepal has a long history of census taking. The first population census of Nepal was taken in 1911 and this practice was continued roughly every ten years. However, there is some evidence to show that a population count in one form or another took place even before 1911. An enumeration covering adult males reportedly took place during the regime of Bhimsen Thapa (1806-1838). This was possibly done with a view to recruiting adult men into the army. The existence of a Guthi (Cooperative Society) indicates the practice of counting houses in Kathmandu Valley even before the Bhimsen Thapa period (1806-I838). However, these censuses were conducted for limited purposes and were also confined to small areas of the country. Even the scope of four censuses (1911, 1920, 1930 and 1941) which were conducted during the Rana Regime (1846-1950) was also limited. Although, these censuses used a short census schedule to collect information on the name of the head of the household, age of persons by sex, occupation, ability to work, number of livestock and means of transportation, the final results were presented in aggregates, i.e. head counts only.
The first scientific census taken in the modern sense of the term started with the 1952/54 census which was conducted in two parts of the country separated by two years in tine. The eastern part of the country with the exception of Mahottari district was covered in 1952. Mahottari district was counted along with the rest of the country in 1954.
A brief description of the census operation covering mainly the censuses of 1952/54 and 1961 is presented below:
Prior to 1952/54 there was no separate Field Organization for conducting censuses. The censuses prior to 1952/54 were conducted through administrative fiat authorizing the district administration to collect various types of information including population counts. The district administrators in turn seem to have relied mainly upon the land revenue agents for providing such information concerning all persons in a village or a group of villages under the jurisdiction of these agents.
a) 1952/54 Census
The need for a separate organization for conducting censuses was realized only at the time of the first modern census of 1952/54 and accordingly, a central office was set up to carry out the tasks of census taking. Under the Central Office separate field offices and sub-divisional offices were created for the purpose of conducting censuses. The field level officers were in charge of recruiting and training the enumerators. In 1952/54 village chiefs and revenue agents acted as enumerators. Their work was supervised and thoroughly checked by trained workers (supervisors) employed by the census organization temporarily for this purpose.
b) 1961 Census
Village chiefs and land revenue collectors/agents were also involved in the tasks of census taking in 1961. Village chiefs (Mukhiyas) and revenue agents (Patwaris) acted either as enumerators or assisted in the tasks of field supervisors. The supervisors were recruited from local people in each district and had been given theoretical and practical training at the same district headquarters. There was one supervisor on average for each census sub-zone. The tasks of a supervisor were closely scrutinized by a section officer deputed to each census zone. In 1961, 15,933 enumerators were involved in the tasks of census taking. The fifty-five administrative districts of the time were divided into 18 census zones and 102 sub-zones comprising 456 census areas and 28,400 villages. The village was the unit of enumeration in 1961 but the district was the smallest unit for which data was made available.
The ancient history of Nepal is assumed to have begun in 750 B.C. and ended in 250 A.D. During that period Kirats ruled the country. But no written record of this is available. Early history of Nepal had witnessed the establishment of a number of beleaguered dynasties and principalities scattered in the fertile valleys of Kathmandu and Pokhara and in the river basins of the Karnali and the Gandaki. Although some others dynasties survived for a short period of time, others ruled for centuries. The Lichhavi dynasty, for instance, lasted over four centuries (464-879 A.D.). Anothergreat dynasty-the Malla-Dynasty-had established itself in Kathmandu valley around the 13th century, and lasted over five hundred years.The divided and hostile principalities and kingdoms were finally consolidated in 1769 under king Prithivi Narayan Shah and his successors to become the modern nation of Nepal. Socially and economically, however, the modern era in Nepal's history has started with the revival of the national aspirations of the poor countries in Asia after the Second World War. These aspirations were mainly concer-ned with acquiring independence, and emncipation from the perpetual state of ignorance, poverty and political stress. Failing to democratize the regime and to bring about educational, social and economic reforms in the country, the Rana Regime was finally thrown out by the joint efforts of the King and people of Nepal in 1951. Within the frame of the open policy with other nations, Nepal has been able to implement four economic development plans, with the cooperation of several countries and International Agencies. The fifth economic development2 plan (1975-80) has placed special priority on agricultural development as infrastructure for future industrial development and also has laid emphasis on industrialization of the country than the previous plans.
The objectives of the 1971 Population Census were:
1. to provide data for small administrative areas of the country on population and household,
2. to provide sex disaggregated data of the population and other variables related to households, demographic, social and economic conditions of the country, and
3. to provide detailed information onmarriages, women, children, the aged and the disabled.
4. to determine the prevailing trends and characteristics of population change, namely, age structure, mortality, fertility, education and labour force.
Kind of Data
Census/enumeration data [cen]
Unit of Analysis
Version 01 - Microdata is not available.
The scope of the 1971 Population Census of Nepal includes:
HOUSEHOLD: Household characteristics, household listing, absentee members, deceased persons, number of marriages, divorces, physical and mental disabilities
Absentee members: Individual characteristics, name of the absentee member and their age, sex, marital status, reason of being absent and where he/she has gone.
Deceased members: Individual characteristics, name of the deceased members and their age, sex and where and from whom s/he had received the treatment.
National Coverage Zones Districts Towns and Village Panchayat
The census covered all de jure household members (usual residents) in private households.
Producers and sponsors
Central Bureau of Statistics
His Majesty's Government
His Majesty's Government
United States Agency for International Development
Census data processing
Mr. John Adams
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
In each of the 17 census areas, an officer from the C.B.S. was appointed to direct and conduct the census operations in that area, and was assisted by one non-gazetted Class I official, and other subordinates. Similarly, in each of the 75 districts, one non-gazetted Class I personnel was appointed as a supervisor of the field work. A number of 8-10 panchayat was assigned to each Kharidar (non-gazetted Class II) to carry out the preliminary household count in the specific household schedule. The household list has provided the frame for the individual enumeration.
Data Collection Notes
1. Planning and Organization of the Census
The legal provision for conducting periodic population censuses was made available in the Statistical Act 2015 dated 18 Marga 2015, of which clause number (4) has left the decision for compiling statistics on any topic to a written order, from His Majesty's Government. For each census conducted in Nepal by the Central Bureau of Statistics, a special Notice was issued in the Official Gazette defining the census organization, the responsibilities of the governmental and private institutions. They were to cooperate in an utmost and helpful manner with the Central Bureau of Statistics in providing all possible assistance to the Statistical Officers deputized by the C.B.S. for conducting the census.
Section (4) of the Statistical Act (2015) provides that "….HMG through a written Notice can order the compilation of data on any affair ………………to specify the schedules for the compilation of necessary information……………… and appoint or nominate authorized officers for the purpose of collecting such data ………………"
The Act obligates the individuals of any community under a written request to supply any information or data under their possession as specified in the order.
On the other hand, the Act has strictly guaranteed the confidentiality of all information provided to the officers, under section 8 ("………… the information collected under sections 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, regarding the individual family, household or company or parts thereof, should not be divulged, directly or indirectly, to any person except the Director or the Officers of Department without a written approval of the person concerned").This status closely follows the United Nation's recommendation for census legislation as set out in "Principles and Recommendations for National Population Censuses". (ST/STAT/SER.M/44) which state: "Legal authority for the census is required for fixing primary administrative responsibility, for obtaining the necessary funds, for determining
the general scope and timing o the census and for placing a legal obligation upon the public ………"."The principle of conceptual and organizational flexibility should be observed in drafting the census legislation. Thus, the inclusion of too rigid provisions regarding the type of data to be collected, or the structure and relationships of the various parts of the census organization are undesirable …………".
2. Preparation and Administration
In the census of 1971, the 14 administrative zones of the kingdom were further divided into 17 census areas with a view to effect more efficient supervision and control of the field work, particularly in the rugged and remote zones of Karnali and Dhaulagiri, and also to ensure smooth and efficient enumeration. The subdivisions of zones into 75 districts were kept intact. In each of the 17 census areas, an officer from the C.B.S. was appointed to direct and conduct the census operations in that area, and was assisted by one non-gazetted Class I official, and other subordinates. Similarly, in each of the 75 districts, one non-gazetted Class I personnel was appointed as a supervisor of the field work. A number of 8-10 panchayat was assigned to each Kharidar (non-gazetted Class II) to carry out the preliminary household count in the specific household schedule. The household list has provided the frame for the individual enumeration. With the cooperation of Home Ministry a list of all town and village panchayat had been prepared, and all names were arranged alphabetically district wise for the purpose of coding.
Two sets of maps were prepared in collaboration with the concerned department. The first set including maps for zones to be used by zonal officers and the second set on district level to be used by district supervisors. All houses in town panchayats and only in big village panchayats were numbered six months before the census operation. In town panchayats each town was divided into blocks corresponding to some extent to the wards division and within each block houses were given two numbers .The first denotes the house serial number in the block and the second denotes the block's number. All preparatory work for the census was done by the C.B.S. officials. The Director was personally involved in supervising the field work of his officers and subordinates. This included flow of documents and transportation of personnel and materials. Altogether total of about 12,500 supervisors and enumerators were employed temporarily.
3. Recruitment and Training of Personnel
Due to the fact that there exists a large number of linguistic and tribal communities, it was felt more practical to recruit and train local people in each enumeration area, than to recruit personnel at the center, and send them later to the field. The Zonal Officers, their assistants, and a large number of Kharidars were all recruited at the center and trained rigorously, and the census schedule was pre-tested in two village panchayats and an urban sector. Further, the zonal officers established 17 training centers in the census areas to train the appointed 12,000 enumerators. It should be noted that due to the volume of work, the dispersion of localities and the low rate of literacy, the minimum qualification required for recruiting an enumerator were his abilities to read and write.
The household list was prepared by the Kharidars and kept in the district census office for further check with the individual forms filled in by the enumerators. Any discrepancy between the two schedules was to be verified on the spot by the census supervisor.
Central Bureau of Statistics
His Majesty's Government
The census questionnaire is the ultimate field document from which all data are compiled. Needless to say that the simpler is the questionnaire designed the greater will be the level of accuracy and easier the counting procedures and coding and editing of the items. The questionnaire used in 1971 census was pre-coded. The purpose of pre-coding was initially to minimize the answers to be written so that further editing and coding processes would also be minimized.
The questionnaire of 1971 census contained the following items:
Name of the Head of the Household
Events During Last Year
Family Serial No.
Absent (6) Months and More
No. of deaths
Male Marriages during Last Year
Male Divorces during Last Year
Signature of Respondent
e. Place of Birth
h. Mother Tongue
i. Marital Status (Single, Married, Divorced, Widowed)
j. Number of Children ever born during Life Time
k. Number of Children still alive
l. Births occurring during the Last Year
m. Literacy (Literate or Illiterate)
n. School Enrolment
o. Years of Schooling Completed
p. Economic Activity (Economically Active or Inactive)
q. Economic Status (Employer, Employee, etc.)
r. Status of the Unemployed
A primary check was done by the supervisors on the spot in order to tally the household schedule with the census questionnaire. Further editing and coding procedures were completed by the supervisors in the office. It was expected that a considerable proportion of unknown category will come about particularly regarding age, economic status, and other items. Regarding age some method was elaborated in pointing out a direct relationship between age and certain major events occurring during the last six or seven decades from which the enumerator, if the respondent fails to estimate his age, could deduce the respondent 's approximate age. It was thought that this method would ultimately give a better estimate of ages, instead of obtaining a very big category of unknown ages. Admittedly, this procedure had, to some extent given the enumerator, the liberty to estimate the respondent's age within the limits of a wide range, particularly, adult ages.
Just after the field work was completed an IBM Computer Model 1401, was made available to the CBS on hire basis. Mr. John Adams from USAID was assigned to process Nepal's census data in Kathmandu. All tabulations were produced in two volumes, and the works were completed in nearly one and half year.
Central Bureau of Statistics
Director: Publication, Dissemination and Library Section
Central Bureau of Statistics
The World Bank Microdata Library
Confidentiality of the respondents is guaranteed by Article 8 of Statistics Act 1958.
Restriction on publication of information and details
Any information or details relating to any person, family, firm or company, which have been supplied, obtained or prepared pursuant to Section 3 or Section 4 or Section 5 or Section 6 or Section 7 or any part of such information or details, shall not be disclosed or published directly except to the Director General or to any other officer of the Bureau without the written permission of the person or of his or her authorized representative supplying such information or details.
For the purpose of institution of any suit under this Act, nothing mentioned in Sub-section (1) shall be deemed to bar the production of such information before any court.
Use of the dataset must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
- the Identification of the Primary Investigator
- the title of the survey (including country, acronym and year of implementation)
- the survey reference number
- the source and date of download
Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Nepal. National Population Census 1971. Ref. NPL_1971_PHC_v01_M. Dataset downloaded from [source] on [date].
Disclaimer and copyrights
The Central Bureau of Statistics, Nepal bears no responsibility for any outcomes or for interpretations or inferences arising from the use of this documents.
DDI Document ID
Binod Sharan Acharya, Statistical Officer
Central Bureau of Statistics
Metadata Documentation of the Census
Accelerated Data Program
International Household Survey Network
Editing for IHSN Survey Catalog
Date of Metadata Production
DDI Document version
Version 1.0 - Central Bureau of Statistics - Original documentation of the study.
Version 2.0 - Edited version by ADP based on Version 1.0 of CBS downloaded from http://cbs.gov.np/nada/index.php/catalog on 30 April 2013.