중앙데일리

Open the door for Auntie Census

Statistics Korea believes people are likelier to answer questions from middle-aged women.

Apr 07,2010
The government is hoping that the friendly faces of thousands of middle-aged women will improve the public response to this year’s national census.

Statistics Korea will concentrate on hiring women in their 30s and 40s to conduct the door-to-door surveys in November, the state-run agency announced yesterday. The preference for ajumma, as middle-aged women are known in Korea, reflects the belief that people feel more comfortable opening their doors to female strangers rather than males, while middle-aged women tend to be more persuasive in dealing with households that are reluctant to respond.

The national census, which takes place every five years, will be conducted from Nov. 1 to 15, with 95,000 census takers asking households simple questions about their living conditions.

Hiring for the survey agents will begin in August, with each paid 42,000 won ($37.39) a day. They will be required to wear state-issued identification tags.

“It has become harder to make people open their doors and respond because of so many crimes happening out there,” said one Statistics Korea official.

In previous years, census takers had typically been young college students and housewives hoping to earn extra money by taking temporary work.

But officials believe that the ajumma will prove more effective.

“The college students give up as soon as a household refuses to let them in. But these ajumma are more persistent, trying harder to persuade a homeowner to open the door and answer questions,” said the Statistics Korea official.

“People feel that ajumma are more approachable and so they tend to be more willing to answer their questions.”

The questions on the census range from the most mundane - details about the number of family members, their ages and professions and the number of rooms in a household - to more personal information about the family’s income, car ownership, disability status, how many children they plan to have, the amount of property they own and whether or not they have any relatives in North Korea.

The statistical agency also said the 2010 census will be the last survey in which agents will make door-to-door visits, since the government will depend on state records and online databases to compile future population surveys.


By Jung Ha-won [hawon@joongang.co.kr]



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