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2006 Census: Educational Portrait of Canada, 2006 Census: Substantial changes to census questions on education

Questions pertaining to education on the census questionnaire changed substantially between 2001 and 2006, principally to reflect developments in Canada's education system. The education portion of the questionnaire had not changed in many years, even though the education system had evolved considerably.

These changes improved the quality of data collected by the census. For example, for the first time, information is available on the province, territory or country in which Canadians attained their highest level of education. In addition, the census has provided more precise information on the level of educational attainment and fields of study.

However, changes to the questionnaire have meant that comparisons with data from previous censuses must be limited. For example, data on Field of study from the 2006 Census cannot be compared with 2001 data because of changes in the types of fields that were measured.

Questions pertaining to university degrees attained in 2006, for example, a bachelor's degree or a master's degree, were similar to those asked in 2001. However, the 2006 Census collected information on non-university certification differently than in 2001.

For these reasons, this analytical document will make only a limited comparison of data between 2001 and 2006 in one area: highest level of educational attainment for individuals. Data for the two census years will be compared for university graduates, and various degrees therein, and for the non-university educated as a whole.

The remainder of the analysis will compare the relative educational position of young adults to that of their older counterparts, but for 2006 only. This report will focus on the working age population aged 25 to 64.

Moreover, when comparing the census results to other Statistics Canada data sources, it appears that the census overestimates persons who have a 'university certificate or diploma below bachelor level.' Although it affects a relatively small population, it is best to apply caution when analysing the census data of this category. For more information on factors that may explain such variances in census data, such as response errors and processing errors, please refer to the 2006 Census Dictionary, Appendix B – Data quality, sampling and weighting, confidentiality and random rounding.

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