The 1980 Census of Population and Housing, like all other censuses which are separately documented, was designed to gather population and housing data. Population data included number of inhabitants, age, sex, marital status, citizenship, highest grade completed, literacy, language/dialect spoken in the household, gainful and non‑gainful occupation, major and minor industry, and migration. Housing items covered type of building, type of occupancy, construction materials of roof and outer walls, year built, floor area of the dwelling unit, tenure of owner‑occupant with respect to the land, kind of lighting facilities, use and source of water supply, type of toilet facilities, kind of cooking fuel and household appliances. Definitions of terms and concepts can be found in the explanatory text of the final report.
The enumeration unit was the household. Personal interviews of the head or any responsible member of the household were conducted using PH Form 2, 3, or 4. A combination of complete enumeration and sampling was employed. Items relating to the population count and personal characteristics were asked of all households while 20% (or every 5th household) were asked additional questions. Collective households were asked items of population true for all households but housing characteristics were excluded. The post-enumeration survey to determine the extent of under enumeration or over enumeration in the main survey was confined to 132 barangays in Metro Manila. No additional codes were adopted for documentation purposes.