The home for census data for all parts of the UK
Statistics from the UK censuses help paint a picture of the nation and how we live. They provide a detailed snapshot of the population and its characteristics and underpin funding allocation to provide public services.
The UK Data Service holds and enables access to aggregate, boundary, flow and microdata from the last six censuses from 1961 through to 2011 and is supporting the government in providing access to the census data for 2021. Also through Integrated Census Microdata (I-CeM), we provide access to census data from 1851-1911.
Watch our webinar recording 2021 Census: What is planned and how will you use it? and find out more in the accompanying presentation and census webinars.
News and impact
Podcast feature: Census 2021 focus on ethnicity
Why run a census in the middle of a pandemic?
David Martin, Deputy Director of the UK Data Service, introduced our blog series on the 2021/22 UK census, with a pertinent discussion of ‘why now?’
Aggregate census data and the UK Data Service
As part of our series of posts on the 2021/2022 UK censuses, Rob Dymond-Green explored how the UK Data Service offers access to UK census data from 1971 to 2011, and how the 2021/2022 censuses have developed from earlier versions.
Our census experts have also been interviewed on various podcasts and radio interviews and the UK Data Service Impact blog posts include:
- Perspectives on the Census from the Office for National Statistics.
- Rihab Dahab sharing the tale of the Census Microdata from the UK Data Service.
- Oliver Duke-Williams – flow data expertise and the quality survey.
- Matthew Woollard – the historical perspective on the development of the UK Censuses.
Visit our featured external resources for data access from other organisations.
See our census explainers for more information on the migration and deprivation data.
Supporting documentation and additional datasets
Read census explainers for Census 2021 variables.
Census boundary data supporting geographic datasets – lookups, population weighted centroids.
Census 1961 – 2011
The UK Data Service provide access to a large number of census datasets. The collection is being expanded as we add data from new censuses, and also as we make available new datasets from older censuses.
The datasets are broadly divided by the type of data: aggregate data (the most commonly used data, the numbers of people with certain characteristics), flow data (a form of aggregate data about people moving between locations), microdata (samples of individual records, with identifying variables removed), and boundary data (allowing maps to be drawn and other forms of spatial analysis to be conducted).
Mapping 2011 Census microdata using R guide
One of the advantages of using census microdata is that users can derive bespoke variables unavailable in census tables.
The UK Data Service has produced a guide to show the strength of using census microdata for a variety of research purposes via a worked example taken from real-life research.
View our guide Mapping 2011 Census Microdata using R (PDF).
Census 1851 – 1911
The UK Data Service also provides access to individual level historicthe I-CeM project.census records that have been released under the ‘hundred year rule’; these data are supported by
Obtaining census aggregate data
The UK Data Service provides web-based interfaces that enable users to access and extract data from the aggregate statistics outputs from the 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011 Censuses, together with a range of associated datasets and services.
InFuse contains 2011 and 2001 Census aggregate data. InFuse is an intuitive interface that allows you to select data by topics rather than by table.
DKAN contains data from 2011 and 2001 Census Data as bulk csv files, which contain all the variables for a particular census table of a combination of topics. We are in the process of exporting bulk versions of our data and will be adding 1991, 1981 and 1971 data soon.
Casweb is our older interface, which contains 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001 Census aggregate data as well as 1991 and 2001 Census boundary data. We are no longer updating Casweb and are concentrating our resource into developing InFuse.
- Access InFuse (2011 UK, and 2001 England and Wales data).
- Access DKAN (2011 and 2001 as bulk data).
- Access Casweb (1971-2001 UK data).
Anyone can access InFuse and Casweb.
Accessing 2011 Census data
View our video tutorial on using our open access census support tool, InFuse.
The UK Data Service has written a number of ‘explainer’ documents, which
describe some of the questions asked in the census, how the resulting
data are used to produce outputs, and things that you need to know about
these outputs in order to interpret them effectively.
As well as exploring questions asked in the census – both those which
were newly introduced in the 2021/22 Censuses, and some longer standing
ones – we also look at some of the processes involved in taking the
census and ensuring individual’s data is protected, and key ideas in
understanding the results.
We will publish these explainers in this section over the next few weeks.
Second address in the 2021/22 Census
Language in the 2021/22 Census
National identity in the 2021/22 Census
Ethnicity in the 2021/22 Census
Internal migration in the 2021/22 Census
Country of birth in the 2021/22 Census
Age and year of arrival in the UK in the 2021/22 Census
Religion in the 2021/22 Census
Passports held in the 2021/22 Census
Census explainer: sexual orientation and gender identity questions
Forms, definitions and websites
Does the census cover the right topics for you?
The census in all UK countries has been undertaken in a consistent manner. However, there are differences in some of the questions asked, processing, and detailed methodology.
Use of census data
Find out what others have done with census data
Below are links to analyses of census data on a variety of topics, including migration and demography, ethnicity and national identity, health, housing, the labour market, language, religion, and unpaid care.
See case studies related to the census.
Detailed analyses of census data on a variety of topics.
Briefing documents on the Dynamics of Diversity series evidence from the 2011 Census.
The Migration Observatory is making migration-related 2011 Census data available through a suite of outputs.
Mapping census data in QGIS
Mapping census data in QGIS guide
QGIS is an open source mapping package which can be downloaded for free – it has a good range of functionality and is straightforward to use.
It can take census data for a given set of geographic areas (such as local authorities, wards or super output areas) and boundary data for the same set of areas and map the data.
The UK Data Service has produced a guide showing how you can map census data using the QGIS package.
View our guide Mapping Census data in QGIS (PDF).
UK census geography
ONS Census Geography web pages
Geo-Refer (2007) Geographical referencing learning resources
Rees P., Martin D.M. and Williamson P. (2002) The census data system, Chichester: Wiley.
Stillwell, J. (ed.) (2018) The Routledge Handbook of Census Resources, Methods and Applications Unlocking the UK 2011 Census, ISBN 9780367660031, Routledge.
Handling spatial data and GIS
Longley P.A., Goodchild M.F., Maguire D.J. and Rhind D.W. (2001), Geographic information systems and science, Chichester: Wiley.
Martin, D. (1996) Geographic information systems: socioeconomic applications, London: Routledge.
Monmonier, M. (1996) How to lie with maps, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Walford, N. (2002) Geographical data: characteristics and sources, Chichester: Wiley.