Census

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. And 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.

Census 2021 news and impact

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.

About UK censuses

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.

Questions and definitions often change between censuses. You can access the census forms including the 2021 Census, census definitions, and the census agencies websites for further information.

Census aggregate data guide

What are census aggregate data?

The aggregate data produced as outputs from censuses in the United Kingdom provide information on a wide range of demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the population.

They are predominantly a collection of aggregated, or summary, counts of the numbers of people, families or households resident in specific geographical areas or ‘zones’ possessing particular characteristics, or combinations of characteristics, drawn from the themes of population, people and places, families, ethnicity and religion, health, work, and housing.

An example of the kind of information available from the aggregate data might be the numbers of people who are aged over 50 and are unemployed (a combination of characteristics) within each of the wards in the district of Greater Manchester (a set of geographical zones). The characteristics could include a wide range of information on demographic and socio-economic themes that is gathered as part of the census process.

The aggregate data are the most commonly and widely used component of the outputs from UK censuses. They are derived from analysis of the information provided in census returns. The 2001 Census aggregate data are based on analysis of a full sample of all returned forms, with adjustment in the outputs for people and households who may have been missed out and not been recorded on a form, or alternatively, may have been counted more than once by being recorded on more than one form.

The information that can be obtained from the aggregate data is presented as a series of over 1000 pre-defined univariate and multivariate tabulations. An illustration of what this means is given in the example below.

Aggregate data for Zoneworld

Zoneworld is an imaginary set of four zones inhabited by a population of 50 individuals whose basic age and gender characteristics are illustrated below:

Zoneworld illustration of four zones inhabited by a population of 50 individuals showing basic age and gender characteristics.

The information that it is possible to obtain from the census about the age and sex of the residents in the different zones can be represented in the following cross-tabulation of simple classifications of age and gender.

Age/Sex Male Female
Over 16 count_1 count_2
Under 16 count_3 count_4

An identifier or code, count_1, for example, is used to show that information about the number of males who are over 16 years of age is available for each of the zones of Zoneworld. Thus, we see from the cross-tabulation below that in Zone A there are 3 male individuals aged over 16 and 3 females aged over 16, for example:

count_1 count_2  count_3 count_4
Zone A 3 4 2 3
Zone B 4 3 1 3
Zone C 6 6 3 4
Zone D 4 3 0 0

Aggregate data are available for the full range of geographies employed within the census, from the smallest (output areas with an average of 150 persons in England and Wales) to the nation as a whole.

For further information about the geographies used in the output of census aggregate data, see the section on census geography in the Office for National Statistics’ A Beginner’s Guide to UK Geography.


What can census aggregate data tell us?

Census aggregate data provide the most complete source of information about the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the UK population that is available. They provide a wide range of comparable information at a range of geographical levels across the entire UK and so can be used to describe and compare population characteristics in different locations across the UK.

The primary purpose of censuses in the UK is to provide central and local government with the information required for them to target resources and services effectively to meet the anticipated needs of the population. Census aggregate data are also widely used across the academic sector for research and teaching and across the private sector for marketing and site location.

Census aggregate data can be used by themselves but are also often combined with information from other sources to provide background or context. They have also been used to create derived measures, such as deprivation scores or area classifications.


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.

Census boundary data

What are digitised boundary datasets?

Census area statistics provide counts of people or households for geographical areas broken down by socio-demographic characteristics such as age, gender or employment.

Digitised boundary datasets (sometimes referred to as DBDs or boundary data) are a digitised representation of the underlying geography of the census. They are often used within Geographical Information Systems (GIS) or Computer aided Designs (CAD) systems.

Figure 1: Digital boundary example

Copyright statement: Contains National Statistics data © Crown copyright and database right 2021. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2021.

The geography of the census consists of a hierarchical subdivision of UK local government areas of various types down to sub-authority areas, such as wards, to lower levels created specifically for census purposes such as enumeration districts in 1971, 1981 and 1991 or output areas in 2001 and 2011. The smallest units can then be aggregated to produce larger areas – for 2011 Census these include Super Output Areas which come in two forms – Lower SOAs and Middle SOAs with the latter being the larger. New geographies also exist for the 2011 Census, specifically the Workplace Zones and Census Merged Wards. Readers should consult the Office for National Statistics (ONS) product guide for a fuller description.

For example, the geography of the 1991 Census for England consisted of a 4-level hierarchy: enumeration districts (EDs) at the lowest level nest within wards, districts and counties.

Figure 2: 2011 Census Geography hierarchy going from Country to Local Authority to Middle Layer Super Output Area (MSOA) to Lower Layer Super Output Area (LSOA) to Output Area

Copyright statement: Contains National Statistics data © Crown copyright and database right 2021. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2021.

The digitised co-ordinates (points, lines, areas) which make up these census geographies are available as digitised boundary datasets. These form the areal representation buckets against which various census statistics e.g. counts of households, proportion of males:females etc. can be associated and subsequently visualised and analysed.


What can digitised boundary datasets tell us?

Census area statistics contain a pointer (generally a code such as E09000022 which represents the 2011 code for the London Borough of Lambeth), to the geographical census areas to which they relate. By linking census area statistics with the corresponding digitised boundary datasets for a specific census year, the census attributes can be visualised as a map. Mapping census datasets in this way allows for an exploration of the characteristics of census datasets geographically and may provide additional demographic, socio-economic and cultural insights into the census data.

As an example, it is possible to explore the patterns of housing tenure recorded in the census – such as the proportion of people who live in local authority housing. By linking the census statistics to DBDs of county boundaries or outputs areas within a specific region/area and producing a shaded choropleth map of the numerical values held in the census dataset, it can be shown how housing in one region/area differs from another and whether there are any interesting patterns in the geographical distribution of census variables.

Figure 3: Choropleth map showing proportion of people working more than 49 hours per week by South East England Local Authority as recorded by the 2011 Census.

Copyright statement: Contains National Statistics data © Crown copyright and database right 2021. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2021.

Using the census statistics and boundaries in a Geographical Information System (GIS) allows for spatial analysis of the census data and its combination with other non-census geographically referenced datasets.

Digitised boundary datasets can be used for:

  • map production for research articles
  • data synthesis and development of residential neighbourhoods
  • geostatistical analysis of demographic or employment change
  • small area analysis and deprivation studies
  • health care research – incidence mapping and analysis
  • historical demographic research.

The geography of the decennial census is not fixed. For the same physical local area, the output geography used in the 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001 or 2011 Censuses may be quite different.

Figure 4a: 2001 Census Output Areas in Leeds city centre drawn on top of a 2011 Ordnance Survey map.

Contains National Statistics data © Crown copyright and database right 2021. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2021.

Figure 4b: 2011 Census Output Areas for the same location in Leeds city centre. Some 2001 Census Output areas have been split for 2011 to ensure Output Area population thresholds are retained given new urban housing developments between 2001 and 2011.

Significantly, different research questions may require mapping of the same census statistic at different scales and in different locations.

Figure 5a: 2011 Census population by all English and Welsh Local Authorities.

Copyright statement: Contains National Statistics data © Crown copyright and database right 2021. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2021.

Figure 5b: 2011 Census population by all Lower Layer Super Output Areas within Leeds Local Authority. The same census statistic can be analysed at different geographic scales.

Copyright statement: Contains National Statistics data © Crown copyright and database right 2021. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2021.


Obtaining census boundary data

We provide support for and access to a variety of facilities and tools by which users can use the full collection of digitised boundary datasets and supporting datasets, including geographic look-up tables.

These datasets are available either pre-packaged or through dynamic user-driven interfaces permitting user-defined custom selection of boundaries and look up tables. Quick access to the most regularly requested boundaries as ready-to-use national datasets is also provided.

Functionally more complex data extraction facilities allows users to select boundaries for any specific area required, for the census year required, and in a range of different data output formats. This flexibility allows users to download census output areas for several counties or for a specific ward or district. During the boundary selection process, the chosen boundaries can be previewed over a topographic back-drop map before finally being extracted in one of several data formats for use with different GIS and mapping packages.

The range of tools available include:

Easy Download: This facility lets users quickly download the most regularly requested census boundaries available in popular formats.

Boundary Data Selector: This facility lets users select the boundaries they want, for the areas they want, in the format they want.

GeoConvert: This facility lets users obtain and manipulate complex geographical and postcode data in a straightforward way.

Postcode Data Selector: This facility allows users to download the set of postcodes that you want from postcode directories released between 2001 and the present day.

Postcode Directory Download: This facility allows users to download complete versions of current and historical postcode directories (sometimes referred to as look-up tables).

WICID (Web-based Interface to Census Interaction Data): This facility allows users to select and download migration and journey-to-work flow data collected by the census of population.

Casweb: This facility contains boundary data bundled with census aggregate data for the 2001 and 1991 Censuses.

What data are available?

Many boundary types are available for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (2001 and 2011 data only) including:

  • Census boundaries e.g. 2011, 2001, 1991, 1981 and 1971 Census boundaries
  • Administrative boundaries e.g. districts, unitary authorities, health boundaries
  • Electoral boundaries e.g. wards, parliamentary constituencies
  • Environmental boundaries e.g. national parks, urban footprints
  • Postal boundaries and postcode-related boundaries
  • Historical boundaries pre-1971 census and administrative boundaries from 1840 onwards
  • Other boundaries e.g. synthetic neighbourhood localities.

Important supporting datasets include geographic look-up tables. These include versions of the ONS Postcode Directory (ONSPD) from the Office of National Statistics which provides details of the locations of current and historic postcodes along with details of other geographic areas in which the postcode is located.

Such datasets provide a valuable means by which events or occurrences (such as disease, crimes, customer residence etc.) can be allocated from a postcode to another area such as an electoral ward or health area.

How to download boundary data

View our video tutorial on how to download boundary data offering a range of digitised boundary data including boundaries designed for use with census data in several GIS geographic information system formats.


Further reading

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.

Census2011Geog project

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.

Census flow data online guide

What are flow data?

Flow data (sometimes called interaction or mobility data) involve flows of individuals in the UK between origins and destinations.

These flows are either the residential migrations of individuals from one place of usual residence to another or of commuters making journeys from home to workplace.

Census flow data are derived from the questions on the census form relating to place of usual residence one year ago, the place of work for the respondent’s main job and, from 2011, if a respondent spends more than 30 days a year at a second address. These flow data are currently available at a range of different spatial scales for the 1981, 1991, 2001, and 2011 Censuses.

As flow data feature both a start and end point, this means that tables are often much larger and more complex than for other census data. For example, a cross-tabulation that showed the counts of migration flows from all of the 8850 Census Area Statistics (CAS) wards in England and Wales in 2001 to all others, would create an origin-destination table with 78,322,500 cells. A similar table for 2001 Output Areas would have 30,777,088,356 cells, the vast majority of which would contain zeros!


What can flow data tell us?

Flow data are of unique significance as they tell us not only where individuals are moving and commuting from and to, but also some of the characteristics of these people.

Data on migration can tell us how the numbers and characteristics of populations are changing in different locations – information of vital importance for central and local government planning for health, education, housing and other key services.

As well as informing us about area specific patterns, migration data from the census are also able to tell us, for example, the movement propensities of different ethnic, age, gender, socio-economic and family status groups in the UK, allowing us to explore the socio-spatial evolution of different sections of society. Similarly, flow data on commuters to work can reveal not just the characteristics of different commuters but also the locations that these commuters travel to and from, the distances involved, as well as their preferred method of transport.

Furthermore, the time-series of flow data available digitally from the last four censuses can tell us how these migration and commuting patterns have changed over time. The map below illustrates the flows of in-migrants to Cardiff in the 12 month period before the 1991 Census from other districts in South Wales, from other counties in the rest of Wales, from other regions in the UK, from Eire and from the rest of the world.

Migration to Cardiff (1991 SMS Set 2, Table 1)

1991 Census Special Migration Statistics, Crown Copyright

Using the WICID data extraction facility, it is possible to select data for a range of different origin and destination geographies (which do not need to match) for any areas in the UK.

Researchers interested in local and national patterns of student migration to higher education institutions, for example, would be able to obtain data that provides counts of all males aged 18-24 who moved into the University ward in Leeds from other wards in the Leeds Metropolitan District, from other districts in West Yorkshire and from other regions in the UK, in 2001.


Obtaining census flow data

The UK Data Service facilitates access to the interaction data for members of UK Higher Education institutions. Access is provided through WICID – the Web-based Interface to Census Interaction Data.

Access is free to all registered users, with WICID enabling users to download customised data in a number of different formats. For users who are unfamiliar with the WICID interface, the website provides links to tutorials and training materials. Access to a library of common queries is also available, which enables users to download data quickly without the need to go through the query building process.

What data are available?

Currently WICID provides access to data from the 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011 Censuses. It is also possible to access other non-census flow datasets such as a time-series of post-2001 migration flows derived from NHS patient registers. The entirety of 2011 Census open and safeguarded data has been added with more than 220 tables currently being available. Access to the 2011 datasets is either public or safeguarded depending on the level of geography and variables.

Public datasets are open to any users via Open Government Licence (OGL) without the need to register or login. Safeguarded datasets are available via UKDS to members of academia, local and central government, NHS, and UK parliaments and assemblies via End User Licence (EUL) and user will need to have an active institutional account to be granted access.

The datasets currently held include:

Census migration datasets

2011 Census: Special Migration Statistics (Local Authority District, Ward and Output Area level)
2001 Census: Special Migration Statistics (Levels 1, 2 & 3 + Level 2 Scotland Postal Sectors). Migration data at District, Ward, Scottish Postal Sector and Output Area level
1991 Census: Special Migration Statistics (Sets 1 [including re-estimation for 2001 boundaries] & 2, MIGPOP, SMSGAPS and SAS LBS Table 100 A & B). Migration data at Ward and District level; Ward level re-estimations for 2001 geographies
1981 Census: Special Migration Statistics (Set C and 1981 county/regional Geography). Ward level migration data re-estimated for 1991 and 2001 boundaries. County/region level data for 1981

Census commuting datasets

2011 Census: Special Workplace Statistics (Local Authority districts, Middle-Layer Super Output Area, Intermediate Zone for Scotland, Workplace Zone for England and Wales, and Output Area level)
2001 Census: Special Workplace Statistics (Levels 1, 2 & 3). Commuting data at District, Ward and Output Area scales
2001 Census: Special Travel Statistics (Level 1, 2 & 3 + Level 2 Scotland Postal Sectors). Commuting data for Scotland at Council Area, Ward, Postal Sector and Output Area Scales
1991 Census: Special Workplace Statistics (Sets A, B and C [including modified set Cs]). Commuting data by residence (A) Workplace (B) and within & between wards (C) for 1991 and 2001 boundaries
1981 Census: Special Workplace Statistics (Set C and 1981 county/ regional Geography). Ward-level migration data re-estimated for 1991 and 2001 boundaries. County/region level data for 1981

Variables that can be selected from these datasets may include:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Family status of migrant
  • Ethnic group
  • Whether suffering limiting long-term illness
  • Whether in household
  • Economic activity
  • Moving groups
  • Moving groups by tenure
  • Moving groups by NS-SEC of group reference person
  • Migrants in Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland with some knowledge of Gaelic/Welsh/Irish
  • Living arrangements
  • Method of travel to work.

Further reading

Champion, T. (2005) ‘Population movement within the UK’, in R. Chappell (ed.) Focus On People and Migration, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 92-114.

Champion, T. and Coombes, M. (2007) ‘Using the 2001 Census to study human capital movements affecting Britain’s larger cities: insights and issues’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A (Statistics in Society), 170(2): 1-20.

Champion, T., Coombes, M., Raybould, S. and Wymer, C. (2007) Migration and Socio-economic Change: A 2001 Census Analysis of Britain’s Larger Cities, Bristol: The Policy Press.

Dennett, A. and Stillwell, J. (2011) ‘A new area classification for understanding internal migration in Britain.’ Population Trends, 145: 146-171.

Dennett, A. and Stillwell, J. (2010) ‘Internal migration in Britain, 2000-01, examined through an area classification framework.’ Population Space and Place, 16(6): 517–538.

Duke-Williams, O. (2000) Designing zoning systems for flow data, In Atkinson, P amd Martin, D. (eds.) GIS and GeoComputation: Innovations in GIS 7, London: Taylor and Francis, pp. 115-134.

Fielding, T. (2012) ‘Migration in Britain Paradoxes of the Present, Prospects for the Future, Cheltenham: Elgar.

Rees, P. and Duke-Williams, O. (1995) The story of the British Special Migration Statistics, Scottish Geographical Magazine, 111 (1):13-26.

Rees, P., Thomas, F., and Duke-Williams, O. (2002) ‘Migration data from the Census’ in P. Rees, D. Martin, and P. Williamson (eds.) The Census Data System, London: Wiley, pp. 245-268.

Stillwell, J. (2006) Providing access to census-based interaction data in the UK: that’s WICID, The Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, 4(4): 63-68.

Stillwell, J. (2006) Using WICID (Web-based Interface to Census Interaction Data) in the classroom, The Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, 4(6):106-111.

Stillwell, J., Duke-Williams, O. and Dennett, A. (eds.) (2010) Technologies for Migration and Commuting Analysis: Spatial Interaction Data Applications. Hershey: IGI Global.

Census microdata guide

What are census microdata?

Census microdata are datasets containing random samples of anonymous individual records. Because of this structure, they were previously known as Samples of Anonymised Records or (SARs), this term is still in the name of the 1991 and 2001 files.

Each file contains a broad range of socio-demographic characteristics for respondents, with a particular emphasis on either individual, household, or geographical detail.

Downloadable files are designed to ensure that sample members cannot be identified. In order to achieve this confidentiality, the amount of detail available is restricted to a non-disclosive level and individual respondents only appear in one file. Although such measures are taken, the data still look like that which might be collected if you were to conduct a survey yourself, and can be analysed in the same way. The data are particularly well suited to analysis in a statistical package like SPSS, Stata or R.

The census microdata hold the further advantage of much larger sample sizes than are typical in alternative survey data sources. For example, the 2011 Safeguarded Individual file is a 5% sample containing nearly three million cases. The largest files, the 2011 secure file for England and Wales contain over five million cases each, however these need to be accessed in a secure setting.

The term census microdata has been adopted to describe data for a single point in time. This contrasts with other individual level (or microdata) census products such as the Office for National Statistics, ONS Longitudinal Study (LS), which links individual data records over time. However, unlike the LS, most SARs files can be downloaded and used at your own place of work rather than requiring access from a safe setting.


What can the census microdata tell us?

Microdata files enable researchers to analyse data in a very flexible manner. This enables users to:

  • apply their own definitions and create new variables
  • define tables
  • work with sub-populations
  • conduct multivariate analyses.

Because the files are very large, they also permit analyses of relatively small sub-populations for which it is often difficult to obtain sufficient sample sizes in other survey data. Consequently, a major use of the census microdata has been for the analysis of individual ethnic groups.

Find out more from get census microdata and download the topics available in each microdata file (Excel).


Obtaining 2011 data

Files for 2011 are available in a range of forms.

Open Teaching Data

Open Government Licence Teaching files are 1% samples containing simple key variables. They are downloadable in csv format from:

The England and Wales (SN 7613), Scotland (SN 8002), and Northern Ireland (SN 8133) teaching files are also available in Nesstar, SPSS and Stata format via the UK Data Service without registration.

Safeguarded Data available under licence

Each census office has produced two files. Each is a 5% sample of cases:

  • A regional file with enhanced detail on socio-economic classifications like age and country of birth.
  • A file with less detail on age and country of birth, but with more geography. Local authorities with populations above 120,000 are distinguished, while smaller authorities are grouped with a neighbour.

These files are restricted to users who have agreed to some data management conditions to ensure that the confidentiality of respondents is protected.

More information about each file is available through the appropriate catalogue record as outlined on get census microdata.

Secure data

Access to these data are tightly controlled as they contain additional detail which means that they are deemed to be personal under the auspices of the Statistics and Registration Act. While the data are still anonymous, they do contain full local authority detail, full age, full country of birth.

Additionally, sample sizes are larger than their equivalent safeguarded data. In 2001 the files were 5% samples. In 2011 the files were 10% samples. No similar file was released for 1991.

There is no current plan to make secure data available from the UK Data Service. Instead users will be able to access these data through the Secure Research Service. The data are available for England and Wales (at Office for National Statistics), Northern Ireland (at NISRA) and Scotland (at NRS).

Users who wish to use these data will need to contact the relevant census office.

Obtaining 2001 data

The 2001 Individual SAR

The 2001 Individual SAR is a good all-round easy to access file with considerable individual level detail, allowing comparisons between UK countries and regions. For example, Popham (2006) used this file to demonstrate how Scotland’s higher levels of ill health, compared to England, can largely be explained through differences in employment and socio-economic position.

The 2001 SAM

The accompanying map is based on data from the SAM and illustrates the proportion of residents in London boroughs who are working age males with a professional qualification.

The 2001 SAM enables analyses to be undertaken at the local authority level. This level of geography enables mapping, local level tabulations, and multivariate analyses including local area level variables. These data differ from aggregate outputs such as the Census Area Statistics in that users can look at individual level characteristics within areas and define area level measures of their own choice.

Users can define and use subsets and can create new classifications by grouping existing classifications or combining information from more than one socio-economic characteristic. The accompanying map is based on data from the SAM and illustrates the proportion of residents in London boroughs who are working age males with a professional qualification.


Further reading

Li, Y (2004), Samples of Anonymised Records (SARs) from the UK censuses: A Unique source for social science research, Sociology, 38 (3): 553-572.

Popham, F. (2006) Is there a ‘Scottish effect’ for self reports of health? Individual level analysis of the 2001 UK census [computer file], BMC Public Health, 6: 191

Mapping 2011 Census microdata using R

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).

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).

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.

UK Data Service case studies

See case studies related to the census.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2011 Census analysis

Detailed analyses of census data on a variety of topics.

Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE)

Briefing documents on the Dynamics of Diversity series evidence from the 2011 Census.

Migration Observatory

The Migration Observatory is making migration-related 2011 Census data available through a suite of outputs.