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.

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.

Aggregate Data

Boundary Data

News

First release of Census 2021 data for England and Wales

First release of the Census 2021 for Northern Ireland

Further Northern Ireland Census data released

See our explainers for more information on the migration and deprivation data

Supporting documentation and additional datasets

Training and events

Census 2021 variable explainers

Supporting geographic datasets – lookups, population weighted centroids

Guidance on data types

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 data sets from older censuses.

The data sets are broadly divided by the type of data: aggregate data (themost commonly used data, the numbers of people with certaincharacteristics), flow data (a form of aggregate data about peoplemoving between locations), microdata (samples of individual records,with identifying variables removed), and boundary data (allowing maps tobe drawn and other forms of spatial analysis to be conducted).

Aggregate data

Boundary data 1971 – 2011

Flow data

Microdata

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).

Census 1851 – 1911

The UK Data Service also provides access to individual level historiccensus records that have been released under the ‘hundred year rule’;these data are supported by the I-CeM project.

Explore

Access

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 explainers

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

Other information

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.