The Future of the Census

From Rosemary Bailey

This article was published in the April 2014 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society

We all use the census when studying our family history and are aware of the problems of collecting data for the last few censuses. Following a consultation with users including, by the sounds of it, family historians The National Statistician, Jill Matheson, has made the following recommendation on the way forward for census and population statistics:

· An online census of all households and communal establishments in England and Wales in 2021 as a modern successor to the traditional, paper-based decennial census. ONS recognises that special care would need to be taken to support those who are unable to complete the census online.

This would be combined with:

· Increased use of administrative data and surveys in order to enhance the statistics from the 2021 Census and improve annual statistics between censuses.

· Together these would make the best use of all available data to provide the population statistics which England and Wales require and offer a springboard to the greater use of administrative data and annual surveys in the future.

· Further research is to be carried out over the coming months and years to determine the most appropriate blend of methods and data sources.