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Census Geography

The UK Censuses

The UK Census, undertaken every ten years with the most recent being on 27 March 2011, collects population and other statistics essential to those who have to plan and allocate resources.

Major customers include departments of national and local government, and providers of services such as health and education.

Although the Census occurs simultaneously in all parts of the UK, the responsible body in England and Wales is the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in Scotland the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and in Northern Ireland the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA).

The main geographies directly associated with the Census are output areas (OA) and super output areas (SOA).  Output areas are the base unit for Census data releases.

Census data can be produced for most geographies by best-fitting from output area to the required output geography current on 31 December 2011.

Further information / Census geography products

ONS offers a range of 2011 Census geography products for England and Wales including:

  • Digital boundaries and centroids, for output areas and super output areas, which users can use in their own geographical information systems to carry out spatial analysis or web mapping.

  • Lookup tables showing output area aggregation to higher geographies, and comparison between 2001 and 2011 statistical geographies.

  •  Reference (outline) pdf maps showing the areas used to present Census statistics

For further information contact ONS Geography or visit the web page '2011 Census geography products for England and Wales'.

For information regarding the Census products for Scotland and Northern Ireland please refer to the relevant organisation.

  • Built-up areas / Built-up area sub-divisions

    Built-up areas and built-up area sub-divisions are a new geography, created as part of the 2011 Census outputs.

  • Enumeration districts (EDs)

    Households in England and Wales received their 2011 Census questionnaire through the post and returned them by post or online . Only communal establishments, for example, care homes, and special groups (such as travellers) had their Census questionnaires hand delivered. Individuals within communal establishments also had the option of completing their questionnaire online following the same process as that used by households. There was no requirement to produce a set of 2011 enumeration districts but ED were used for data collection for the 2001 Census and for data collection and outputs for the 1991 Census.

  • Output areas (OAs)

    OA have been used for data collection and output of Census data since the 2001 Census

  • Statistical wards, CAS wards and ST wards

    Information on statistical wards, CAS wards and ST wards

  • Super output areas (SOAs)

    Super output areas are a geography designed to improve the reporting of small area statistics

  • Workplace zones (WZs)

    A new output geography, workplace zones, was produced from the 2011 Census data. These zones are more suitable for disseminating workplace-based statistics and outputs.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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