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Revisions: Population Estimates in 2004

On Thursday 8 July 2004 ONS will publish summary findings of the matching studies for Manchester and Westminster along with further work reviewing available population estimate evidence for all areas. Revised population estimates for mid-2001 and mid-2002 are due to be published together with the mid-2003 population estimates in late August 2004.

In view of the need to make further revisions to the 2001 and 2002 population estimates, it has been decided to postpone release of the revised historic population estimates for 1992 to 2000. These were scheduled for release in Spring 2004. Instead ONS will publish the revised historic series in mid September 2004. This series will be consistent with the population estimates due to be published in August 2004.

Actual publication dates for the mid-year population estimates and the revised historic series will be announced in Updates shortly. Release schedules for other population statistics will be announced in due course, again in Updates.

Background

In November last year, ONS announced a programme of studies to better inform population estimates during the years prior to the next Census in 2011 and to contribute to planning the next Census. The studies were originally intended to help ONS understand specific problems in different areas of the country. ONS selected nine local authorities for the 2004 study. Matching studies in Manchester and Westminster were then already underway; they involve research to match local authority administrative lists of addresses (such as Council Tax and Electoral Register) with address lists used for the Census.

Additionally, in accordance with usual practice, ONS has been reviewing the evidence available to it for all areas as indicated in the Department for Communities and Local Government consultation paper "Local Government Finance: Amending Reports for 2003/04 and 2004/05 Settlements". The purpose of the review this year is to determine whether there is enough evidence to justify any adjustments to the mid-2001 population estimates for specific areas, including the authorities selected for study in November 2003, in order to feed into production of the mid-year estimates for 2003 in August of this year.

The strategy adopted by ONS has been designed to enable a robust assessment of whether there are biases in the estimates, and then determine a methodology for adjusting the estimates if required.

Once these estimates are published, ONS will resume the forward-looking work of identifying ways in which population estimates can be improved in the future. In particular, ONS will investigate and assess the reliability of administrative sources to determine what scope there is for using them in population statistics.

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