This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Will There be a 2012 Census in the UK?

Here at the British Society for Population Studies meetings in Nottingham, a big topic is the 2011 census, the results of which are just now being rolled out (although Scotland has not yet announced any results for that part of the UK). A plenary session today featured Glen Watson, who is Director of the Census at the Office of National Statistics (ONS), and has done such a good job there that he has just been named Director General of the ONS. Some time ago I commented on a news story from the UK questioning the future of the census. I think I can confidently say that every person at today's session is convinced of the value of and need for the census, but it was pointed out that this census cost 35 percent more than the previous one, despite the fact that 9 million of the 56 million UK residents were counted by entering data on a secure website, rather than filling out a paper form. Indeed, cost is the only real issue when it comes to the census, but it is not entirely clear how the high quality data from the census could be generated in any other way, so we will have to wait and see about the fate of the UK census. It isn't dead yet.

The 2011 census did reveal that there were more immigrants in the country than the government had previously estimated. Possible explanations from Danny Dorling at the University of Sheffield included the likelihood that outmigration had been less than expected because in this global recession people have no where else to go, and also that there may be thousands of people who now live both in the UK and somewhere else, and may well be counted both places. As he noted, you can't find this stuff out without a census.

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