Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: UK Census Changes Discussed

After a census, every country takes some time to assess how things went and how they can improve. The UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) is exploring options to change the census in England and Wales through a program called ‘Beyond 2011’. I like to think of myself as progressive and a bit of a risk taker, but proposed changes to documents so at the heart of genealogy are unnerving.

ONS research has resulted in the view that there are two possible approaches to census-taking in the future. In late September, a public comment period was started to gauge reactions to these proposals:

·        a census once a decade - similar to the 2011 Census but primarily online; or
·        a census using existing administrative data and compulsory annual surveys.

“Both approaches would provide annual statistics about the size of the population, nationally and for local authorities, as we do currently. A census using existing data and annual surveys would provide statistics about population characteristics every year. An online census would provide more detailed statistics but only once a decade.” (ONS)

Various users will have different views on the approaches, depending on how they use the data, and ONS welcome input from anyone. They will accept comments until 13th December 2013. You can find the consultation documents and a link to the online questionnaire
If you look through the documents, especially supplement C2 –Summary of Uses of Census Information, you will see a nicely written and accurate summary of how genealogists use the censuses already in the public domain. However, I don’t find the sentence that says they will continue releasing the censuses through 2111 all that comforting. ONS seems to think I should not worry about the genealogy community one hundred years from now, but I do.

Please contact ONS at beyond2011@ons.gov.uk if you have any questions, comments or wish to discuss further.
Thanks to FFHS for forwarding the original release from ONS.

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