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The UK's largest digital collection of social sciences and population research data was home of the ESRC Census Programme, providing a one-stop gateway to data and support services allowing researchers in UK higher and further education to access the 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001 UK censuses.

These data were held and managed by a number of units across the country, which also provided other significant data and support of value to researchers using census data. The team at the UK Data Archive provided a user support service, registration and authentication services and maintained the programme's website. It also organised centralised outreach, including user workshops.

Data were made available to members of the academic community within the UK for the purposes of not-for-profit research or teaching or personal educational development. The Programme covered the full range of census data including:

  • aggregate data (Area statistics) for 1971 to 2001
  • National Statistics Postcode Directory
  • Experian demographic data
  • digitised boundary datasets for 1971 to 2001
  • interaction data (migration and commuting data) for 1981 to 2001
  • longitudinal data for England and Wales linked across the censuses from 1971 to 2001, along with related vital events information
  • longitudinal data for Scotland linked across the censuses from 1991 to 2001, along with related vital events and health information
  • longitudinal data for Northern Ireland was provided by the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study, based on 2001 census data linked with
  • birth and death registrations and demographic data derived from health registrations

Data were available free to academics via agreements with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Office for National Statistics (ONS), General Register Office for Scotland (GROS), Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and Ordnance Survey (OS).

The service has been incorporated into the UK Data Service

Archive contribution

The Census team at the UK Data Archive designed the web portal, the home of the Census Programme, based at the University of Essex. The team collected metadata from the various Data Support Units to provide searchable access to the census data and delivered a programme of workshops and materials to promote the use of the portal and census resources.

Principal Investigators: Kevin Schürer, Matthew Woollard
Funder: ESRC, Jisc
Dates: January 2006 - September 2012
Contact: UK Data Service