Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


Book now for 2011 Census

The Registrar General for Scotland is already seeking views on proposals for the 2011 Census.

Censuses are traditionally held every 10 years – the next one would therefore be due in 2011, though a final decision need not be taken until later in the decade. But initial preparations have already begun and the General Register Office for Scotland – which is responsible for running the Census – has issued a consultation document which:

Looks at the lessons learnt from the 2001 Census;
Gives an outline of plans for the 2011 Census, including the key aims and principles; and
Describes the proposed Census Test in 2006, which is an important stepping stone to 2011.
The 2001 Census met its key objectives and gave better and more accessible statistics about Scotland and its people. But there are lessons which can help planning for 2011:

The response rate – at 96 per cent – was satisfactory, but less than in 1991. Plans for 2011 include ways of encouraging a higher response rate – such as getting a better address list for the distribution of Census forms;
There was insufficient time between the 1997 Census test and the actual Census in 2001 – so an extra year is being allowed in this cycle;
Blind people did not find it easy to complete the Census form – so the design will be changed.
The outline plan for the 2011 Census takes account of the fact that people in Scotland are becoming more mobile and their living patterns more complex. This creates problems for data collection and for the publication of meaningful Census results. Special attention has therefore been given to obtaining information about people with more than one address. The effort of Census enumerators will be targeted on people who find it hard to complete the Census form and on parts of Scotland with the poorest response rate.

The Census Test is planned for April 2006. It is proposed to hold the test in three areas – inner Glasgow, part of Dunbartonshire and a rural area including parts of Highland, Argyll & Bute, Stirling and Perth & Kinross Council areas. These areas have been chosen because of the difficulty of carrying out the Census there – for instance because of rural second homes. The test will trial new questions, a new design of form and new ways of carrying out the fieldwork.

At the same time as planning for the 2011 Census, the General Register Office for Scotland is working on other ways of getting accurate and more frequent population statistics – for instance, by using information from other surveys and from administrative sources such as school rolls and vehicle registrations.

Announcing the publication of the consultation document, Registrar General Duncan Macniven said:

“We take a Census only once every 10 years, so it is important to get it right. We need help from people who complete Census forms, and from people who use the Census data, to make sure that we ask the right questions in a way that is easy to answer.

“This consultation is the very start of the process – before any plans have been set. We want opinions on all aspects of the Census and we are very happy to discuss them with any group who may be able to help”.

The consultation document is available on the GROS website ( or by post from: Customer Services, General Register Office for Scotland, Ladywell House, Ladywell Road, Edinburgh, EH12 7TF. Telephone: 0131 314 4243; Facsimile: 0131 314 4696 or E-mail:

Responses to the consultation are invited by the end of February.

Responses will be published on the GROS website in March. This consultation is the first step in a process which will continue throughout the period of preparation for the Census.

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