Role Of The Census In Making Up The Uk Population

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Role Of The Census In Making Up The Uk Population

Role Of The Census In Making Up The Uk Population

Coincident full censuses have taken place in the different jurisdictions of the United Kingdom every ten years since 1801 with the exceptions of 1941 (during the Second World War) and in Ireland in 1921; simultaneous censuses were taken in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man with the returns being archived with those of England. In addition to providing a wealth of interesting information about aspects of the make-up of the country, the results of the census play an important part in the calculation of resource allocation to regional and local service providers, by governments in the United Kingdom and European Union levels.

In the 7th century, Dál Riata (parts of what is now Scotland and Northern Ireland) was the first territory in what is now the UK to conduct a census, with what was called the "Tradition of the Men of Alba" (Senchus fer n-Alban). England took its first Census when the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086 for tax purposes.

Distinct from earlier censuses with lesser inclusion (e.g. for religious purposes) national decennial censuses of the general populations in the UK started in 1801 (championed by John Rickman who managed the first four up to 1831), partly to ascertain the number of men able to fight in the Napoleonic wars, and partly over concerns stemming from An Essay on the Principle of Population by Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus (1798). Rickman's 12 reasons - set out in 1798 and repeated in Parliamentary debates - for conducting a UK census included the following justifications:

'the intimate knowledge of any country must form the rational basis of legislation and diplomacy'

'an industrious population is the basic power and resource of any nation, and therefore its size needs to be known'

'the number of men who were required for conscription to the militia in different areas should reflect the area's population'

'there were defence reasons for wanting to know the number of seamen'

'the need to plan the production of corn and thus to know the number of people who had to be fed'

'a census would indicate the Government's intention to promote the public good' and

'the life insurance industry would be stimulated by the results.'

Regular national censuses have taken place every ten years since 1801, most recently in 2001 (see United Kingdom Census 2001); other partial censuses have been made on some the intervening fifth anniversaries. The first four censuses (1801-1831) were mainly statistical. That is, mainly headcounts that contained virtually no personal information. A small number of older records exist in local record offices as by-products of the notes made by enumerators in the production of those earlier censuses, these might list all persons or just the heads of households. The 1841 Census was the first to intentionally record names of all individuals in a household or institution.

In 1920 the Census Act 1920 was passed, which has provided ...