Every country needs basic information about its residents for long-term planning, investing and improving quality of life. The population census provides reliable and accurate information for the planning of crucial facilities such as healthcare, education, transport and employment, both on a national and local level. For instance, when investing in new schools there’s a need to forecast the number of pupils who are likely to need schools in an area, to ensure that they will be built in locations with an appropriate number of pupils.
Over the last 25 years the ESRC has funded the development of services providing researchers with access to data from the last five UK censuses - going back to 1971 – via specialist resources such as Casweb, InFuse and GeoConvert. These services have been incorporated into the UK Data Service Census Support, at the same time opening up many of the services to users outside the academic community including government analysts and practitioners.
The wide-ranging and open access to census data is unique and admired by researchers in other countries - providing huge amounts of data and enabling researchers to create a rich and reliable picture of UK society.