Census Transformation Programme

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The aim of the Census Transformation Programme is to make the best use of all available data in England and Wales to enhance the provision of population statistics. It will provide a predominately online census in 2021, it will seek to increase the use of administrative data to enhance population statistics, and it will form plans for the provision of population statistics after 2021.

The three major strands of concurrent work in the Census Transformation Programme are:
1. An online census
The programme will provide a predominantly online census of all households and communal establishments in England and Wales in 2021 with special care taken to support those who are unable to complete the census online. This will look at how we run the 2021 Census data collection operation and its coverage survey (including the address register, field force, online/paper data collection, public support and enumeration of communal establishments).
2. Administrative data
The programme will increase the use of administrative data and surveys in order to enhance the statistics from the 2021 Census and improve annual statistics between censuses. This will look at how we integrate census and administrative and survey data to provide and disseminate census outputs.
3. Plans beyond 2021
The programme will decide how we provide these statistics after the 2021 Census.

This community is for all posts relating to the census and the wider remit of the Census Transformation Programme.

1.  Religion - matching NI to EW

Posted 04-04-2013 12:03
Hi Everyone

Can anyone point me to any documentation that tells me how I can match up the religion in EW with NI?
specifically does the sum of
KS211NI0002 Religion: Catholic
KS211NI0003 Religion: Presbyterian Church in Ireland
KS211NI0004 Religion: Church of Ireland
KS211NI0005 Religion: Methodist Church in Ireland
KS211NI0006 Religion: Other Christian (including Christian related)

match to
KS209EW0002 Christian

I guess this is really about the "including christian related"  - are they "christian" in EW, so i can match, or are they "other religion" so I can't?

2.  RE:Religion - matching NI to EW

Posted 05-04-2013 10:27
'Christian' isn't broken down at all in the EW Census (people weren't asked to specify), but religions included under 'Other religions' are listed by name in the 'detailed' religion table (KS210EW).  If there's a comparable detailed table for the NI results, you could see if the Christian-related religions are included under 'Other religions' for EW or not.  You would then need to assume that people just ticked Christian for those religions, so not sure it will give you a definitive answer, but might help... 


3.  RE:Religion - matching NI to EW

Posted 09-04-2013 11:43

At a minimum you'll need to be very careful about this, but my view is that you really can't match up religion definitions between the different UK countries at all because the questions are asked so differently.

I'm more familiar with the EW / Scotland comparison than the Northern Irish one, but I think there will be similar issues for NI. Here's one of the intra-GB issues.

In 2001 (nothing significant has changed since 2001 in the ways the questions are asked) there were far more people classified as having no religion in Scotland (27.5%) than there were in England and Wales (14.8%). This doesn't reflect any underlying difference in distribution of religious beliefs, but happened mainly because the Scottish questionnaire demanded that Christians specify what kind of Christian they were, while the EW questionnaire did not. So people who regarded themselves as being Christian in a vague sort of way but had no affiliation to any church could easily respond 'Christian' in England or Wales, but the Scottish request for specification of a kind of Christianity might push the same person to respond 'no religion' were they to fill in a Scottish form.

The net result is that 'no religion' in Scotland isn't comparable to 'no religion' in England and Wales. It would have been nice to have had a bit more harmonisation of the religion question in 2011, but it didn't happen, so any comparison of religion across countries might be very dubious.

The difference between the Northern Irish question and the E&W question looks much greater than the difference between the Scottish question and the E&W question.


4.  RE:Religion - matching NI to EW

Posted 10-04-2013 10:35
"... the Scottish questionnaire demanded that Christians specify what kind of Christian they were, while the EW questionnaire did not."

This may well be part of the reason for the high proportion of people in Scotland with "no religion". However, another important factor is likely to be that, in 2001, the Scottish census had two religion questions - current religion, and religion of upbringing.

So, people with a loose affiliation (to any religion - not just Christianity) may have used the opportunity to give different answers for these questions. And whilst, as you noted, 27.5% of Scots stated that they currently had no religion, only 17.5% stated that they were not brought up in any religion.

For 2011, Scotland switched to a single question only ("What religion, religious denomination or body 
do you belong to?"). NI however retained two questions.

5.  RE:Religion - matching NI to EW

Posted 12-04-2013 08:49

Thanks everyone - really useful insight - I had hoped for a simple answer, though suspected it would be complicated!

6.  RE: Religion - matching NI to EW

Posted 28-04-2016 13:08

There's a deeper problem with comparing EW both with NI and Scotland. The questions are different as between EW and the others, which use the word "body" and then have tickboxes for individual denominations. I would argue that in NI/S this concentrates people's minds to think of their actual involvement, whereas in EW it is easy to tick Christian in an unthinking way. Hence the apparent proportion stating No Religion is far higher in S at 37.5% (excluding 5 "ethnic" religions which skew the figures) than E at 26.8%. But is this a real difference in religiosity?

Having asked this, E and W are comparable and the figure for W is much higher at 32.7%. At LA level there is huge variation, from 44.2% down to only 12.7%.

NI gives religion by country of birth. While both E and W show NR %s very close to those above, in the case of S-born the % in NI is 26.3, or 11 points lower than in the birth country. Why should S stand out so much?

Peter Mitchell