Data themes: Census and population

Resources for researching census or population may include data from subscription databases, publicly available data portals or archived academic projects. Some suggestions are:

Annual Population Survey  
Began in 2004, aims to provide data that can produce reliable estimates at local authority level. Key topics covered in the survey include education, employment, health and ethnicity. The APS comprises key variables from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), all its associated LFS boosts and the APS boost sample.

Bodleian Libraries Official Papers collection: Census reports for the UK and Ireland 1801 – present
From 1801 the census has been published every ten years with the only exception being 1941, the census not being taken due to the Second World War. Up until 1911 the census returns were published as parliamentary papers and are accessible via the UK Parliamentary Papers database (SSO needed for remote access) or HISTPOP.

Between 1921-1991 the censuses were not published as Parliamentary Papers, these are found in the Official Papers reading room on open shelf. They are not available in digital format.

Census returns for 2001 onwards are available in digital format only, via the Office for National Statistics.

Please contact the Official Papers team ( for further assistance.

1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70)  
Originally known as the Child Health and Education Study (CHES), a longitudinal survey collecting data about the births and families of approximately eleven thousand babies born in the United Kingdom in one particular week in 1970. The collection includes data that is available under a variety of access conditions so some segments may require special permission.

The 2021 Census: initial view on content for England and Wales

Census Hub (Eurostat) 
Contains the 2011 Census database (the results of the Population and Housing Censuses in Europe), providing users with easy access to detailed census data that are structured in the same way and methodologically comparable between countries.

It should be noted that the census data disseminated here are not microdata; they are aggregated data structured according to the tables agreed with Member States and defined in the legal implementing rules for the census.

Continuous Household Survey  
Began in 1983, and is carried out by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). The survey aims to provide government departments with continuing information about population, housing, employment, education and health. As all the topics are covered in one survey, it is possible to examine not only each topic separately but also the interactions between them (e.g. the effects of poor housing conditions upon health).

Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) 
The DHS Program has collected, analysed, and disseminated accurate and representative data on population, health, HIV, and nutrition through more than 400 surveys in over 90 countries.

European Statistical System (ESS) microdata
The files released by Eurostat to be used for training purposes and analysis (data discovery). They should also allow researchers waiting for the access to scientific use files (SUF) to get an idea of what these scientific files contain and how they can be used.

Gateway to Global Aging Data 
A platform for population survey data on aging around the world.

Generations & Gender Programme 
Longitudinal survey of 18-79 year olds in 19 countries that aims to improve our understanding of the various factors which affect the relationships between parents and children (generations) and between partners (gender). A broad array of topics including fertility, partnership, the transition to adulthood, economic activity, care duties and attitudes are covered by the survey. Includes a separate contextual database that is organized around central topics closely linked to the program.

Integrated Census Microdata (I-CeM)  
Detailed information collected about everyone resident in Great Britain at each decennial census from 1851 to 1911. The data has been harmonised and standardised from original enumeration books. It has consistent geography over time and standardised coding schemes for many census variables. There are two versions available; including names and addresses and an anonymised aggregated version.

Harmonised international census data for social science and health research.

IPUMS TERRA (Integrated population and environmental data)
Integrates the world's population and environmental data, including population censuses and surveys; land cover information from remote sensing; climate records from weather stations; and land use records from statistical agencies. Currently includes over 80 countries.

Landscan Global Population Database
A population database that maps geographical distribution of a populace within cells of one-kilometre resolution over a 24 hour period. This allows assessment, estimation and visualisation of populations reacting to disease outbreaks, social upheaval or natural disasters. The modelling process uses sub-national level census counts and other data for each country combined with high resolution imagery analysis.

Access: extra username/password required for this resource. Check WebLearn for details.

National Population Census of China
The Sixth National Population Census of China Database (NPCC) provides access to data from the 2010 population census. This includes nationwide population data, as well as data from 31 provinces, centrally administered municipalities and 2872 county level units.

National Records of Scotland: Census
This site contains statistics and documentation relating to the three census returns in Scotland between 1991 and 2011. Statistics are available for administrative, health, electoral and other geographic areas.

Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
This is the principal source of official statistics and social research on Northern Ireland available to social scientists, policy makers and researchers. Thematic groupings of statistics include agriculture, fishing and forestry, crime and justice, labour market, and population and migration.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) for England and Wales
The ONS is the official site of the UK government for census and other government surveys. Visitors are able to search statistics by area, region or place. Browsing by themes such as agriculture, business and energy, children, economy and health is also available.

Office of the Registrar general and census commissioner, India
Official pages of the India government providing data on demography, economic activity, literacy and education, housing, urbanisation, fertility, mortality, scheduled castes and many other socio-cultural and demographic data. This covers the period from 1872 to 2011. Census 2011 will be the 15th National Census of the Country. This is a key source of primary data at the village, town and ward level.

Online Historical Population Reports (OHPR or Histpop)
The Online Historical Population Reports (OHPR) collection provides online access to the complete British population reports for Britain and Ireland from 1801 to 1937. It includes a wealth of textual and statistical material and provides an in-depth view of the economy, society (through births, deaths and marriages) and medicine during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is also popularly known as the Histpop project.

Oxford Institute of Population Ageing: Data

Collen Programme Data
The Collen Programme has developed interactive data visualization tools to help you explore key statistics on fertility. Please find below interactive graphic on international population statistics and specific country profiles for Sub Saharan Africa.

Global Ageing Survey (GLAS)
Contains interviews with 44,000 people aged 40-80 in 25 countries drawn from Asia, Americas, Europe and Africa carried out in 3 waves. It comprises cross comparative modules with HRS and SHARE on health and retirement, explores attitudes, expectations and behaviours towards later life and retirement, including financial planning for retirement.

Future of Retirement
A series of corporate reports produced for HSBC by the Institute.

Social Trends
A resource developed by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that draws together social and economic data from a wide range of sources. It paints a broad picture of UK society today and how it has been changing.

Statistics South Africa
Open data portal maintained by the government of South Africa to produce and co-ordinate statistics on its economy and citizens and to assist in evidence-based policy making. Data and publications based on a variety of census and survey sources are available and may be searched according to key themes, locations and indicators.

UK Data Service: Census data  
The UKDS holds a range of different data, such as aggregate data, flow (of people from place to place) data, microdata and boundary data, as well as data related to the census, such as Experian data and deprivation data.

All of the aggregate data and most of the flow and boundary data are available to anyone under the Open Government Licence. Census microdata has different access conditions depending on the dataset. UK census longitudinal data can be found at:

  • CeLSIUS: England and Wales (ONS LS);

  • SLS-DSU: Scotland (SLS);

  • NILS-RSU: Northern Ireland (NILS);

  • CALLS Hub: information on all three census longitudinal studies.

UK Parliamentary Papers database
All census reports published as Parliamentary Papers are available in this database.

UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA): Population division
Produces constantly updated demographic estimates and projections for all countries, including population databases, population datasets and data booklets.

United States Census Bureau
The official pages of the US government allowing data to be accessed according to topics such as population, economy, education, employment, housing, health, housing, international trade and population. Data may be downloaded or analysed using onsite geographic frameworks, mapping software and data visualisation tools. U.S. and World Population Clock.

World Population Prospects
Official UN population estimates and projections; the main results are presented in a series of Excel files displaying key demographic indicators for each development group, income group, region, sub-region and country or area for selected periods or dates within 1950-2100. A publication labelled Key findings and advance tables, which provide insights on the results of this latest revision, is also made available.

You can find further resources on this theme by using on Databases A-Z or SOLO and subject guides.

Recommendations for additions to these lists are always welcome. Please email the Bodleian Data Librarian with suggestions.