Tuesday, May 24, 2005

UK 2001 Census - on Ethnicity and Religion

It only comes round once a decade, so it's an invaluable marker of how the UK is changing, or, perhaps, of how people in the UK are changing how they define themselves. In one section, Len Cook, the UK's National Statistician, acknowledges that ethnic definitions are by no means static, and:

recognises the substantial complexities surrounding the classification of ethnic identity. The challenge he sees is to balance several different objectives:

- comparability between the Census and other data sources;

- capturing the increasing diversity of ethnicity due to inter-ethnic family formation and migration patterns;

- consistency over time to facilitate analysis of trends and policy impacts over the very long term.

He recognises the tension between the need for continuing work to develop our understanding of the changing nature of ethnicity, and the need to fix the classifications at some point (e.g. at Census time) to enable consistency of reporting and comparability with the Census. These considerations are set within a social and political framework of considerable interest in equal opportunities and in issues of national identity.


The National Statistician also sees a clear need for research to further enhance the National Statistics understanding of and approach to classifying ethnicity and related concepts.

For further information on the research that the Office for National Statistics is conducting, contact Ethnicity&Identity@ONS.gov.uk Link


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