Census to reveal religious picture

BBC, Feb. 13, 2003
http://news.bbc.co.uk/

A comprehensive picture of the religious make-up of England and Wales is being revealed for the first time on Thursday with the publication of Census results for 2001.

The second phase of results from the Census is also expected to show the high number of carers who look after the sick or elderly in their homes.

The figures will include detailed breakdowns of race, religion, health, family and work among other statistics.

The latest figures from the £200m survey are due for release 1100 (GMT) on Thursday.

Jedi followers

They will show population, household and family make-up and how it is changing, including a picture of the health of the various nations.

Results for Scotland are being published separately. Northern Ireland’s data was revealed earlier this year.

One of the new questions included was to ask the religion of householders.

The answers will provide a break-down of Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and other faiths across England and Wales.

An Office for National Statistics (ONS) spokesman said a figure will also be put on the number of Star Wars fans who stated their faith as “Jedi” in the mistaken belief that if 10,000 did so it would be recognised as an official religion.

In Scotland, the latest Census figures are also expected to show the number of Gaelic speakers across the border has to below 60,000 for the first time.

One of the surprises is likely to be the number of people who act as carers for the elderly or sick – the census was the first ever to ask about unpaid care.

An ONS spokesman said: “We also asked specifically how many people provided 50 or more hours of unpaid care a week – effectively a full time job.

Quit UK

“We expect that to produce some very interesting results.”

Participants in England were asked 40 questions – 41 in Wales – on census day in April 2001.

Last September preliminary results revealed the UK population was just under 58,789,194 – 900,000 fewer than had been predicted.

Experts said the survey showed an estimated 600,000 people – many of them young men – had quit the UK to spend time abroad.

Plus it revealed the UK’s ageing populations, showing that those over 60 outnumbered the under 16s for the first time, with the number over 85 growing five-fold since 1951.

Registrar General for England and Wales, Len Cook, will give the details of the six main census topics.

Profiles for each of the 376 local council areas in England and Wales will also be published.

Crucial for spending

The ONS used a new technique to compile the census, creating one million fictional households to account for the homes missed by the form-filling sweep.

A complex mathematical formula was used to gauge how many people had been overlooked and where they were likely to live – which amounted to 2% of the final figure.

The census provided two billion segments of information which will be crucial for deciding how to spend £50bn of taxpayers’ money a year.

It will help planners decide where new schools or doctor’s surgeries must be built to cope with demand, among other things.

But the new results, plus the previous batch put out in September last year still only reveal less than 1% of the total information gathered.

Experts will now work on breaking it all down to smaller units about the size of local council electoral wards.

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