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Counting and Estimating the hard to count population in the 2011 UK Census
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Owen Abbott, Office for National Statistics 
*Garnett Compton, Office for National Statistics 

Keywords: census, population, PES

The design for the 2011 UK Census focused on improved methods for both counting and estimating the population of the UK. A series of measures were put in place to address the challenging enumeration of the hard to count population. These included language support, increased allocation of resources to such areas and a large program of local community liaison. However, despite these efforts, it was recognised that the census will not count everyone and therefore a post-enumeration survey (PES) to measure coverage was required. For the UK, the PES and the subsequent estimation process was an integral part of the strategy to measure the hard to count population. There was a close link between the statistical and field methodology decisions, balancing the allocation of resources between easy and hard to count populations, where the objective was to maximise the quality of the estimates of the total population.

The first results from the 2011 UK Census are due to be released in July 2012, and therefore we will be able to present the results from the Census enumeration and the measurement of the population through the PES. This will include the extent and patterns of undercount, and we will be able to highlight the hardest to reach populations at local and national levels, which are estimated through the PES. We will also be able to report on the process of Quality Assuring those estimates, and any resulting findings and adjustments.

The paper will also discuss important outcomes and lessons from the enumeration and coverage process for the 2011 Census that will feed into the future development of UK population statistics, including our early thinking on how any alternative model will address the hard to count populations.

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