About the census
The census has collected information about the population every 10 years since 1801 (except in 1941 when no census was taken due to the Second World War). It is widely acknowledged as playing a fundamental and unique role in the provision of comprehensive and robust population statistics. Census information is needed to help government develop policies and initiatives, for local authorities to plan services and to make effective use of resources that benefit the people of Scotland.
Key users of census information include both central and local government, academia, organisations undertaking research, the private, business and voluntary sectors, and the general public.
Detailed statistics from the census describe the characteristics of an area, such as how many men and women there are and their ages, ethnic group, education level and a broad range of other characteristics. The statistics provide a rich picture of Scotland’s population by understanding the similarities and differences in the population’s characteristics locally and nationally. This information underpins the allocation of billions of pounds of public money each year to provide services like education, transport and health.
Decisions are taken every day using census statistics. For example, the numbers of school spaces, houses, care homes, hospitals and fire services are all influenced by the census.