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Dwelling number

  • Mnemonic reference


  • Applicability


  • Type

    Derived variable


A household space is the accommodation occupied by an individual household or, if unoccupied, available for an individual household. An unshared dwelling is defined as a self-contained unit of accommodation of one household space. A self-contained unit of accommodation means that all rooms, including the kitchen, bathroom and toilet are behind a door that only that household can use.

Shared dwellings are defined as containing two or more household spaces which are not self contained.

In most cases, a household space counts as one unshared dwelling.  Household spaces at the same address may be grouped into one shared dwelling depending on their accommodation type and response to the self-contained question.


Total number of categories 2

Code Name
0 Unshared dwelling
>0 Shared dwelling

Source question or variables

ENUMPC (Primary variable)

ETHNIC_19S (Primary variable)

PLREASON (Primary variable)

SELFCON (Primary variable)

TYPACCOM (Primary variable)

ADDRESS1 (Primary variable)

ADDRESS2 (Primary variable)

ADDRESS3 (Primary variable)

FORMATTED STREET (Geography address file)

Known Quality Issues

An address matching technique identified households completing separate census forms, who live at the same address. A subset of these are possible shared dwellings depending on the accommodation type and whether the households had responded that they were self contained. For all accommodation types other than ‘part of a converted or shared house (including bed-sits)' there had to be at least two households that indicated that the household’s accommodation was not self-contained. However, if a household indicated that they were not self-contained and the accommodation type was ‘part of a converted or shared house (including bed-sits)’, it was only necessary for there to be at least one other household at that address with the same accommodation type (regardless of whether this household was self-contained). This process resulted in a list of potential households living in shared dwellings.  Manual checking revealed that inconsistencies in the formats of the address database had caused some households to be incorrectly determined to be living in shared dwellings.  A decision was made to only include households which had either stated that their home was not self contained, or were living in accommodation type ‘part of a converted or shared house (including bed-sits)’.

Visual examination of census forms suggests that the question relating to whether a household was self-contained was poorly understood. For example, a detached house containing one family (and therefore only one household) indicated that their accommodation was not self-contained (perhaps literally interpreting the question as to whether all rooms had a door or that all doors were only used by that household). This may have led to households being incorrectly classified as shared dwellings.

It is also possible that there are shared dwellings that have not been included due to the enumerators being unsure whether a property is part of a communal establishment or a shared dwelling. Students who are more likely to live in a shared dwelling may also have been missed as census day occurred during some educational holidays.

Consistency over time is also an issue. Earlier census results determined which households were in shared dwellings by different methods. In 1991, the enumerator determined the accommodation type (which could be altered by the form filler) and there was a more detailed question on being self contained which was only to be completed if the accommodation type was ‘part of a converted or shared house, bungalow or flat’. In 2001, there was a question on whether there was a shared toilet and bath/shower (in addition to the self-contained question) but the enumerator did not determine the accommodation type. Over time there has therefore been less detailed information to determine if a household is in a shared dwelling.

The number of shared dwellings in Scotland has decreased from 665 in 2001 to 467 in 2011, part of this decrease is due to two communal establishments being incorrectly classified in 2001.  This is a larger decrease than that experienced by England and Wales.