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Published on 28 November 2003

Scotland's Census 2001 - Statistics for Inhabited Islands

Alan D Fleming

This paper present data from the 2001 Census of Population, as well as from earlier Censuses, on the inhabited islands of Scotland. It makes comparisons between individual islands groups and also compares the islands as a whole with Scotland.

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Table 1
Number of residents and households in all inhabited islands
Table 2a
Residents in island groups by gender, age group and whether Gaelic speakers
Table 2b
Residents in island groups by selected characteristics
Table 3
Percentage of residents by current religion
Table 4a
Households in island groups by various household types
Table 4b
Households in island groups by selected characteristics
Table 5
Percentage of residents by "daytime" location
Table 6
Persons who lived in the inhabited islands at Census time
Breakdown by location of address one year ago (number of persons)
Table 7
In-migrants to island groups and out-migrants from island groups
Breakdown by island group destination area (for in-migrants) and origin area (for out-migrants)
Table 8
In-migrants to island groups and out-migrants from island groups
Breakdown by origin area (for in-migrants) and destination area (for out-migrants)
Table 9
Various comparisons between the island groups and Scotland
for all residents and residents aged 16 and over (percentages)
Table 10
Various comparisons between the island groups and Scotland
for residents aged 16 to 74 (percentages)


Index A Islands with at least 1 resident in 2001 Census
Index B Islands with no residents in 2001 Census
Index Map Index for Maps
Map 1 Scottish Inhabited Islands - Map 1
Map 2 Scottish Inhabited Islands - Map 2
Map 3 Scottish Inhabited Islands - Map 3


In 2001, there were 96 inhabited islands in Scotland, including those joined to the mainland or to other islands by a bridge, causeway or ford. The 2001 Census found that their population totalled almost 100,000 - ranging from nearly 20,000 people living in Lewis and Harris to 1 person living on each of Innischonan, Sanda, Shuna (Luing) and Eilean Donnan. Since the 1991 Census, the population of the islands as a whole fell by 3 per cent, although there were 35 islands (including Skye and the mainland of Orkney) whose population increased. This paper gives more details of the people living on the inhabited islands of Scotland.

As statistics for individual islands could reveal details about individual people, the islands have been grouped into 54 'island groups' in 2001, each comprising one or more Census Output Areas (see Appendix at the rear of this paper, under 'Difference between "individual island" and "island group"). Because of their location, a small number of islands were included with parts of the mainland within an Output Area for the 2001 Census. There were some island groups which have sufficiently small numbers of people, that some statistics would not be meaningful. Therefore some statistics in this paper are presented for all island groups combined.


Number of residents and households on the islands (Table 1) - islands' share of the Scottish population going down

  • A total of 99,739 persons lived in the inhabited islands in 2001, representing 2.0 per cent of the population of Scotland.
  • The population on the islands in 2001 was 3 per cent lower than at the time of the 1991 Census (102,868). This contrasted with the small rise, of 1 per cent, in the Scottish population since 1991 (but note 'Comparisons with the 1991 Census' section in the Appendix).
  • In 2001, the islands contained a slightly lower proportion (2.0 per cent) of the Scottish population than in 1991 (2.1 per cent).
  • A total of 64 islands experienced a fall in population between 1991 and 2001, while the population of 35 islands increased over this period. Most of the islands whose populations increased were small. Of the 14 islands with populations over 1,000 people, only 4 of them (Mainland of Orkney, Skye, Arran and Great Cumbrae) increased their populations.
  • The most populous of the 96 islands in 2001 was Lewis and Harris with a population of 19,918, which was around 8 per cent fewer than in 1991 - a rather faster fall than for the islands as a whole.
Age and sex (Table2a)- islands' population older
  • In 2001, 21.4 per cent of islanders were of retirement age, compared with 18.6 per cent for Scotland.
  • The island groups which had the highest proportion of people of retirement age were Lismore (39.7 per cent) and Great Cumbrae (36.9 per cent) while Eigg (9.2 per cent) and Trondra (5.3 per cent) had the lowest.
  • The proportion of islanders of retirement age increased between 1991 and 2001, and increased more markedly for the islands than for Scotland.
  • The proportion of islands residents who were under 16 in 2001 was roughly the same as for Scotland (19.5 and 19.2 per cent, respectively). Within islands groups, this proportion varied from 10.4 per cent in Iona to 31.9 per cent in Vatersay.
  • The proportion under 16 in 2001 was lower than in 1991, both for Scotland and for the islands. It fell by 1.0 and 1.5 percentage points for Scotland and the islands, respectively.
  • On the islands, 49.2 per cent of residents in 2001 were male - slightly higher than the figure of 48.1 per cent for Scotland as a whole. There were 28 island groups that had more male residents than female, compared with 22 which had more females (4 island groups had the same number of each).
  • The proportion of male residents increased very slightly in Scotland between 1991 and 2001 but remained the same for the islands.
Marital status (Table 9) - fewer married people
  • In 2001, islanders were more likely than Scottish residents to be married, re-married or widowed but less likely to be single, separated or divorced.
  • The biggest change which took place between 1991 and 2001 was in the proportion of persons who were married. This fell by 9 and 6 percentage points for Scotland and for the islands, respectively.
Migration (Tables 6, 7 and 8) - more people moving out of than into the islands
  • Table 6 shows that, in 2001, 89.5 per cent of those resident on the islands lived at the same address at Census time as they had one year previously. This is slightly higher than the equivalent figure for Scotland of 88.4 per cent.
  • Among the island groups, the rate varied from 99.0 per cent in Muckle Roe, to 67.2 per cent in Iona.
  • A further 5.6 per cent of persons living in island groups at Census time had lived at a different address within the same island group one year before.
  • Tables 7 and 8 look at people who moved to or from the island groups in the year prior to Census date ("migrants"). The figures in these tables do not include those who moved within the same island group. Both tables show that while there were 4,293 people moving to addresses on the islands, significantly more (4,846) moved from addresses on the islands. While the figure of 4,293 includes a small number of persons (284) who lived outwith the United Kingdom one year before Census date, the figure of 4,846 does not include persons who moved from the islands to addresses outwith the United Kingdom, as such persons would not have completed a Census form.
  • Table 7 shows the net flows to and from each of the island groups. It can be seen that only two island groups gained more than 10 persons - Bute and Arran, which both gained around 100 people.
  • A total of nineteen island groups lost more than 10 persons. Those which lost the most people were Lewis and Harris and Mainland of Shetland, both of which had a net migration loss of more than 100 people. Since they were populous islands, however, this represented less than 1 per cent of their respective populations.
  • There were 21 island groups with populations of more than 500 in 2001. Among these, Unst had the highest level of out-migration in relation to its population (13 per cent) while Arran showed the highest in-migration relative to population (2 per cent).
  • Table 8 shows where migrants moved to or from (area of origin for "in-migrants" to the islands and area of destination for "out-migrants" from the islands). Overall, the Scottish mainland showed a net gain from the islands of 1,027 people.
  • Only 8 of the 29 Scottish "mainland local authority areas" showed a net loss to the islands, with the mainland of North Ayrshire showing the greatest loss of 95 people. Of the remaining 21 areas, those which showed the highest net gain from the islands were Glasgow City (+296) and the mainland of Highland (+217).
  • Just over 700 migrants moved from one island group to a different island group.
  • The islands experienced a net migration gain from the rest of the UK. A total of 1,310 islands residents had lived in England, Wales or Northern Ireland one year previously. This compared with 1,120 persons resident in the rest of the UK at Census time who had lived in the islands a year before - a net gain to the islands of 190 people.

Households and families

Household numbers (Table 1) - increased number of households

  • There were 43,327 households on the islands in 2001, an increase of 7.6 per cent since 1991. This was slightly less than the 8.5 per cent increase in the number of households in Scotland between the 1991 and 2001 Censuses (though see section in the Appendix entitled 'Comparisons with the 1991 Census').
Household type (Table 4a) - households are getting smaller
  • In Scotland, 32.9 per cent of households in 2001 consisted of one person living alone. For the islands, this was very slightly higher (33.9 per cent). At island group level, it varied from 52.6 per cent in Iona to 13.0 per cent in Trondra.
  • In 1991, these proportions were much lower, at 28.6 per cent for Scotland and 29.7 per cent for the islands.
  • Just under 7 per cent of households in Scotland in 2001 consisted of a lone parent with at least one dependent child. For the islands, this proportion was lower (4.6 per cent) although it varied from 7.1 per cent in Easdale to seven separate island groups where there were no such households.
  • As with one person households, the proportion of lone parent households increased between 1991 and 2001 in both Scotland and the islands.
  • A higher proportion of households on the islands consisted solely of pensioners (26.1 per cent, compared with 23.5 per cent for Scotland). Lismore had the highest proportion of 44.4 per cent, and Trondra the lowest of 2.2 per cent.
  • In both Scotland and the islands, the proportion in pensioner-only households fell slightly between 1991 and 2001. This is despite an increase over the same period in the proportion of persons who were of retirement age.


Accommodation type (Table 4b) - houses and bungalows more prevalent on islands

  • 86 per cent of islands households occupied a whole house or bungalow in 2001, much higher than the Scottish figure of 64 per cent.
  • There were eight island groups in 2001 where all households occupied a whole house or bungalow.
  • In 52 of the 54 island groups, more than 80 per cent of households occupied a whole house or bungalow. The exceptions were Bute (41.1 per cent) and Great Cumbrae (40.4 per cent).
  • Between 1991 and 2001, there were increases for both Scotland and the islands in the proportion of households which lived in houses or bungalows. The increase was, however, greater for Scotland than for the islands.
Tenure (Table 4b) - smaller increase in owner occupation on the islands compared with Scotland
  • In 2001, more households were owner-occupied in the islands than in Scotland (67.2 versus 62.6 per cent). The island group with the highest rate of owner-occupation was East Burra (89.3 per cent), while the lowest were Fair Isle and Gigha (19.2 and 19.6 per cent, respectively).
  • While more households were owner-occupied on the islands than in Scotland in both 1991 and 2001, the difference between the two areas was much smaller in 2001 (4.6 percentage points) than in 1991 (10.5 percentage points). The growth in owner-occupation has therefore been much stronger in Scotland than on the islands.

Cultural attributes

Ethnic group (Table 9) - few non-whites but more than in 1991

  • While 1 in 50 Scots are from a non-white ethnic background, only 1 in 150 islanders are.
  • The non-white ethnic population was higher in 2001 in both Scotland and the islands than it was in 1991. On the islands, numbers increased by almost 60 per cent, from 405 people in 1991 to 645 people in 2001.
Country of birth (Tables 2b and 9) - fewer Scots-born on the islands
  • In Scotland as a whole, 87 per cent of persons in 2001 were born in Scotland. For the islands, this figure was lower, at 84 per cent.
  • The proportion of islanders who were born in England (13 per cent) was substantially higher than the proportion of persons in Scotland who were born there (8 per cent). A total of 15 island groups had at least a quarter of their population born in England - 13 of these 15 island groups were in Argyll & Bute or the Orkney Islands.
  • In both Scotland and the islands, the proportion of persons born in Scotland was lower in 2001 than it was in 1991.
Religion (Tables 3 and 9) - Census data on religion for the first time in 2001
  • A slightly higher proportion of islanders reported their current religion as Church of Scotland (45.4 per cent), than in Scotland (42.4 per cent). In island groups, this varied from 81.6 per cent in Housay to 3.8 per cent in Eriskay.
  • While almost 16 per cent of persons in Scotland reported their present religion as Roman Catholic, only 7 per cent of islanders did so.
  • The most noticeable difference between island groups involves the southern and northern island groups of the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar area. More than two-thirds of residents in the most southerly islands (Vatersay, Barra, Eriskay and South Uist) gave their current religion as Roman Catholic while the figure for North Uist was almost 43 per cent. However, in each of the remaining (northerly) islands, fewer than 10 per cent of residents were Roman Catholic.
  • More islanders reported their present religion as "other Christian" - 15.9 per cent, compared with 6.8 per cent for Scotland. Among island groups, this varied from 56.8 per cent in Scalpay (Harris), and over a third in Raasay and Lewis & Harris, to 1.3 per cent in Housay.
  • Table 9 shows, at Scotland and at islands level, the breakdown of persons in 2001 by their religion of upbringing. The patterns for this are roughly similar to current religion except that there are fewer persons who reported having no religion of upbringing and more persons who did not actually answer the question on religion of upbringing.
Gaelic (Table 2a) - fewer Gaelic speakers
  • In 2001, it can be seen that the proportion of persons aged 3 or over who speak the Gaelic language is much higher on the islands (22 per cent) than in Scotland as a whole (just over 1 per cent).
  • Across island groups, there is huge variation. The 11 island groups with the highest proportions in 2001 were the ones which form the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar area - Scalpay (Harris) has the highest at 86.2 per cent, with Benbecula the lowest at 58.1 per cent. Elsewhere, a large proportion of the population in Tiree (48.6 per cent), Raasay (38.0 per cent) and Skye (37.9 per cent) speak Gaelic. However, in both the Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands, the proportion is lower than for Scotland as a whole.
  • At both Scotland and islands level, the proportion of persons who speak Gaelic was lower in 2001 than it was in 1991.

Illness and health

Long-term illness (Table 2b) - large increase in recorded long-term illness

  • 20.3 per cent of persons in Scotland had a limiting long-term illness in 2001. For the islands, this was slightly lower, at 19.4 per cent. This figure did vary greatly by island group, from 7.2 per cent in Fair Isle to 31.2 per cent in Great Cumbrae.
  • When persons of retirement age and over were excluded from the analysis, the gap between the islands and Scotland increased slightly (13.0 per cent for Scotland and 11.5 per cent for islands). The island group with the lowest proportion was now Gigha (4.8 per cent) while Great Cumbrae still had the highest (22.2 per cent).
  • There was a substantial increase, between 1991 and 2001, at both Scotland and islands level, in the proportion who reported having a limiting long-term illness. The gap between Scotland and the islands was, however, smaller in 2001 than it had been in 1991.
General health (Table 9) - slightly better health on the islands compared with Scotland
  • Marginally more islanders reported their state of general health as "good" (70 per cent) compared with Scots as a whole (68 per cent).

Economic activity

General (Table 10) - more islanders self-employed

  • A much higher proportion of islands residents in 2001 aged between 16 and 74 were self-employed (13.3 per cent), than in Scotland as a whole (6.6 per cent). A smaller proportion of islanders were employees, although a greater proportion were part-time employees.
  • Between 1991 and 2001, persons in part-time employment increased, both in the islands and in Scotland.
  • In addition, the proportion who were unemployed fell between 1991 and 2001, by 3 and 4 percentage points at islands and Scotland level, respectively. This left 2001 levels at around 4 per cent for both areas.
Sex (Table 2b) - increase in the number of women in employment
  • In 2001, a higher proportion of working age people, both male and female, were in employment in the islands than in Scotland.
  • Over three-quarters of men on the islands were in employment in 2001 - this varied from 95.5 per cent in Iona to 51.2 per cent in Eriskay - while almost 72 per cent of women were in work - the highest proportion being 96.2 per cent in Iona and the lowest 54.4 per cent in Hoy. There were 11 island groups which had a higher proportion of females in employment than males.
  • The proportion of working age men in employment was lower in 2001 than it was in 1991, for both the islands and Scotland. For working age women, this proportion has increased for both areas, though noticeably more so for the islands.
Providing Care (Table 2b) - one in ten a carer
  • The 2001 Census had a new question on whether a person provided care (that is unpaid help to a family member, friend or neighbour because of long-term physical or mental ill-health or disability, including problems related to old age). 9.5 per cent of persons in Scotland are carers.
  • A slightly higher proportion of islanders (9.7 per cent) provide care. This varied from 2.3 per cent in Eriskay to 14.6 per cent in Great Bernera.
Industry (Table 10) - more islanders employed in agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing
  • In 2001, 9.5 per cent of islanders worked in agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing, compared to 2.4 per cent for Scotland.
  • Conversely, a higher proportion of persons in Scotland worked in manufacturing, financial intermediaries and real estate, renting & business activities (13.2, 4.6 and 11.2 per cent respectively), compared with 8.7, 1.3 and 7.6 per cent for the islands.
  • On the islands, a slightly higher percentage of people worked in construction and hotels & restaurants than in Scotland.
  • Since 1991, the main changes which have taken place at islands level are reductions in the numbers working in mining and quarrying and significant rises in those working in real estate, renting & business activities and health & social work. In Scotland, it is manufacturing which has fallen the most while real estate, renting & business activities has experienced the biggest rise.


Cars and vans (Table 4b) - more households with cars/vans on the islands

  • The proportion of households who had a car or van in 2001 was higher on the islands. Almost two-thirds of Scottish households came into this category while, for the islands, the figure was almost three-quarters.
  • Over 95 per cent of households in Trondra had a car/van. The other end of the scale was Eriskay, where just over 40 per cent did.
  • In 1991, a lower proportion of households had a car/van - less than 60 per cent in Scotland and two-thirds in the islands. The islands with the highest and lowest proportions in 1991 were again Trondra (88 per cent) and Eriskay (25 per cent), respectively.
Travel to work and travel to study (Tables 10 and 9) - more persons go to work by car
  • Five per cent of islanders travelled to work by train, bus, coach or taxi in 2001, compared with 16 per cent for Scotland.
  • 12 per cent of islanders worked at home, compared with just 6 per cent for Scotland.
  • Approximately the same proportion in both the islands and Scotland (64 per cent) travelled to work by car or motorcycle.
  • Since 1991, for both the islands and Scotland, the proportion for persons travelling by car or motorcycle has increased by around 8 or 9 percentage points.
  • In 2001, students in Scotland were most likely to travel to their place of study by "other means" i.e. chiefly by foot or bicycle. For students on the islands, it was bus, minibus, coach or taxi which was the most common form of transport to place of study.
  • The proportion who travelled to a place of study by car or motor cycle on the islands was very similar to Scotland.
Place of work or study (Table 5) - over 19 in 20 islanders' 'daytime' location is on the islands
  • Not surprisingly, the vast majority of islanders (almost 92 per cent) had their daytime location within the island group in which they lived. This did vary, however, from 36.8 per cent in Trondra to 97.3 per cent in Colonsay.
  • The percentage who had a different daytime location was highest for island groups which are located close to other island groups - especially some of the island groups in the Shetland Islands.

Educational Qualifications

Highest level obtained (Table 10) - a third have no educational qualifications

  • On both the islands and in Scotland, around one third of people, aged between 16 and 74, had no educational qualifications.
  • Islanders had much the same level of qualifications as Scottish people generally.


Definition of "island"

An island is a mass of land surrounded by water, separate from the Scottish mainland. There are maps and an index at the back of this paper to show the location of the inhabited islands. The islands listed in the Index are those for which the Royal Mail had at least one listed postcoded address at Census time, plus any other islands which were identified by Census enumerators as being inhabited.

Islands are still classified as individual islands even when they are linked to other island(s) or to the mainland by connections such as a bridge, causeway or ford. The index provides information on which islands have connections and which do not.

A similar paper to this one was published from the 1991 Census entitled '1991 Census : Monitor for Inhabited Islands : Scotland' (GROS 1995, ISBN 1-874451-44-3). In the 1991 paper, Inchbraoch (also known as Rossie) was classified as an inhabited island. However, since 1991, an area between the south of Inchbraoch and the mainland has been reclaimed as land. As a result, Inchbraoch is now considered to be part of the mainland and is not therefore included in any of the analyses of islands / island groups in this paper.

Some Scottish islands have the same name. In this paper, these islands have been given separate names to help distinguish them. For example, there are two islands in the Outer Hebrides called Grimsay and, for the purposes of this paper (and also the Scottish Census Results OnLine website, these islands have been called Grimsay (North) and Grimsay (South).

Difference between "individual island" and "island group"

Table 1 gives a basic count of the number of residents and households in each individual island in 2001, together with a note of the local authority area which each island is contained within. This is the only detail which it is possible to produce at individual island level. The reason for this is that the lowest level of geography for which Census statistics are generally produced is Output Area (OA) level. OAs are formed by aggregating postcodes and there are around 42,000 OAs in Scotland. In order to prevent the disclosure of information pertaining to individuals, these output areas cannot contain less than 20 households or less than 50 residents. There are a number of islands which do not meet these size criteria. Where an OA contains statistics for two or more islands, those islands are placed in the same 'island group'.

The remaining tables (Tables 2a to 10) in this paper only cover island groups. They do not include the residents and households on islands which are combined with areas of the mainland (see next paragraph). The index towards the rear of this paper gives details of how individual islands were grouped into island groups in 2001. Many "island groups" contain only the island of the same name (e.g. Bute, Barra). Others (for example, Colonsay and Skye) include a main island and some other islands which are so small that they have had to be merged in order to form an Output Area. Altogether, there were 54 island groups in 2001.

There were, in addition, a total of 14 small islands which, in 2001, were part of output areas encompassing the mainland. These islands appear under the "Combined with mainland" headings in Table 1. As Tables 2a to 7 are at "island group" level, they do not include those islands. This accounts for the fact that the residents and households totals in Tables 2a and 4a differ from the equivalent totals in Table 1 by 101 residents and 41 households for 2001 and by 111 residents and 42 households for 1991. In addition, for tables 8 to 10, these 14 islands are treated as though they were part of the mainland.

The island groups classifications used in 1991 were not identical to 2001 in the following ways:

  1. In 2001, the island of Easdale formed an island group by itself. However, in 1991, it did not have a sufficiently high number of residents to be an island group on its own. Therefore, in 1991, it was combined with the island of Seil to form an island group, which was also called Seil. Therefore, in tables 2a, 2b, 4a and 4b:
    a. No separate figures are available for Easdale for 1991, and
    b. For the Seil island group, the 1991 figures are for the combined area covering the islands Seil and Easdale, while the 2001 figures cover only the island of Seil itself.
  2. The reverse was true for the island of Baleshare which had sufficient residents and households to be an island group by itself in 1991 but, in 2001, had to be combined with the island of North Uist. In order to keep tables 2a, 2b, 4a and 4b as simple as possible, Baleshare has not been shown separately and is included in the North Uist island group for both 1991 and 2001.
  3. In Table 1, the island of Graemsay has been placed under the island group Mainland of Orkney. However, in 1991, it was combined with the island of Hoy. Therefore, in tables 2a to 7, the 1991 figures have Graemesay as part of the Hoy group while, in the 2001 figures, it is included in the Mainland of Orkney group.
  4. Similarly, in Table 1, the island of Shuna (Luing) has been placed under the Luing island group. For 2001, it is also counted in this way in tables 2 to 7 and is included under the inhabited island groups category in tables 8 to 10. However, in 1991, Shuna (Luing) was combined with the mainland. It is therefore completely excluded from any 1991 island group figures in tables 2a to 10.

As a result of points 1, 3 and 4, the 1991 figures in Table 1 for the Easdale, Seil, Hoy, Mainland of Orkney and Luing island groups differ from those in Tables 2a and 4a.

Comparisons with the 1991 Census

The 2001 figures have been adjusted to take account of estimated undercoverage in the Census. Population figures from the 1991 Census were not adjusted for underenumeration, so the 1991 and 2001 Census figures are not truly comparable.

The place of residence of students was changed between Censuses. In 1991, students educated away from home were treated as resident at their home or vacation addresses, whereas, in 2001, they were treated as resident at their term-time address. This may affect comparisons, particularly for those islands with no secondary school.

2001 Census Background

The Census itself

The Census was designed to collect information on the resident population on Census Day - 29 April 2001. Copies of the Census forms used are available on the Census pages of the GROS website.

The Census questions asked of all people covered:

  • sex, age (date of birth) and marital status
  • relationship to others in the household (where applicable)
  • whether schoolchild/student
  • whether term-time address
  • country of birth
  • ethnic group
  • religion - current and upbringing
  • health
  • limiting long-term illness
  • provision of unpaid care
  • address one year ago
  • address of place of work or study
  • means of travel to work or study
  • knowledge of Gaelic
and questions for those aged 16 to 74 also covered:
  • qualifications
  • economic activity and employment status
  • number of employees at place of work
  • year since last employed
  • occupation and industry of employment
  • hours worked
and, in addition, the person filling in the form in each household was asked about:
  • type of accommodation and whether self-contained
  • number of rooms
  • availability of bath/shower and toilet
  • lowest floor level
  • presence of central heating
  • availability of cars or vans
  • tenure
  • landlord
  • whether or not accommodation was rented as furnished

Census Coverage Survey

The 1991 Census suffered from a degree of undercount (with some people and households being missed), the extent and nature of which was not identified by the 1991 Census Validation Survey. As a result the detailed 1991 Census tables were not consistent with the final estimate of 1991 Census Day population. To avoid a similar situation following the 2001 Census, the Census itself was supplemented by the Census Coverage Survey (CCS).

The 2001 CCS was an intensive enumeration of a representative sample of postcodes in Scotland and was designed to be independent of the Census and provide the required data to estimate underenumeration. More detail on the conduct of the Census is available on the Census pages of the GROS website.

Quality of the Results

The use of the methodology means that the results of the 2001 Census cover the entire population of Scotland, and are believed to be the most reliable results obtained by any Census in Scotland. However, there are a number of potential sources of error in the results. These include:
  • Incorrect or incomplete information provided on the forms.
  • Sampling error related to estimates derived from the CCS.
  • Unidentified dependencies between the Census and the CCS.
  • Errors introduced during processing and imputation.

Some elements of incorrect information and biases will have been corrected during the editing process. Following this, the results have undergone an extensive quality assurance process, including checks against aggregated administrative information on particular groups such as students and the armed forces. Elements of dependency between the Census and Census Coverage Survey have been identified and corrected for, by cross-checking with alternative data sources.

Since the adjustments for underenumeration are estimates based on a sample survey, sampling errors can be used as a guide in assessing the accuracy of the adjustments. The sampling error can be used to construct a 95 per cent confidence interval - that is a range in which we can be 95 per cent confident that the true value lies. For the population of Scotland, this confidence interval is 0.3 per cent of the estimated population.


The Registrar General has a legal obligation not to reveal information collected in the Census about individual people and households. Protecting the Census data is of key importance and steps have been taken to safeguard confidentiality and protect against disclosure of personal information provided on the Census form. Further information is given in 'Scotland's Census - A guide to the results and how to obtain them' - which is available on the Census pages of the GROS website or by contacting Statistics Customer Services using our Contact Form


Populations Covered in this Paper

Some tables in this paper relate to the population 'All people', but other tables relate to subsets of 'All people', such as 'People in employment aged 16 to 74', or to distinct populations such as 'All households'.


In the 2001 Census, information was collected only on "usual residents". A usual resident at an address is generally defined as someone who spends most of their time residing at that address. It includes:
  • People who usually live at the address but are temporarily away from home (on holiday, visiting friends or relatives or temporarily in a hospital or similar establishment) on Census Day.
  • A spouse or partner who works away from home for part of the time, or is a member of the Armed Forces.
  • Students at their term-time address.
  • A baby born before 30th April 2001 even if he or she is still in hospital.
  • People present on Census Day, even if temporarily, who have no other usual address.
However, it does not include:
  • Anyone present on Census Day who has another "usual" address.
  • Anyone who has been living, or will live, in a special establishment such as a residential home, nursing home or hospital for six months or more.


A household is one person living alone, or a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address with common housekeeping - that is, sharing either a living room or sitting room or at least one meal a day.

More information on the definition of table populations can be obtained from 'Scotland's Census - A Guide to the results and how to obtain them' on the Census pages of the GROS website or by contacting GROS Customer Services. This will also be available, in the near future, from the Office for National Statistics' 2001 Census Definitions Volume.


Further information about the Census products, or assistance in finding the appropriate data or requests for additional data not part of the Census products, can be obtained from Statistics Customer Services using our Contact Form.

Page last updated: 6 May 2009

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