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As the name suggests, “Small Area Statistics” generate vast amounts of data that delve in great detail into people’s experiences and behaviours “at the local level”.

In this particular instance the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has used “recently digitised data from the 1961 Census Small Area Statistics” in England and Wales to provide highly-detailed comparative data about people’s lives that can be used in a couple of ways:

Firstly, it tells us a great deal about regional differences 50 years ago in relation to things like material inequality (East Anglia, the South-West of England and most of Wales for example, were among the very poorest areas in 1961), population demographics (such as age profiles) and cultural changes in relation to things like marriage and divorce.

Secondly, by comparing data from the 1961 Census to data from the most-recently analysed 2011 Census we can track demographic changes across both England and Wales and different regions within and between each country over a 50-year period.

Census unearthed: explore 50 years of change was produced with the help of “2,800 volunteers who made 5.5 million checks to help turn scans of the 1961 Census Small Area Statistics into digital tables” and provides both written data and interactive online maps that can be used to explore 50 years of social and material change across categories like:

  • Household amenities, such as access to indoor toilets and a fixed bath.
  • Marriage and divorce.
  • Population size and change.
  • Levels of renting (private and public) and home ownership.
  • Urbanisation, life expectancy and declining birth rates.
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