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Census Geography: Scotland 1971

The smallest areal units of the 1971 census geography hierarchy in Scotland are "Enumeration Districts" (EDs). These areas were each the responsibility of a single census enumerator. These EDs were designed entirely manually and no contemporary digital boundaries exist. The 15,890 Scottish 1971 EDs contain an average of 329 persons and 106 households. The minimum threshold for publication of census data was 25 persons and 8 households. There is no clear relationship between ED and postcode geography because they were created by completely separate processes and no national lists of postcode geography were available in 1971.

EDs nest within wards. 1971 wards have a mean size of 3,465 persons or 1,117 households. There are two local government tiers comprising 399 councils at the local authority level (variously, Scottish boroughs, district councils, metropolitan boroughs) and a higher level of 37 counties. There are four cities which exist at both the county level (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee) - effectively there is only one tier of local government in these cities. 1974 saw a major reorganization of local government in the UK affecting both of these levels which means that it can be difficult to exactly match 1971 data to the post-1974 structures. Area names are used at the county, local authority and ward levels, but EDs have only numbers. Each District contained one "shipping" ED within one "shipping" ward for the allocation of residents aboard British-registered shipping at the time of the census, although for most local authorities the population of the shipping ward is 0. Different area coding schemes are in use for the remaining sources of access to the 1971 census data and it is not possible to definitively describe the codes that may be encountered. It is therefore essential to ensure that when using 1971 census data, an appropriate area code list is used to translate between codes and area names.

In addition to the ED geography, 1971 census data were assigned grid references and aggregated to 1km x 1km grid squares, providing an alternative geographical representation of the census data. These grid square data formed the basis for the maps in the publication People in Britain: A Census Atlas (CRU/OPCS/GROS, 1980).


Table 1: 1971 Census geography hierarchy within Scotland

Area type Area name Number Mean population
County  Edinburgh City  37  141,323
Local authority  Edinburgh City  399  13,105
Ward  South Leith Ward  1,509  3,465
ED  (not named)  15,890  329

Further Readings

CRU/OPCS/GROS (1980) People in Britain: A Census Atlas, HMSO, London