Skip to main content

Census

Volume 715: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what answers they anticipate to the 2011 census to the proposed ethnic group questions “any other Black/African/Caribbean background” and “any other ethnic group”; what “other ethnic group” other than Arabic was considered; and what percentage of respondents to the 2007 census test described themselves as “Gypsy or Irish traveller”. [HL699]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Jil Matheson, National Statistician, to Lord Laird, dated December 2009.

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking (a) what answers are anticipated to the 2011 Census to the proposed ethnic group questions “any other Black/African/Caribbean background” and “any other ethnic group”; (b) what “other ethnic group” other than Arabic was considered; and (c) what percentage of respondents to the 2007 census test described themselves as “Gypsy or Irish traveller”. (HL699)

(a) We would expect a range of different written responses for those ticking the “Any other Black/African/Caribbean background” box and the “Any other ethnic group” box in the 2011 Census question on ethnic group.

In 2001, for more than eight in 10 (84 per cent) of those in the “Other Black” group, an ethnic group description was specified in the text box on the census form. The majority (63 per cent) specified a “Black British” ethnic identity. A further 13 per cent were coded to a “Black Mixed” group, indicating mixed ethnicity where both or all ethnicities described are from different black groups.

The main write-in descriptions of the “Other Ethnic group” were Filipino (23 per cent), Japanese (21 per cent), Vietnamese (11 per cent), Arab (11 per cent), Middle Eastern (6 per cent), and North African (4 per cent) although we except most east Asian descriptors to be written in under the “Other Asian” space in 2011 and Arab respondents to use the “Arab” tick-box.

More information about the 2001 “other” groups can be found in our article Who are the “Other” ethnic groups? which can be downloaded from http://www.statistics.gov.uk/articles/nojournal/other_ethnicgroups.pdf.

(b) With space on the census questionnaire limited to only two new tick boxes, and many more demands for tick-boxes than could be accommodated, ONS developed a set of principles by which requirements for new tick box categories for ethnic groups could be assessed and prioritised. These covered:

strength of need for information;

lack of alternative sources of information;

clarity and quality of the information collected and acceptability to respondents; and

comparability with the 2001 Census data.

Particular groups which were identified during the consultation with users and also considered for individual tick boxes were:

African

Cornish

East African Asian

Eastern European

Greek/Greek Cypriot

Iranian

Jewish

Kashmiri

Kurdish

Latin American

Mixed: Black and Asian

Mixed: White and Chinese

Nepalese

Non-European White

Sikh

Sri Lankan

Turkish/Turkish Cypriot

Vietnamese

Detailed information about the prioritisation process and the ethnic groups which were considered together with the scores obtained are available in Annex A of the Information Paper Deciding which tick-boxes to add to the ethnic group question in the 2011 England and Wales Census.

http://www.ons.gov.uk/census/2011-census/2011-census-questionnaire-content/question-and-content-recommendations-for-2011/index.html.

(c) Less than 1 per cent of respondents to the 2007 test which was carried out in approximately 100,000 households from within the five local authority areas of Bath and North East Somerset, Camden, Carmarthenshire, Liverpool and Stoke-on-Trent recorded themselves as “Gypsy or Irish Traveller”.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will print the “tick answer” options such as “choose one” and “tick all” on the 2011 census form in bold and capital letters to reduce incorrect responses. [HL744]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will add the words “Mixed British” to the proposed ethnic group question title “Mixed/multiple ethnic groups” in the 2011 census, in line with the existing “Asian British” and “Black British” ethnic group options. [HL747]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Jil Matheson, National Statistician, to Lord Laird, dated December 2009.

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent questions asking (a) whether “tick answer” options such as “choose one” and “tick all” on the 2011 census form will be printed in bold and capital letters to reduce incorrect responses (HL744); (b) whether the words “Mixed British” will be added to the proposed ethnic group question title “Mixed/multiple ethnic groups” in the 2011 census, in line with the existing “Asian British” and “Black British” ethnic group options (HL747).

(a) The design of the 2011 Census questionnaire, including fonts, text format and page layout, has been subject to extensive methodological research and testing. In the options you refer to, “one” is in bold type and “tick all that apply” is in a different colour and font. There are no plans, at this late stage, to make any changes to the format of such instructions on the questionnaire.

(b) There are no plans to change the wording of this question. Parliament has now approved the Draft Census (England and Wales) Order 2009, which set out the question topics to be asked in the 2011 Census. The title of the “Mixed/multiple ethnic groups” category in the ethnic group question cannot, therefore, be amended at this stage.