Prof Heather Joshi defends the census to the Commons science committee

8 December 2011

The census is “a treasure trove of evidence about the social fabric of Britain” Professor Heather Joshi tells the House of Commons science committee.

The census is “a treasure trove of evidence about the social fabric of Britain” Professor Heather Joshi, former Director of CLS, has told the House of Commons science committee.

Defending the value of the census as an historical record, Professor Joshi told MPs that “for understanding less local issues like trends in the labour force, or trends in the family, or projecting what the birth rate will be, the census is a complete treasure trove of evidence about the social fabric on which lots of other data sources build.”

The UK has carried out a census every 10 years since 1801. Critics have said that the information is too slow to come out and too quick to become out of date to justify the cost (the 2011 census was expected to cost £482 million). But Professor Joshi and others stress that the census is building a unique data set that will allow researchers and policy makers to understand large scale social change in Britain – and how that affects individual lives.

For more detailed coverage of the debate, visit the BBC website.