Tuesday, August 10, 2021

50 Years of Change

The UK's Office of National Statistics has been comparing data from the 1961 and 2011 censuses to see how life in England & Wales changed over the course of those 50 years. In Census unearthed: explore 50 years of change from 1961 a number of interactive maps allow you to directly compare how life has changed in the UK over half a century.

According to the 1961 census returns around 7% of people in England & Wales didn't have an indoor toilet. However in some rural areas over 50% of homes didn't have an inside flushing toilet.In 1961 the majority of the population lived in renting accommodation and only 42% of households owned their own home. By 2011 the majority of people owned their own homes in England & Wales (64%).

60 years ago marriage was much more popular than it was in 2011. In 1961 68% of people aged 16 years and over were married and only 0.8% were divorced. In 2011 the number of people married had fallen to 49% and 9% were divorced. The population of the UK has also become older since 1961. In nearly every area of England & Wales the proportion of people over 75 has increased. 

The Office of National Statistic's comparison of the 1961 and 2011 censuses has been made possible by the digitization of historical census returns. This digitization process was done by optical character recognition (OCR). OCR was able to digitize around 95% of the characters and numbers in the original census returns. A citizen science project was then developed to digitize the remaining 5% of characters and numbers not able to be read by OCR.

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