National Records of Scotland

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2001 Census Ethnicity Reports - Report on Coding of Any Mixed Background

2001 Census Ethnicity Reports - Report on Coding of Any Mixed Background

1. Introduction

The question on ethnicity for the 2001 Census (Appendix A) divided answer categories into five sections. Most form-fillers would have selected a section and ticked a box within that section. For one tick box in each section the form-filler had also to write some descriptive text. Section B was headed Mixed and contained a single tick box ‘Any Mixed background, please write in’.

There were 12,764 persons recorded in the final Census database as being of ‘Any Mixed background’. Around three-quarters of these ticked the box in Section B or wrote text in that section or both. The remainder of those classified as being of mixed ethnicity made their entry in some other way.

By analysing how form-fillers supplied information on ethnicity, it is possible to confirm that in 86 percent of cases, an assignment to ‘Any Mixed background’ was correct. In a few cases (2 percent) it looks as though such an assignment was incorrect. In most of the remaining cases (9 percent of all cases), it is impossible to confirm the assignment because the form-filler either did not complete the question or no form was received for the person and the record was created as part of the One Number Census process. There were also a few cases (2 percent) where detailed investigation would be needed to be sure whether the person was of ‘Any Mixed background’ judging by the text on the form.

Ethnic descriptors were derived from the text entered on the form.  Details can be found in the Text Descriptors section. The text of the forms distilled down to 425 distinct descriptors, the most common of which was ‘Scottish’ (Appendix D). 

When a person had two or more descriptors, the most common combination of first and second descriptor is ‘Black’/’White’, followed by ‘African’/’Scottish’ and ‘Iranian’/’Scottish’ (Appendix F). When each descriptor is assigned to one of the 14 tick boxes on the form, the most common combination of tick-box categories is ‘Other-Asian’/’White-Scottish’. At the level of the 5 sections on the form, the most common combination is ‘White’/’Asian’.

The report is set out as:

  • an outline of the detailed coding done for ethnicity and how this was used for output (section 2 and Appendix B);

  • an account of the ‘tick and text’ data generated during the capture of data on the Census form (section 3);

  • a description of how text data was distilled into ethnicity descriptors and how these descriptors were used to confirm (or otherwise) assignment of a person to the category ‘Any Mixed background’ (section 4); and

  • appendices A to F showing the (a) Census question, (b) output codes, (c) numbers with ‘Any Mixed background’ in each detailed output code in the output and tick and text databases, (d) the descriptors distilled from text data, (e) a summary of how the tick and text data confirmed (or otherwise) the assignment to ‘Any Mixed background’ and (f) combinations of descriptors at various levels.