National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future



Population and migration statistics are of high public value. Therefore, it is important to continuously review the methods and data sources for producing these statistics. This will help to ensure that we continue to produce high quality statistics to meet user needs.

NRS are currently progressing work to:

  • Improve our population and migration statistics – by exploring the feasibility of future use of administrative data collected by public bodies and services. This could be used to augment, complement or replace NRS’ data collected by a traditional census. This statistical research is part of the administrative data based population and household estimates project
  • Put new data sources at the heart of our statistics – maximising the use of all available data sources ensuring we have accurate and timely evidence to measure our population.
  • Improve the coherence of our population and migration statistics across the UK – working in partnership with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). ONS have a substantial programme of work to transform their population and migration statistics. We are collaborating with ONS and NISRA on this.
  • Use administrative data to help quality assure the outputs for the 2022 Census – making best use of administrative data to carry out Scotland’s Census

Administrative data based population and household estimates project

One of the aims of Scotland’s Census 2022 Programme is to make recommendations for future censuses. The administrative data based population and household estimates project is supporting this aim. This project is investigating ways to produce population and household estimates from administrative data sources that are not reliant on a census.

Data users have been consulted and involved from the outset of the project. Extensive consultation work was undertaken in the Beyond 2011 programme in 2013. The Scotland’s Census 2022 Admin Data team continued this work and a range of data users were consulted in 2017. There has also been regular consultation with key stakeholders throughout this work.
Our second report was published on 14 December 2021. This has an improved methodology and more recent data. It superseded the previous analysis published in 2020.

Future plans

The Admin Data team plans to undertake further consultation about the above publication throughout 2022. This will allow a discussion with users about the use of administrative data within the field of demographic statistics. 
While work continues looking at the benefit and quality of administrative data based population and household estimates, the official population and household estimates will continue to be those based on the data from the latest available Census.
We very much welcome comments and feedback from data users, and we can be contacted at [email protected].

All statistical publications