National Records of Scotland

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Background Information on Small Area Population Estimates

Background Information on Small Area Population Estimates

This publication contains the mid-2006 Small Area Population Estimates (SAPE) for Scotland. The National Records of Scotland (NRS) has produced small area population estimates at data zone level for each year from 2001 onwards. Further details of the background to the project and a description of the methodology used to produce the small area population estimates are available on the 2001-2004 Small Area Population Estimates section of this website.

This report presents the mid-2006 population estimates for data zones, by gender and five-year age groups [Footnote 1]. The estimates are consistent with the revised [Footnote 2] mid-year population estimates for council areas (available at Mid-2006 Population Estimates Scotland of this website).

The data zone small area population estimates are derived using the cohort-component method where census-based estimates are updated by ‘ageing on’ populations and applying information on births, deaths and migration. A brief description of the methodology is outlined in the paper that accompanied the publication of the 2001-2004 SAPEs - '2001-2004 Small Area Population Estimates – Methodology'. More information on data zone geography can be found on the Scottish Government website.

NRS has been carrying out research to compare the SAPE with a range of administrative datasets. The research compares both the levels of the estimates and the relative changes in these data. The administrative datasets being used in the research include Community Health Index based patient data, child benefit data, school census data, and the ‘older persons’ database derived from individual DWP databases for Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Widows Benefit, State Pension, Incapacity Benefit, Winter Fuel and Minimum Income Guarantee, and covers persons aged 65 years and over. In addition, in 2007 NRS collected data from Scottish universities on the term-time addresses of students living in university-owned accommodation. This information was used to check estimates for data zones in ‘student areas’    

Based on this research and the student data some adjustments were made to the small area population estimates for 2006. These adjustments mostly related to areas with a high number of university students, where, because of the transient nature of the population, the migration data (from the community health index) is known to be less reliable. Using the data collected from the universities, adjustments were made to some populations and/or the age-sex distribution of the population. A change was also made to the methodology, which in the past caused some ‘student areas’ to have a high number of 10-16 year olds. Adjustments were also applied to some data zones where general hospitals are situated. It was found that a number of births and deaths were being recorded in these areas for people who were not normally resident in Scotland. These adjustments were only made to the 2006 estimates and have not been applied retrospectively to the estimates for the previous years.


[Footnote 1] With the exception of the range 10-19 which is split into the age groups 10-15 and 16-19. This has been done to allow the creation of the broad age groups children (0-15), working age (16-59/64) and pensionable age (60/65 and over).

[Footnote 2] On 27 July 2007 the mid-year population estimates for 2003-2006 were revised for the six council areas of Aberdeen  City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Dundee City, Moray and Perth & Kinross. More details on the 'Revised Mid-year Population Estimates 2003-2006' are available on this website.

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