National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Background and Methodology

Background and Methodology


National Records of Scotland (NRS) has been involved in work to produce small area population estimates for a number of years. Initially this work was motivated by resource allocation work in the Scottish Government Health Department, but it was latterly funded by the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics project.

This work resulted in ward-based Small Area Population Estimates (SAPE) published for 1999 and 2000, using an apportionment method based on the Community Health Index (CHI). The 2001 Census gave an opportunity to quality assure this work but it also provided a new baseline for the application of the cohort-component method. In this method a baseline population is modified by ageing it and adjusting it with information on births, deaths and migration. The conclusion of this work was that the apportionment method was less satisfactory, and that the preferred method was the cohort-component method. A ward-based report had been made available on the web, although there were quality issues identified as part of an exercise comparing the migration component of SAPE with the census migration data.


The data zone small area population estimates are derived using the cohort-component method where census-based estimates are updated annually by ‘ageing on’ the population 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 Neighbourhood Statistics Data Zones Background Information page on the Scottish Government website.


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. The statistics available on this page for 2003-2006 were produced using the revised population estimates. These revised estimates replace the previously published figures. More details on the Revised Mid-year Population Estimates 2003-2006 are available from this website.

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