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The census as an information source in public policy-making

Killick, Lynn; Hall, Hazel; Duff, Alistair S; Deakin, Mark


Lynn Killick

Hazel Hall

Alistair S Duff


This paper provides an assessment of the value of national population censuses as information sources with specific reference to
UK census data and its use in policy-making. Mixed methods were adopted to collect quantitative and qualitative data from two
sources: (1) a content analysis of policy documents, and (2) interviews with policy-makers in Scotland. The findings highlight that
although the general value of the census is recognised, policy-makers are not necessarily closely engaged with the census as a tool
for directing the development and implementation of policy. This is evident, for example in a lack of awareness of proposed changes
to the census, and infrequent deployment of available data. The opportunity to change perceptions among policy-makers, and to
expand the application of census data in public policy, is identified. With a novel focus on the deployment of censuses as sources of
evidence for policy-making that includes the views of policy-makers from both within and beyond government, this work
contributes to an established body of global research on international censuses.


Killick, L., Hall, H., Duff, A. S., & Deakin, M. (2016). The census as an information source in public policy-making. Journal of Information Science, 42(3), 386-395.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 23, 2015
Online Publication Date Feb 2, 2016
Publication Date 2016-06
Deposit Date Oct 12, 2015
Publicly Available Date Feb 2, 2016
Journal Journal of Information Science
Print ISSN 0165-5515
Electronic ISSN 1741-6485
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 42
Issue 3
Pages 386-395
Keywords census; evidence-based policy; population census; public policy; Scotland; social policy; United Kingdom; UK
Public URL
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