Existing users login

Glossary of terms


The following glossary of terms is derived from the Office of Nation Statistics Census 2011 glossary with the addition of Suffolk Observatory related terms

Administrative data sources

Administrative data sources are collections of data maintained for a purpose other than the collection and production of statistics. These sources are typically managed by other government bodies. A range of data was used to help quality assure 2011 Census estimates. These data included administrative sources (such as the number of people registered with a doctor, the number of households registered for council tax purposes), surveys (such as the Integrated Household Survey) and other official ONS population products (such as the mid-year population estimates).


Age is derived from the date of birth question and is a person's age at their last birthday, at 27 March 2011. Dates of birth that imply an age over 115 are treated as invalid and the Person’s age is imputed. Infants less than one year old are classified as 0 years of age.


For area measurements, census statistics use Standard Area Measurements (SAM), created by ONS Geography for key geographies in the UK using standard methodologies. SAMs are land measurement figures defined by topographic boundaries (coastline and inland water) as at the end of 2011.

Area measurements are in hectares - the metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres or approximately 2.47 acres - there are 100 hectares in 1 km2. Each area measurement used in census results is calculated by aggregating the SAM (measured to two decimal places) for each output area that has been best-fitted to each higher area.

Armed Forces

A person aged 16 and over and in employment in the week before the census is a member of the armed forces if they have an occupation code „Officers in Armed forces‟ or „NCOs and other ranks'. This means that civilians working for the armed forces are not classified as a member of the armed forces. In some census results armed forces personnel are further classified as either members of the 'Home armed forces' or 'Foreign armed forces' (determined by the industry code of 'Foreign armed forces').

Average number of bedrooms per household

The average number of bedrooms per household for any area is equal to the total number of bedrooms in households in the area divided by the number of households in the area.

Average number of rooms per household

The average number of rooms per household for any area is equal to the total number of rooms in households in the area divided by the number of households in the area.

Census count

Census count refers to the number of people included on census questionnaires which have been processed, and have been included as a person in the census count. This number is used to calculate response rates, which is the census count as a proportion of the census estimate.


The census produces estimates for the number of people and households in England and Wales. It also tells the story of the population by filling in the detail about the people, families and households. These characteristics are based on the census questions such as religion, ethnicity, age, qualifications and employment, and give us the information to help to understand the make-up of an area.


A classification is the full set of values that a variable can have. People or households are classified with respect to a variable by assigning them to a category – one of the values – that the variable can take. For example, the 2011 Census question asking for a person‟s date of birth is used to derive their age. The age classification has categories for each age in single years, and a person is assigned to one of these ages based on their response. In some results from the census some of these categories may be added together to form a collapsed classification, for example adding together single years of age to produce results that classify all of the people in five-year age bands.


Cookies are very small text files that are stored on your computer by some websites.  They are commonly used to retain setting or other features ready for your next visit.  The Suffolk Observatory does not use cookies at the current time.



All materials and intellectual property rights on this website, including without limitation, text, logos, icons, photographs and all other artwork is copyright material of us or our suppliers, unless otherwise stated.  Use may be made of data and reports for personal, non-commercial or commercial purposes without our permission in accordance with individual metadata instructions. However, where any of the copyright items on this site are republished or copied to others, the source material must be identified and the copyright status acknowledged

Commissioned tables

Some users require statistics that are not part of the standard pre-planned set of census tables. These users can request that new specific tables be produced. These can include tables that use a different combination of variables than those used in standard results, or tables that use different combinations of classification categories, or tables that are produced for a different geography. There is a charge for this service and ONS carefully checks to make sure that the tables requested are not disclosive (making sure that an individual, or their characteristics, cannot be identified). All requests that can be met will be provided to the original user making the request, and also published on the ONS website so that, under the Open Government License, all statistics produced are made accessible to everyone.

Coverage estimation

Coverage estimation is also referred to as coverage assessment and adjustment. This is a detailed statistical process that was designed to take account of the proportion of people and households who did not complete a census questionnaire. More information about coverage estimation is available at:



Data Indicators

The Suffolk Observatory has some 1400 data indicators, these are individual data elements available at a range of geographies and over a number of time periods.  Data indicators are made visible by means of Data Views and Profiles.  The data Indicators are grouped in Themes such as Housing, Population, Transport and Travel and then into sub-folders within each Theme.


Data Views

The Suffolk Observatory has some 300 data views, these are collections of data indicators available for the user.  They present the data in a geographies and over a number of time periods.  Data views are made visible by means of Data Views and Profiles.  The data Indicators are grouped in Themes such as Housing, Population, Transport and Travel and then into sub-folders within each Theme.

Data visualisation

This refers to a way of presenting data visually. The statistics are taken and put into a visual format (for example a graph or map) so that users can get a clear picture of what the data are saying.

Derived variables

Some statistics from the 2011 Census have to be calculated because the information was not directly collected by the census questionnaire. For example, some census tables provide results that show how far people travel to work. This is derived by using the household home postcode, and the workplace postcode, and calculating the distance between them.

Detailed Characteristics

Tables in the Detailed Characteristics family of tables have a minimum population threshold (size) of 5,000 persons and 2,000 households. Similar to Local Characteristics tables, these contain two or more census variables, such as age and sex, but provide considerably more detail than their local equivalents, as the larger population means the risk of disclosure of personal information is lower.


Suffolk is divided into 7 district each administered by a district councils.  http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/your-council/borough-and-district-councils-in-suffolk/


A dwelling is a unit of accommodation which may comprise one or more household spaces (a household space is the accommodation used or available for use by an individual household).

A dwelling may be classified as shared or unshared. A dwelling is shared if: the household spaces it contains have the accommodation type „part of a converted or shared house‟, or not all of the rooms (including kitchen, bathroom and toilet, if any) are behind a door that only that household can use, and there is at least one other such household space at the same address with which it can be combined to form the shared dwelling. Dwellings that do not meet these conditions are unshared dwellings.

Economic activity

Economic activity relates to whether or not a person who was aged 16 to 74 was working or looking for work in the week before census. Rather than a simple indicator of whether or not someone was currently in employment, it provides a measure of whether or not a person was an active participant in the labour market. A person's economic activity is derived from their 'Activity last week'. This is an indicator of their status or availability for employment - whether employed, actively looking for work, waiting to start a new job, available to start a new job, or their status if not employed or not seeking employment. Additional information included in the economic activity classification is also derived from information about the number of hours a person works and their type of employment - whether employed or self-employed. The census concept of economic activity is compatible with the standard for economic status defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). It is one of a number of definitions used internationally to produce accurate and comparable statistics on employment, unemployment and economic status.

Economically active

A person aged 16 to 74 is described as economically active if, in the week before the census, they were:

  • in employment, as an employee or self-employed, 
  • ·not in employment, but were seeking work and ready to start work within two weeks, or not in employment, but waiting to start a job already obtained           and available.

Full-time students who fulfil any of these criteria are classified as economically active and are counted separately in the 'Full-time student' category of economically active - they are not included in any of the other categories such as employees or unemployed.

Economically inactive

A person aged 16 to 74 is described as economically inactive if, in the week before the census, they were not in employment but did not meet the criteria to be classified as „Unemployed'. This includes a person looking for work but not available to start work within two weeks, as well as anyone not looking for work, or unable to work - for example retired, looking after home/family, permanently sick or disabled. Students who fulfil any of these criteria are also classified as economically inactive. This does not necessarily mean they were in full-time education and excludes students who were working or in some other way economically active.

Economically inactive: ‘Other’

Economically inactive 'Other' includes people aged 16 to 74 who were not in employment and did not meet the criteria to be classified as unemployed for reasons other than being retired, a student, looking after home or family or being permanently sick or disabled.


The 2011 Census statistics are estimates of the whole population. The census counts of people who were included on a questionnaire are adjusted to include estimates of people not included on a questionnaire.

Estimation area

Estimation areas are groups of similar local authorities which were used as the geographical area for drawing the Census Coverage Survey sample, and for the census estimation for undercoverage. Estimation areas consist of either single local authorities, or groups of contiguous local authorities.

Ethnic group

Ethnic group classifies people according to their own perceived ethnic group and cultural background.

Flow data statistics

Sometimes referred to as origin-destination statistics, these tables are matrices which concentrate on the movement of migrants within and across England and Wales, and on the movement of people on their journeys between residences and workplaces. They provide estimates of the flows of people that are either:

  • migrating – people who were resident in one area one year before the census, but resident in another area at the time of the census (the flow of people to and from an area),
  • travelling to work – people who, in the week before the census, were resident in one area but worked in another (the flow of people to and from an areas).

In addition to overall counts of the flows between areas, the tables provide results that classify people by various topics, such as age and ethnicity.

Full-time student

A full-time student is a person of any age who has indicated that they are a schoolchild or student in full-time education. Schoolchildren and students in full-time education studying away from their family home are treated as usually resident at their term-time address.

Full-time working

Full-time working is defined as working 31 hours or more per week. This applies to the number of hours a person aged 16 to 74 in employment in the week before the census worked in their main job, and includes paid and unpaid overtime.


The 2011 Census statistics are published for a number of different geographies. These can be large, for example the whole of England, or small, for example an output area (OA), the lowest level of geography for which statistics are produced.

For higher levels of geography more detailed statistics can be produced. When a lower level of geography is used, such as output areas (which have a minimum of 100 persons), the statistics produced have less detail in order to protect the confidentiality of people and ensure that individuals or their characteristics cannot be identified. In general the boundaries for these areas are those in effect as at 31 December 2011.


The Observatory uses the term Geotype - meaning Geography.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Gross Value Added (GVA) 

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Gross Value Added (GVA)

GVA and GDP are both measures of Output  i.e. the value of the goods and services produced in the economy. They each measure the value of the goods and services produced in the economy, however, GVA differs from GDP in that GVA excludes taxes and subsidies.  

GVA = GDP minus taxes plus subsidies 

Gross Value Added (GVA) is primarily used to monitor the performance of the national economy and is now the measure preferred by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to measure the overall economic wellbeing of an area. 


GVA figures are workplace-based (i.e. based on the Output produced at the workplace). Comparative measures of GVA per Head (also described as GVA per Capita) - where GVA is expressed as a value for each member of the resident population - tend to produce slightly misleading results. Areas where there is a high level of commuting out of the area, such as is seen in Suffolk, produce an understated level of GVA per head. This is because the “wealth creation” of those who commute, is counted at their workplace. Suffolk’s location means that many of the workers who live in Suffolk but work outside the county commute to London, Cambridge, Norwich etc, and the wealth creation of these workers will be counted there. Conversely, London’s GVA per head figure will be overstated, as London is a major importer of labour.

Additionally those areas with a high retirement population will also produce understated estimates of GVA per head, because of this mixing of Workplace and Resident-based measures. Despite these limitations, the GVA and GVA per Head measures are widely used to indicate the economic well-being of an area and to provide comparison/benchmarking with other areas. 

For more details see ONS guide to GVA



A household is defined as, one person living alone, or a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address who share cooking facilities and share a living room or sitting room or dining area.This includes: sheltered accommodation units in an establishment where 50 per cent or more have their own kitchens (irrespective of whether there are other communal facilities), and all people living in caravans on any type of site that is their usual residence. This will include anyone who has no other usual residence elsewhere in the UK.

A household must contain at least one person whose place of usual residence is at the address. A group of short-term residents living together is not classified as a household, and neither is a group of people at an address where only visitors are staying.

Intention to stay

Individuals who were not born in the UK and arrived between 27 March 2010 and 27 March 2011, were asked: “Including the time you have already spent here, how long do you intend to stay in the United Kingdom?” The tick box options were:

  • Less than 6 months,
  • 6 months or more, but less than 12 months, or
  • 12 months or more.


Key population groups

Key population groups is a term that was used in planning the census to refer to groups within the population of England and Wales that are less likely to return a questionnaire. More information is available in the paper „Framework for getting the count right for key population groups‟: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/census/2011/how-our-census-works/how-wetookthe-2011-census/how-we-collected-the-information/working-with-communities-andlocalauthorities/index.html

Key statistics

Tables in the Key Statistics family of tables provide summary figures that cover the full range of results from the census. They are presented in a tabular format, with figures as both numbers and percentages, to allow comparison across different areas.

Local Characteristics

Tables in the Local Characteristics family of tables have a minimum population threshold (size) of 100 persons and 40 households. This means that they can be produced for output areas (OAs) and higher geographies. They provide the most detailed results possible for OAs, and contain two or more variables such as sex and occupation by age.

Look-up files

Look-up files are lists that relate one set of geographic areas to another in exact or approximate terms. For the 2011 Census the statistics produced for a range of areas are done so on a „best fit‟ basis. This mean that census statistics for a given area are calculated as a „best fit‟ of the statistics for the output areas (OAs) that make up or „constitute‟ that area. Consequently geographic look-up files for census statistics are „best fit‟ or approximate. More information about the „best fitting‟ policy for output geography is available on the ONS website:


Other types of look-up file which relate the tables in the 2001 Census to those in 2011 are also available.

Lower layer super output area

Commonly known as LSOAs, lower layer super output areas had a minimum of 1,000 persons with an average of 1,500 persons when they were created from 2001 Census data. If a user is looking at statistics at LSOA level, they know that the statistics refer to roughly five output areas.  LSOA areas were redefined for the 2011 census


Statistical metadata comes in two forms:

  • structural metadata, which are needed to identify, use and process tables of data, for example the names and identifiers of the variable and categories used in a table - these appear in the table as the row and column labels
  • reference metadata, which describes the concepts used in statistical tables, for  example variable descriptions and other definitions that allow users of the statistics to understand what they are measuring and how they were.


Census microdata are anonymised sets of individuals‟ responses to the census questions. Microdata samples are suitable for statistical research and are available for individual and household records from the 1991 and 2001 Censuses, and in time will be available for the 2011 Census.The samples are anonymised, contain no identifiers, and the data is treated to protect the confidentiality of the people who's responses are within the sample. It is therefore neither possible to identify any individual or household from the data, nor possible to disclose any information on any individual or household, using these samples. In addition only approved researchers can access very detailed samples and even then, no microdata can be taken out of ONS‟s virtual microdata laboratory.

Middle layer super output area

Commonly known as MSOAs, middle layer super output areas had a minimum of 5,000 persons with an average of 7,200 persons when they were created for 2001 Census data. If a user is looking at statistics at MSOA level, they know that the statistics refer to roughly five lower layer super output areas. 


Mid-year population estimates

The mid-year population estimates provide an annual series for the population as of 30 June. The 2011, census-based, mid-year population estimates are scheduled for release in September 2012.


Multivariate tables are cross-classifications that bring together information from two or more variables or question responses, in a single table, and cross-reference them. For example, age by sex shows how many males and females there are in any age group. This can then be cross-tabulated further by other characteristics such as qualifications, employment and ethnic group. The combinations of these variables show the characteristics of different population groups.

National adjustment

National adjustment is one part of the components of the census population estimates. This refers to an adjustment applied after an assessment of residual bias in the population estimates for England and Wales. NS-SEC, not classified.  The sub-category of NS-SEC „Occupation not stated or inadequately described‟ which usually forms part of the 'Not classified' category is not applicable in census results because missing answers are imputed.

Ordnance Survey COPYRIGHT

Certain maps on this site are based upon Ordnance Survey material with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office © Crown copyright. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. Suffolk County Council  Licence No. 100023395.

Our Place officer and Community lead

Officers from across the council have been recruited to help support councillors in their division. These ‘place officers’ have, in addition to their core role, used their expertise, local knowledge and links within the organisation to help councillors support local solutions in their community.

Output areas/output area hierarchy

An output area is the lowest level of geography for publishing statistics, and is the core geography from which statistics for other geographies are built. Output areas were created for England and Wales from the 2001 Census data, by grouping a number of households and populations together so that each output area's population is roughly the same. 175,434 output areas were created from the 2001 Census data, each containing a minimum of 100 persons with an average of 300 persons. By using these output areas as containers for statistics, they are comparable in terms of population size. Output areas have a minimum number of persons (100) and households (40) to ensure that confidentiality of the individual or of a household is protected. If the country was divided into equal containers based on size of the area - for example grid squares - there would be a large variation in the population size. A grid square in a city could have 2,000 households, whereas in a rural area it could have one household. Two higher levels of output area geographies were created to improve reporting and publishing of small area statistics. Lower layer super output areas are groups of around five outputs areas. Middle layer super output areas are groups of around five lower layer super output areas. No upper layer super output areas were created.


These are what the census produces; the results. The term encompasses the statistics, the data, the numbers, the tables, metadata, supporting information and the visualisations. Outputs come in many shapes and forms, from high level geography (numbers for the whole of England and / or Wales) to low-level geography (numbers for a small area).


An overcount occurs if people complete (or are included in) two or more questionnaires at different addresses, for example where a child in joint custody is included on the census questionnaire of both parents. Overcount is also referred to as overcoverage. An adjustment has been made for overcount within the estimation process for under and overcoverage.


English Parishes are a very old form of spatial unit which originally represented areas of both civil and ecclesiastical administration. They used to be significant local government areas but now have very limited functions. Some areas of the country have parishes and others do not, making them an unsatisfactory unit for national statistical production. As such, ONS release very little data as parish level.  More information about parishes and communities is available on the ONS website at


Parliamentary Constituencies (Electoral Divisions)

Westminster Parliamentary Constituencies are the areas used to elect Members of Parliament to the House of Commons. There are 533 Parliamentary Constituencies in England, and 40 in Wales. On the Observatory these areas are called Electoral Divisions.

Part-time working

Part-time working is defined as working 30 hours or less per week. This applies to the number of hours a person aged 16 to 74 in employment in the week before the census worked in their main job, and includes paid and unpaid overtime.

Population density

Population density is the number of usual residents per hectare. A hectare is the metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres or approximately 2.47 acres. Populationdensity for each area is calculated using aggregations of the area measurements (to two decimal places) for each output area that has been best-fitted to each higher area.

Postcode estimates

These are estimated numbers of people, by sex, and numbers of households, in each postcode in England and in Wales.

Postcode sectors

Postcode sectors are geographic areas created by Royal Mail to manage mail delivery. There are around 3,000 addresses per postcode sector.


Profiles are dynamic reports generated for a particular area and pull together the relevant data from the 1400 indicators on the Observatory. They are available for every geography be it County, district, ward or parish and for range of topics.  Profiles have also been produced for dedicated purposes such as children centre reach areas and safer neighbourhood team areas.

 Quick Statistics

Tables which fall under the Quick Statistics banner contain statistics which refer to one variable and its response categories from a census question. Quick Statistics are available for output area and higher geographies. An example is the number of people who report Very Good, Good, Fair, Bad and Very Bad health status, reported by output area. Health is the variable and the five options are the response categories, or values that the variable can take. Quick Statistics tables will form the majority of the statistics released between November 2012 and February 2013.


2011 Census statistics are being released for England, Wales and the former Government Office Regions in England:

  • North East
  • North West
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
  • East Midlands
  • West Midlands
  • East of England
  • London
  • South East
  • South West

More information about regions is available in the ONS Beginners Guide to UK Geography available from the ONS website:http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/geography/beginner-sguide/administrative/england/government-office-regions/index.html.  On the Observatory Eastern Region, is included where data is available, for comparison purposes.

Response rates

The 2011 Census person response rate is the total number of usual residents whose details were completed on a returned questionnaire, divided by the estimate of the total number of usual residents. Prior to the Census, ONS set a headline target of achieving 94 per cent response for England and Wales overall.

Safer Neighbourhood Teams

Suffolk Police have split the county in 29 Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) areas, to deliver a local policing experience. This geotype is a useful resource for local Police and those interested in community safety.

Selected area 

In profiles when displaying results for component parts of a particular area the software is not able to identify the unique name of a selected area.   In these cases the data is labelled up with a title of 'Selected area'.   Where the selected area is the area you selected at the start of the profile.

Short-term resident

A Census short-term UK resident is anyone born outside of the UK who, on 27 March 2011, had stayed or intended to stay in the UK for a period of three months or more but less than 12 months.

Standard variable

A standard variable relates directly to a single question as it appeared on the Census questionnaire. For example the 'ethnic group' question translates directly into the ethnic group variable. The response categories of the question map directly to the categories used to classify people or households in the statistics. In some tables the categories may be aggregated or collapsed to prevent disclosure of personal information, but no further processing is applied to the categories, and in the context of the standard variable, they are not combined with the categories of any other question.

The ethnic group question may also be used in conjunction with another question to create a new variable, for example with national identity to create the ethnic national identity variable. This forms a derived variable from two standard variables.

Statistical disclosure control

The confidentiality of personal Census information is paramount, and to prevent the inadvertent disclosure of information about identifiable individuals a range of statistical disclosure protection measures are used. Firstly, records in the database are swapped between different geographic areas. This swapping is targeted towards those households in small areas with unusual characteristics that may be identifiable.

To offer further protection against revealing personal information, some limitations have also been placed on the amount of detail available in the published results, particularly in tables for small populations.

There are also minimum thresholds applied for the numbers of persons and households that must be present in the smallest areas for which sets of outputs can be produced. The smallest geography for Key Statistics, Quick Statistics and Local Characteristics tables is the output area, where the minimum thresholds are 40 households and 100 persons.


The Suffolk Observatory data as presented in Profiles, Views and Reports are grouped into major theme such as Housing, Population, Transport and Travel and then into sub-folders within each Theme.


Usual resident

The main population base for statistics from the 2011 Census is the usual resident population as at Census day, 27 March 2011. Although the population base for enumeration included non-UK born short-term residents, this population is analysed separately and is not included in the main outputs from the 2011 Census. All statistics, unless specified, are produced using only usual residents of the UK.

For 2011 Census purposes, a usual resident of the UK is anyone who, on census day, was in the UK and had stayed or intended to stay in the UK for a period of 12 months or more, or had a permanent UK address and was outside the UK and intended to be outside the UK for less than 12 months.

For information about the main population base for statistics, how other population subgroups

are counted, and all variable definitions, see information about variables and classifications: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/census/2011/census-data/2011-census-user-guide/information-by-variable/index.html


A variable refers to a particular characteristic of a person or household. The variable is assigned one of a set of values which will be either a numerical measure or a category from a classification. For example the 'Age' variable records a numerical age value for a person, and the 'Accommodation type' variable records a category of 'house', 'flat or apartment', 'mobile structure' etc for a household.


There are 175 Wards in the county of Suffolk. These Electoral Wards are the spatial units used to elect District Councillors and as such, all wards nestle within a District exactly. Electoral wards/divisions are the key building block of UK administrative geography, being the spatial units used to elect local government councillors in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan districts, unitary authorities and the London boroughs in England; unitary authorities in Wales; council areas in Scotland; and district council areas in Northern Ireland. 

Electoral areas represented by one or more local government councillors (district and boroughs).