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Geography and Environmental Science

Research project: Estimating Health Census Geographies: Using Synthetic Estimation with Secondary Survey and Census Data

Currently Active: 

This project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council's Secondary Data Initiative and is led by Professor Graham Moon. Publications are continuing to emerge and further research is being undertaken via an ESRC NCRM project led by Prof Nikos Tzavidis (Social Statistics, Southampton), Innovations in Small Area Estimation Methodologies (ISAEM)

Future national censuses are unlikely to be undertaken solely using traditional methods. It is widely acknowledged however that there will continue to be a requirement for small area data extending across the public and private sectors. This research project investigated one potential methodology - namely multilevel small area synthetic estimation (ML-SASE) - for providing such small area estimates.

The project had two general aims:

First, to test the effectiveness of ML-SASE as a method for generating small area data on the four "health" variables currently and consistently provided for all national elements of the UK Census (England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) - self-assessed health, limiting long term illness, carer responsibilities and long-term sickness or disability.

Second, to contribute to the on-going debate about alternatives to the traditional census. While much attention has focussed on a census replacement strategy which anticipates the integration of administrative data sources, estimation methodologies drawing on governmental investments in large scale social surveys offer a plausible alternative.


The project commenced on the 1st January 2013 and is ran formally until the 31st December 2014.

Related research groups

Population, Health and Wellbeing (PHeW)
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