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Making sense of the Census

Making sense of the Census

The 2001 Census marked a major turning point in the way we understand the UK Jewish population because it included, for the first time, a question about religion.

This has allowed us to map the British Jewish population in extraordinary detail and to provide comprehensive statistics on its geography, demography, household make-up and socio-economics. Furthermore, we were able to draw direct, national comparisons between Jews in Britain and Britain’s population as a whole, not to mention other minority groups.

The value of this data cannot be overstated. It helped Jewish organisations across the country to understand their target populations and plan for the future. It informed planning for Jewish schools, elderly care and synagogue development, was used to investigate issues ranging from intermarriage to child poverty, and served as a vital baseline for assessing other datasets on Jews in Britain. In essence, the 2001 Census amounted to nothing short of a data revolution.

The 2011 Census allows us to do the same again, but has the added benefit of providing the second dataset of its kind, thereby enabling us to chart change over ten years. By way of example, this document shows Jewish population change in the 25 largest Jewish areas of the United Kingdom between 2001 and 2011. As a result, it is of even greater value to community leaders and policy makers, so our work this time is heavily focused on using the data to produce research reports and papers for as many Jewish organisations as possible, irrespective of whether they operate at the national, regional or local level.

Reports to date

As part of our general Census programme, JPR has now produced ten reports that draw on the 2011 Census data and make comparisons with the 2001 data. The first of these, published in December 2012, examines geographical data at Local Authority District (LAD) level and offers our initial insights about the UK Jewish population. The second, published in February 2013, also focuses on statistics relating to local neighbourhoods and tells us much about the population dynamics of Jewish communities over the last decade. The third report, published in July 2013, draws on the age and sex data from the 2011 Census, focusing on one particular aspect of the findings – evidence of two distinct Jewish populations. The fourth report, published in December 2013, looks at geographical change in the UK Jewish population, and shows how how the Jewish population is becoming more concentrated over time in several core areas.

As more data have been released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and the option to buy census data tables especially commissioned by JPR became available, we have been able to do much more work. Our more recent studies have covered:

  • Will my child get a place? an analysis of the supply of, and demand for school places in Jewish schools in London (March 2017)
  • Learning disabilities: an examination of their prevalence among the British Jewish population (February 2017)
  • The rise and rise of Jewish schools in the UK: looking at the numbers and proportions of Jews attending Jewish schools (November 2016)
  • Jews in couples: a detailed examination of patterns ofmarriage, intermarriage, cohabitation and divorce (June 2016)
  • Britain's Israeli diaspora: an in-depth look at the Israeli population living in the United Kingdom (November 2015)
  • Strictly Orthodox rising: a demographic analysis of the changing composition of the British Jewish population (October 2015)
  • The JPR guide to the 2015 General Election: analysis of population data in the UK's most Jewishly-populous constituencies (April 2015)
  • Jewish families and Jewish households: a look at the homes in which Jews live through the course of their lives (March 2015)
  • Health and disability in Britain's Jewish population: data on these two topics designed to inform planning in the care sector (February 2015)
  • In addition, JPR has directly advised well over 100 organisations with insights from the census data in order to support their specific interests. This work is ongoing, and the list continues to grow on a continual basis.

    Next steps

    We continue to explore 2011 Census data for a wide variety of purposes, and are currently investigating them to look at the socio-economics of the British Jewish population, a topic we expect to publish on in 2018. We also plan to produce a detailed summary report on the data from 2011, to mirror the landmark report that JPR published on the 2001 data.

    More generally, we regularly use census data to inform studies that are commissioned by different charities and foundations, perhaps most notably in a recent study of the social care infrastructure of the Uk Jewish community which we undertook for the Jewish Leadership Council. If you are interested in learning more about how census data might be able to support your organisational planning, please email our Director of Operations, Richard Goldstein, at

    29 Jan 2015 - Making sense of the Census
    29 Jan 2015 - Jewish life in the UK