Selected Subjects: Occupation and Industry

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PART 4 Selected subjects of census enquiry

4.1 Occupation and Industry

An enquiry into the occupations of the people has found a place in the schedule at each successive census since 1801.

4.1.1 1801 - 1931


The third question put to enumerators in 1801 was: 'What number of persons in your Parish, Township, or Place, are chiefly employed in Agriculture; how many in Trade, Manufacture, or Handicraft; and how many are not comprised in any of the preceding classes?'


The numbers returned in each of these three classes were shown separately for every hundred, parish, township and place in the county tables of the Enumeration Abstract , together with many interesting footnotes recording briefly observations sent with the returns. County summaries for England, Wales and Scotland were printed at the end of the county tables proper to each country, while total figures for the three countries were given in a general summary at the beginning of the Abstract. A separate analysis for the parishes in the cities of London and Westminster 'within and without the Bills of Mortality' appeared in an appendix. Although printed, the results were deemed a failure. In some cases women, children and servants were classed with the householder; in other cases they were referred to the third class as being neither agricultural nor commercial, and in some places where the population was known to be almost entirely agricultural, not more than a third of the people were assigned to that class. When it became clear that the question had failed to elicit comparable answers, no undue labour was spent in attempting a correction even where the number of persons ascribed to the three classes did not coincide with the total number of persons.

1811 - 21 Changes, etc

Accordingly, in 1811 the question was amended to an enquiry into the number of families employed in each class. In spite of inaccuracies this appears to have met with greater success and, with certain reservations, it was felt that '... from the two former classes (ie Agriculture and Trade, Manufacture and Handicraft), and especially the Agriculture, important inferences may with confidence be deduced'. This form of question was repeated in 1821.


Numbers returned at each census were printed in the Enumeration Abstract in the same detail as before, while comments on the value of the figures were given in the Preliminary Observations in each case. Numbers returned from the Islands in the British Seas were included for the first time in an Appendix to the Abstract for 1821 .


It will be seen from the introductory pages of the Comparative Account of the Population of Great Britain in 1801, 1811, 1821 and 1831 , and the preface to the Enumeration Abstract that the scope of the occupational enquiry was enlarged at the census of 1831. County, summary and appendix tables showed the division of families into classes as in 1821, with additional columns giving the number of males of twenty years of age and above classified under the following heads:

  1. Agriculture:
    • Occupiers employing labourers.
    • Occupiers not employing labourers.
    • Labourers.
  2. Employed in manufacture or in making manufacturing machinery.
  3. Employed in retail trade or in handicraft as masters or workmen.
  4. Capitalists, bankers, professional or other educated men.
  5. Labourers not employed in agriculture.
  6. Male servants.
  7. Others.

The number of male servants under twenty years of age and of female servants without distinction as to age was also given. At the end of each county table a detailed alphabetical list of the particular trades or handicrafts included in the third of the above classes and the number assigned to them in the county and the larger boroughs and cities within it was given. Tables showing totals for England, Wales, Scotland and Great Britain according to the alphabetical list were given at the end of Part II of the Enumeration Abstract and for the Metropolis in an appendix; both were reprinted in the Occupation Abstract issued after the 1841 Census.

The additional information about those employed in retail trade or in handicraft was obtained in reply to the ninth question on the schedule: 'How many Males upwards of twenty years old are employed in Retail Trade or in Handicraft, as Masters, Shopmen, Journeymen, Apprentices, or in any Capacity requiring Skill in the Business; but not including Labourers, Porters, Messengers, etc who are to be included in a subsequent Class?' which was followed by a further note: 'To enable you to answer this Question in a Manner satisfactory to yourself, a Half Sheet containing a List of the Denominations of several Trades is transmitted herewith, with blank Spaces and Lines for entry of the Answers you obtain; (it being understood that if any Trade or Business carried on in your Parish or Place does not appear in the printed List, you will specify such Trade at bottom of the said List), making a Mark for each Male opposite to the Denomination of his proper Trade or Business and adding all together for final Entry in the Schedule; to which Schedule you will annex the said printed List with your original Entries thereon'.

The list provided is to be found in the preface to the Enumeration Abstract . It was known to contain far less than the entire number of trades in large towns, especially in the Metropolis where, in the result, 426 subdivisions of trade were found to exist. It was believed, however, that more than a hundred headings would have been inapplicable in rural areas and might have caused confusion. When the returns came in, the adequate space for additions at the bottom of the schedule was found to have been very attentively and correctly filled; it is recorded - as a remarkable instance of accuracy - that the lists returned by all the parishes constituting the Metropolis did not reveal a single defect.

1841 Changes, etc

With the introduction of the householder's schedule in 1841 the occupation of every person, except wives living with their husbands and sons or daughters with their parents and not receiving wages, was required to be stated. It was hoped thus to obtain an exact statement of individual occupations and the occupational assignment by families was dropped. The results were much more detailed than had been expected. It was found, for example, that more terms were used by those engaged in cotton manufacture alone in the County of Lancaster than the total number of occupations allotted to the entire county in 1831 and, for the sake of convenience, they were all tabulated under a general heading 'Cotton manufacture, all branches'. Difficulty was also experienced in arriving at the numbers employed in the manufacture of the principal textile fabrics owing to the number of designations of various sub-divisions of labour which were common to more than one industry. In such cases reference was made to the prevailing manufacture of the districts in which they were enumerated. The results of the enquiry into occupations were published for the first time in a separate volume entitled the Occupation Abstract , the lengthy preface to which contained discussion on these and other problems as well as a series of tables.

Classification of occupations

The Census Commissioners were conscious of the need for a classification of occupations; they were also 'fully alive to the difficulty of adopting any mode of scientific classification which would give general satisfaction'. They did, however, devise the following broad classification of persons returned as:

  1. In Commerce, Trade and Manufacture.
  2. In Agriculture as:
    • Farmers and Graziers;
    • Agricultural Labourers;
    • Gardeners, Nurserymen and Florists.
  3. Labourers (a miscellaneous group which included miners, quarriers, porters and messengers as well as all those whose employment 'is not otherwise specified').
  4. In the Army and Navy.
  5. In the professions:
    • Church;
    • Law;
    • Medicine.
  6. In pursuits followed by other educated persons.
  7. In the Government Civil Service.
  8. Parochial, Town and Church Offices.
  9. Domestic Servants.
  10. Independent.
  11. Almspeople, Pensioners, Paupers, Lunatics and Prisoners.


Tables showing, in respect of the above groups and sub-groups, (a) the absolute numbers and (b) the proportion per cent of the persons in each class to (i) the total number pursuing any occupation and (ii) the total population in Great Britain, the counties of England, Wales and Scotland and the Islands in the British Seas were printed in the preface to the Occupation Abstract . Each table contained a column giving the 'residue of the population' and, in that giving the absolute numbers, males and females were shown separately in two age-groups - under 20 and 20 and above. A further table gave the total number of persons in Great Britain, England, Wales, Scotland and the Islands in the British Seas assigned to occupations arranged alphabetically under the classified headings 'so that any person referring to it may deduct from the totals given the number contributed by any particular head of occupation which he thinks misplaced in the class to which we have assigned it'.

Comparisons with results of previous censuses were made in the preface to the Occupation Abstract between agricultural and commercial occupations. Separate analyses were given of the numbers of each sex in the two age-groups (under 20, 20 and above) employed in the mining of coal, copper, lead, iron, tin, manganese, salt, and mineral not specified; in the working of iron, copper, lead, tin, and metals not specified; and in the manufacture of cotton, hose, lace, wool and worsted, silk, flax and linen, pottery, china and earthenware, glass and glass bottles, gloves, engines and machines. Detailed information was given about the occupations of inmates of work-houses and gaols and of patients in hospitals and lunatic asylums. For reference purposes the preface also contained a table giving:

'... to a given Number of Inhabitants the Number of Acres; the Average Annual Number of Marriages, Births and Deaths; the Number of Persons Alive at certain Ages; the Number of Inhabited Houses; and the Number of Persons Born out of the County in which they were enumerated. Also the actual and assumed Increase of Population resulting from two returns, the Proportion of Persons of each Sex Married Annually under 21 years of Age, the Degree of Education, the Rate of Infant Mortality, and the Proportions of Persons engaged in Agriculture and Trade respectively, for each County in England and for North and South Wales'.

The classified list was only used for a limited number of tables, the alphabetical arrangement, showing males and females aged under 20 and 20 and above, being retained in the county and in summary tables. The figures for England and Wales related to no fewer than 877 headings. This made it impracticable to publish data for every parish, township and place as previously so that, in the county tables, figures were only given for selected boroughs, cities, large towns or important parishes in addition to those for the county as a whole.

1851 New classification of occupations

For presenting the results of the census of 1851 a new classification was used in which the various occupations were distributed under 'Classes' and 'Sub-Classes', or as they have been renamed at later censuses, 'Orders' and 'Sub-orders'. Alphabetical lists of occupations were prepared showing the Orders and Sub-orders to which each one had been assigned. This was the first scientific attempt to classify occupations and, in spite of continual modification at later censuses and almost complete revision, the form of classification was basically the same until 1921.

For the first time masters in trade and manufacture were asked to put 'master' after the description of their occupation on the schedule and to add the number of men in their employ on the day of the census. Farmers who were masters were asked to state how many acres of land they occupied and how many labourers they employed. The return of masters in trade and manufacture proved imperfect and statistics were not prepared, but analyses of farms by size and the number of labourers employed on them were published in Population Tables II after the abstracts of occupations.

In order to give a complete picture of the complicated occupational distribution of the people throughout the country in a form which would be readily evident at a glance, Mr Petermann was requested by the Census Commissioners to prepare a map. It was constructed from the tabular data with which he was supplied and gave with the aid of tinting and symbolic figures a good general idea of the distribution of employments. This map appeared in the Population Tables II opposite page cxx.


It was also found possible to publish for the first time the number of persons by sex in each occupation in quinquennial periods of age to 100 years and over for each county and quinquennially to 85 years and over for England and Wales and for Scotland. The occupations of males and females over and under 20 years of age were shown for each registration division and principal town and of those aged 20 years and over for registration districts. Details of the information given in the main tables of the Reports on this and subsequent censuses will be found in the lists given at the end of this section.


The return of masters in trade was again included in 1861 in spite of its comparative failure in 1851. The main difficulty encountered was that masters often omitted to return themselves as such due to a lack of sufficient interest to study the notes on the back of the schedules. It was felt that the enquiry into agriculture in 1851 also suffered several imperfections. The same information was again required in 1861 but a complete abstract of the returns was not drawn. A sample of the numbers of farmers and their labourers and the size of their farms was prepared for ten counties only and given in the General Report . It was felt at that time that there was some prospect of a system of agricultural statistics in England as well as in Ireland and so the careful and laborious revision of the returns, which would have been needed to ensure any degree of accuracy, was not considered worthwhile.

Revised classification of occupations

The classification which had been drawn up in 1851 by Dr Farr was entirely revised in 1861, and a book of instructions to the clerks employed in classifying the occupations of the people was issued. This contained a list of occupational terms arranged under their appropriate 'Orders', their number being increased to 18 as a result of the revision, and 'Sub-orders', as well as alphabetically for convenience of reference. The terms listed under each Sub-order were obtained in the main from directories of London and other large towns. The Orders were grouped under six broad Classes namely (1) Professional, (2) Domestic, (3) Commercial, (4) Agricultural, (5) Industrial, (6) Indefinite and Non-Productive.

In an appendix to the General Report Farr gave a long and interesting account of his method and opinions on the subject of occupational classification. He also proposed an enquiry into the conditions of industry similar to one which he had instituted following the enumeration at the previous census. A specimen of the information he wished to obtain, supplied by the Manager of one of the South Staffordshire Works was annexed. A short memorandum on the Cornish mines, which had been prepared in 1854 was also added giving details of the outlay, number of men employed, produce and other particulars of the organisation. A copy of a circular issued by Farr to the medical profession was also shown and a draft report on the profession given as an example of the information received.

1871 - 81

In 1871 the list was revised from similar sources, but the classification remained more or less unchanged.

New dictionary of occupations

In 1881, however, it was decided to draw up a new dictionary of occupations since the original dictionary had become obsolete. The great change in nomenclature of occupations which had occurred since its compilation was probably due to the emergence of new branches of industry which required a greater sub-division than had been made previously in the classification. It was also partly due to the fact that many of the names in current use were scarcely more than nick-names which were short-lived but which had, nevertheless, to be retained in the list because they were used in completing the schedules.

To compile the new dictionary was a formidable task. Circulars were sent to leading manufacturers asking for information as to the designations used in their branches of industry and the information returned was supplemented by searches through trade directories and especially by a preliminary examination of the enumeration books from the chief industrial centres.

Eventually between 11,000 and 12,000 different names of occupations were collected as compared with the 7,000 names used at previous censuses. These were classified under some 400 headings which were grouped into Classes, Orders and Sub-orders, taken with some modifications from the census of 1871. The six Classes remained the same except for the substitution of 'Unoccupied' for 'Indefinite and Non-Productive' in the Sixth Class and the number of Orders was increased to 24.

Treatment of 'retired' and 'out of employment'

Up to and including 1871 persons described as 'retired' from any stated occupation had been classed to that occupation. In 1881, however, those persons who had retired from business were classed to the 'Unoccupied' group. Patients in lunatic asylums and all inmates of workhouses over 60 years of age were also put into this class as it was considered unlikely that they would return to their former occupations. Paupers under this age, patients in general hospitals and prisoners with stated occupations were placed in their former occupation as being possibly only temporarily debarred from them. The same rule applied to persons 'out of employ' from any stated handicraft. Clerks employed in any branch of commerce or industry were not assigned to that special branch but to the general heading 'Commercial Clerks'. This heading included all clerks excepting Civil Service, Army, Navy, Law, Bank, Insurance and Railway clerks. Similarly messengers, errand boys, porters and watchmen, except those employed by railway companies or in the Civil Service, were classed under these headings and not under the particular industry or organization in which they followed this occupation. As a result of these and several other less important changes, comparisons between the results of 1881 and those at previous censuses were rendered more difficult, and in some cases impossible.


In order to meet a criticism that masters had not been distinguished from men at previous censuses, the Commissioners in 1891 adopted a plan suggested by the Local Government Board. The householder's schedules used in censuses from 1851 onwards had, on the reverse side, an instruction that masters employing work-people should state this fact in the occupation column, and give the number of persons employed. This instruction had rarely been followed. It was thought, however, that if special columns were placed on the face of the schedule, better results might possibly be obtained.

Employment status

Consequently three new columns were introduced headed 'employer', 'employed', and 'neither employer nor employed'. In the Scottish schedule an additional column was provided to distinguish those working 'on their own account'. The instruction was given that against the name of each person engaged in any occupation a cross should be made in the appropriate column. In numerous instances no cross at all was made. In many others crosses were made in two or even in all three columns! The Registrar General and his assistants appear to have had very little faith in the results shown by these additional columns. Although they felt bound to include the results in the census volumes, they did so with the comment that 'we hold them to be excessively untrustworthy and shall make no use whatever of them in our remarks'. The tables were published for each occupation only for England and Wales as a whole. The returns made in Scotland justified publication of the status details for counties and principal towns as well as for the country as a whole.

The introduction of this distinction between masters, men and those who were neither, but independent workers or dealers, rendered it necessary to diminish the number of separate occupational headings from 400 to 347. It was considered that the sheets on which the abstraction of the entries had to be made would otherwise be too large for the abstractor to manipulate. The consequent minor changes were listed in an appendix to the General Report . Under one of these alterations Army and Navy Pensioners became included with all other pensioners. The number of Orders remained unchanged but Class IV became 'Agriculture and Fishing' and consequently minor changes within the two groups comprising this Class were necessary.

Changes in tabulations

The more detailed age analysis which had been introduced in 1851 was further modified at each subsequent census. The grouping was extended in 1861 for the totals of England and Wales to quinquennial groups from 0 to 100 years and over, but was reduced in counties to quinquennial to 25 years and decennial from 25 to 95 years and over. In 1871 the age-groups provided were quinquennial to 25 years and decennial from 25 to 75 years and over both for counties and the country as a whole. In 1881 the number of age- groups was reduced again becoming quinquennial to 25 and vicennial from 25 to 65, beyond which there was only one group, no age group breakdown being shown at all for counties. In 1891 the occupations of persons aged 10 years and upwards only were abstracted, age columns being provided for England and Wales only quinquennially from 10 to 25 years and for decennial periods to 65, beyond which, as in 1881, there was only one age-group. The method of publication of the occupation data remained the same as in 1851, that is in counties arranged divisionally, with totals for England and Wales in the Summary Tables volumes.

1901 Further changes in Classification

During the course of the preparation of the census of 1901 the Home Office and the Board of Trade asked that further changes should be made in the classification in order to help the work of their Departments and bring their statistics more into line with those issued by other Departments. As a result of certain adjustments the number of occupational headings which had varied from census to census and had been 347 in 1891, was augmented to 382. This number would have been even greater if many numerically small occupational descriptions had not been deleted to provide for the further sub-division of certain important groups, and for the separate tabulation of others.

Coal and shale miners were for the first time separately classed as 'Hewers', 'Other workers below ground', or 'Workers above ground'; persons engaged in iron manufacture were differentiated as employed in 'Blast Furnaces', in 'Puddling Furnaces and Rolling Mills', in 'Steel Smelting and Founding', in 'Iron Founding', and in the manufacture of certain specific iron articles. Generally workers were separately described as producers of metal themselves, or of goods made from the metals. Similar sub-divisions in the cotton, wool and silk industry were made to distinguish the spinning from the weaving processes, and other processes peculiar to either cotton or wool. An attempt was also made to distinguish 'Dealers' from 'Makers' (first introduced in the census of Scotland in 1891), and in certain cases 'Skilled Artisans' from 'Labourers' - 'although the records of previous experience did not lead us to anticipate that these efforts would yield useful results'.

Also at the request of the Home Office and the Board of Trade information was sought for the first time of the number of people in certain industries working in their own homes. Statistics were again given distinguishing 'Employers' from 'Working for Employers' and 'Working on Own Account' in spite of the fact that the result of the previous attempt to do this in 1891 had been held to be 'excessively untrustworthy'.

It was realised that the same difficulties which had been encountered in 1881 and 1891 in the collection of statements of occupations were just as likely to impair the results in 1901. As a consequence the instructions on the schedules for the completion of the occupational column were further revised and framed with the view of attracting the attention of the house-holders to the portions which might concern them. As a further aid copies of a Memorandum containing a list of the insufficient descriptions commonly met with, together with examples of the amended descriptions required, were distributed to enumerators. Copies of the Schedules and Memorandum appear in Appendix B to the General Report 1901 .

Further assistance was obtained from the Board of Agriculture who issued a special Memorandum to agriculturists directing their attention to the agricultural side. The Press publicised the importance of noting the instructions relating to the trades and industries of particular districts, and emphasized that all statements on the schedule would be treated as confidential. The Board of Education called upon the managers and teachers in public elementary schools throughout England and Wales to bring to the notice of the children the national importance of this event. Circulars were issued intimating that the subject might well become one for special lectures and lessons in the schools. In the case of the older children instructions and information were given on the reasons for accuracy in the completion of the schedules and this teaching was extended to the evening schools, becoming a subject not only of interest but of immediate practical use. The Commissioners were sure, when the census returns were received, that these measures had indeed helped to secure greater accuracy in that year than in any previous census.

Changes in tabulations

Apart from changes of classification important modifications in the form of the Occupation Tables were introduced. Administrative counties replaced the registration counties and details were given for county boroughs, urban districts with a population exceeding 5,000 and not 50,000 as previously, and aggregates of county and urban and rural districts. Tables showing occupied females included analyses by marital condition for the first time; the unmarried being distinguished from the married or widowed. As in 1891, a statement of occupation was required only in respect of those of 10 years of age and over, but the number of age-groups was increased to 10, 10 years to 15 being divided into two groups, 10 and under 14, and 14 and under 15, while the age-group 65 to 75 which after the census of 1871 had been merged in the group 65 years and upwards, was reinstated. Supplementary tables showed the occupations of children aged 10 and under 14 at each year, and of 'Pensioners' and 'Retired' according to their former occupations.

Changes in dictionary of occupations

Preliminary to starting the work on these more detailed tabulations it was necessary to assign each occupation returned to its correct heading in the classification. The new dictionary of occupations which had been drawn up in 1881 had been, after minor alterations, employed again in 1891. In 1901, however, further radical changes in classification became indispensable and a new list was compiled; it contained 15,000 designations, classified and indexed, as compared with between 11,000 in 1871 and 12,000 in 1881. The grouping of occupations by Classes was no longer employed and the number of Orders was reduced to 23. Substantial changes in the grouping of, and consequently the occupations assigned to, Orders formerly included in the Industrial Class made comparison between Orders in this Class in 1891 and 1901 very difficult.


The main importance of the 1911 Census enquiry into occupations lay in the increased interest in the difference between an industrial and an occupational classification. Up to 1911 only the personal occupation had been asked for on the schedule, although from 1891 onwards a supplementary question as to industrial status was added, and in 1901 persons were further asked to state if they were carrying on their trade or industry 'at home'. The census classification based on these returns of personal occupation had related partly to definite personal occupations which could be common to several different industries, and partly to industries which could comprise many distinct occupations. In this way clerks, messengers, porters, carmen and engine drivers or stokers, who were engaged in occupations which are of a very similar character in the various industries with which they are connected, were classified according to their personal occupations. In most other cases persons were classified according to the manufacture, trade or service with which they were connected although some of the larger industries were sub-divided in the tables to show the principal personal occupations in those industries.

Both the personal and industrial classifications of occupations have their particular uses and the classification which had evolved combined something of both. From 1851 to 1871 the industrial classification was more closely followed than it was from 1881 onwards. Many workers, however, engaged in occupations common to many industries gave no indication as to the industry with which they were connected and the limited information derived from the single question as to occupation gave unsatisfactory returns both of personal occupation and industry.

Grouping to industry

It was found practicable in 1911 to secure consistently industrial tabulation by classifying the persons grouped under headings relating to personal occupations according to the industry or service with which they were connected, in this way discovering the total numbers employed in various industries or groups of industries and services. The information necessary for this double classification was obtained by means of an additional column on the schedule. The column in which occupation was to be entered related to 'personal occupation', while for persons returned as working for an employer the industry or service with which they were connected, as indicated by 'the nature of employer's business', was to be entered in the column provided for that purpose, when this was not clearly shown by the description in the preceding column.

This additional column, apart from obtaining information on industries, greatly improved the occupational statistics since the addition of the industry was often useful in determining the nature of an imperfectly described occupation. It was generally agreed, however, that under the existing conditions of enumeration a purely occupational tabulation was still impossible to secure. This opinion was in some measure borne out by a very thorough experiment made with a view to testing the feasibility of introducing a consistently personal classification of occupations which should tabulate, by the nature of the process performed by the individual worker, those sections of the list which were classified only according to the nature of the product or of the material worked in.

For a large number of headings in the list, some of the workers under which were believed to be engaged in processes involving special risk to health, cards were prepared upon which the description of the occupation was exactly copied from the schedule. Cards were prepared for over 700,000 workers and it was hoped to ascertain the numbers subjected to unhealthy conditions and secure improvement in knowledge of occupational mortality. The attempt was a failure, for it was found as the result of the test that such workers commonly described their calling merely in terms of the article produced - that under which it was classified in the tables of occupations. In spite of the fact that there are many processes in needle making, it was found that the great majority of the Redditch workers described themselves simply as 'needle-makers'. In the case of Sheffield toolmakers the results were better in that the majority described the nature of their work as well as the product, but here again the proportion who did not afford the necessary information was large enough to make a detailed occupational tabulation impossible.

Bearing in mind the need for comparability in occupational statistics no important change in the 1901 classification, which had proved itself satisfactory, was found practicable in 1911 and the number of Orders and their titles remained unchanged. Nevertheless the groups within them suffered extensive revision. As a result of much correspondence with large employers of labour and others, some of whom provided extensive and detailed lists of the various designations of occupations in their particular industries, the size of the classification was substantially increased. The number of separate headings in the tables, which in 1881 had been 398, in 1891 347, and in 1901 382, was now further increased by sub-division to 472 and the number of different terms by which people describe their occupations to 30,000.

For the first time the Classification of Occupations was not limited in its use merely to the tabulation of census results. It was also found useful by the Board of Trade in their Labour Exchanges, enabling them to co-ordinate their returns with those of the census. More important still, it was published in the series of census reports: this led to increased interest in the classification and to more suggestions for its improvement on later occasions.

Changes in processing

Under the improved means of tabulation made possible by the introduction of the punched card system, many additional details to the occupational statistics to be derived became possible. In 1901, under the old system of 'ticking' it had been felt that the limit of the amount of data to be extracted had been reached and no further particulars could safely be tabulated if any degree of accuracy was to be retained. With the introduction of machinery, data were coded direct from the actual schedules (not, as formerly, from copies made by the enumerators) and then recorded on special cards which were sorted and counted mechanically; the risk of human errors and omissions in copying was lessened and the scope of analyses increased. The most important part of the tabulation process lay in the coding of statements on the schedule. The occupational enquiry was the most difficult and complicated of any; its relative importance can be judged from the fact that of a total sum of nearly 9,000 expended upon clerical work in the preparation of the occupation and industry tables, no less than 4,000 was for coding alone. The code employed in this formidable task was so arranged that the number for the occupation represented the industry as well in all cases except when the industry differed from that most commonly associated with the occupation in question, in which case a separate number was added.

Apart from the increase in particulars caused by the additional headings and terms in the classification, new features included a more detailed study of the employment of young persons and tabulations were made for males and females in each occupation in single years from the age of 10 years to 20 years. Details of marital condition were also further extended. In 1901 unmarried women, had, for the first time, been distinguished from the married or widowed. In 1911 an additional distinction was made between the married and the widowed; married males were also shown separately. The numbers of persons carrying on trade or industry 'at home* were tabulated according to their status, ie, whether employer, working for employer, or working on own account, whereas formerly they had been grouped under a single heading.

It has always been found that the schedules were more correctly filled up at each successive census whatever faults still remained. The additions to the schedule in 1911, however, naturally increased the difficulties experienced by the ordinary occupier in making the return. As in 1901 instruction was given in schools, and the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress co-operated in issuing explanatory memoranda on the occupational section of the return. The instructions on the schedule itself were amplified and a special memorandum issued to enumerators giving precise details of the nature of the information required, with additional details of particular industries viz: (a) Mining and Quarrying, (b) Textile trades, (c) Metal, Engineering, Ship-building, etc, trades. These instructions were reproduced in the Report, Volume X, on Occupations and Industries.


The form of presenting the statistics was materially changed on this occasion. Whereas previously the whole of the details for each county had (with certain modifications of this system) been printed together under each county, the counties being arranged under their divisions up to 1891 and a separate volume for each county in 1901, in 1911 a separate volume was devoted to each individual subject. In this way occupational and industrial statistics were found for the entire country and its parts in one volume published in two parts. The second part was issued in advance and contained one table giving a condensed list of occupations of males and females in each administrative county, county borough, urban district of which the population exceeded 50,000 and the aggregates of rural districts in each administrative county. The marital condition of all females was shown but not an age-distribution. More detailed information of occupation was given in the first part of the volume. In addition it was stated in the report that further particulars as detailed as those given for England and Wales could be furnished to local authorities for administrative counties, county boroughs, and other urban districts of over 50,000 population and for the urban or rural aggregates in each county and the full list of occupations - distinguishing married males, and unmarried, married and widowed females, but without age-distribution - for all urban districts of 5,000 population or upwards.


The experiment in tabulation by personal occupation, which had been conducted in 1911 to carry out an investigation into occupational health risk, and which had been deemed a 'decided failure', was reconsidered during the interval between the 1911 and 1921 censuses by those responsible for the Census Report of 1911. On going over the ground again they came to the opinion that the view of the results taken in 1911 was probably too pessimistic and that it had not been conclusively proved, as was believed then, that a purely occupational classification was impossible.

First industrial classification

As a result of this revised outlook the British Empire Statistical Conference which met in London in 1920 passed a resolution in favour of separate and independent tabulations by occupation and industry. A Committee, on which the other Departments chiefly interested, the Board of Trade, the Home Office and the Ministry of Labour were associated with the General Register Office, was appointed to frame the new classifications. These were planned for use not only in the census, but for any other occupational and industrial tabulations issued by government departments. The Committee recommended that the classification should be based on two lists, the one of industries and the other of occupations, each heading being defined and given a reference number, that the headings should be so arranged as to be capable of grouping into classes according to a fixed and defined system, and that the basic principle of the industrial classification should be the product or type of service and that of the occupational classification the process carried out, and the material worked in.

In order to obtain two distinct sets of statistics it was necessary to amplify, and get an answer to, the industry column on the schedule. In 1911 this column had been more or less optional, couched in general terms under the heading 'Industry or Service with which worker is connected'. It ran: 'This question should generally be answered by stating the business carried on by the employer. If this is clearly shown in Column 10 the question need not be answered here. No entry needed for Domestic Servants in private employment. If employed by a public body (Government, Municipal, etc) state what body'. In 1921 both the columns relating to occupation and industry were more definite and a further column asking the employer's address was added:

Personal Occupation Employment Place of Work

State here the precise branch of Profession, Trade, Manufacture, Service, etc.

Where the occupation is connected with Trade or Manufacture the reply should be sufficient to show the particular type of work done stating where applicable the Material worked in, and the Article made or dealt in, if any.

(1) If working for an employer state the name and business of present employer (person, firm, company or public body) or, if at present out of work, of last employer, adding 'out of work'.

(2) If employing persons for purposes of business write 'Employer'.

(3) If working on own account and not employing persons for purposes of business write 'Own Account'.

(Note:- For Domestic Servants and others in personal service write 'Private'.)

Give the address of each person's place of work.

For a person with no regular place of work write 'No fixed place'.

If the work is carried on mainly at home, write 'At home'.

(No entry is required for any person who is retired or out of work).

This change in the form of the questions naturally ensured much more careful and detailed answers. These enabled the occupational statistics to be improved and secured more accurate and detailed information as to industry. Lists of the principal employers of labour in each area were compiled and the correct industrial code number was marked against each firm - in some cases only after direct enquiry of the firm in question. These lists were used by the clerks engaged in industry coding and the correct classification of all the employees of a firm was ensured in this way, however indifferently the nature of the employer's business might have been returned on the schedule by the employee. The General Report (p.86) stated that without the information as to the name of the employer as well as the nature of the employer's business it would have been absolutely impossible to present industrial statistics in the degree of detail shown in the Industry Tables.

New occupational classification

The introduction of the new Classification of Industries meant a complete revision of what had formerly been known as the Occupational Classification although in reality it had been both occupational and industrial in character. Very few numbers in the new list could be compared with earlier censuses. With certain minor exceptions the figures for the professional occupations remained comparable and also certain others such as fanners, agricultural labourers, gardeners, gamekeepers, carmen and motor drivers, which had been dealt with occupationally in 1911 and a few occupations necessarily confined to certain industries such as tram drivers and conductors, railway engine drivers, firemen and cleaners, guards and signal-men. The revised occupational classification contained 32 Orders divided again in Sub-orders and 611 headings, as compared with 23 Orders and 472 headings in 1911. Comparability with previous censuses was further impaired by the fact that whereas figures had been prepared in 1891, 1901 and 1911 for all persons aged 10 years and over, in 1921 the lower age limit was fixed at 12 years to coincide with the school-leaving age.

In drawing up the new Occupational Classification the Commissioners were faced with the alternative of classifying primarily by process and sub-dividing by material or of classifying by material and sub-dividing by process. The choice was quickly determined by the fact that similarly named processes often differ radically in their nature according to the material to which they are applied, and the system of primary classification by material was adopted. The Industrial Classification, on the other hand, was based upon the product made or the service rendered by the employer. It was arranged in a similar fashion to the Occupational Classification in 22 Orders divided into Sub-orders, but the Classified List of Industries corresponding to the Classified List of Occupations consisted mainly of names of all manner of products instead of peculiar designations of occupations.

Occasionally there may seem to have been divergences from this basic system of classification. In some cases, for example makers of tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, snuff, there were no processes of sufficient importance to call for separate enumeration, and material worked in became the only basis of classification, apart from questions of industrial status and of skill. In such cases it would seem at first sight that the occupational classification had become industrial. The fundamental distinction, however, became apparent on comparison with the corresponding title in the Industrial Classification. The occupational title included only those workers who actually manipulated (or directed the manipulation of) tobacco in its processes of manufacture, while the industrial title included workers of many miscellaneous occupations not directly concerned with the manipulation of tobacco, but in some way concerned with the industry of its manufacture.

In cases where the information provided in 1921 appeared to fall short of that of 1911 it should be remembered that the occupational and industrial tables must be read in conjunction. For example in 1921, for commercial occupations Nos 770-789, no information was given as to the nature of the business in which the shopkeeper (770), shop assistant (775), etc was engaged, whereas in 1911 these workers had been distinguished as butchers, grocers, greengrocers, etc. The industrial type of classification followed in 1911, however, had classed those employed in the grocery trade as grocers, without reference to their personal occupations as shopkeepers, shop assistants, roundsmen, etc merely distinguishing employers from employed. In 1921 the work of the individual as employer or manager, shop assistant, roundsman, etc was regarded as his occupation, and the fact that it was pursued in connection with the grocery trade was an industrial consideration. Details were given in the Industry Tables of the occupation, sex and age of those engaged in the grocery trade, distinguishing wholesale and retail and providing information as to the various classes of workers concerned - shopkeepers, shop assistants, warehousemen, etc.


The method of presenting the census data adopted in 1911 was not used in 1921; the 1901 form of presentation of local figures in County Parts was reinstated. Consequently local statistics for all occupations, but not industries, were given in each of the 1921 series of County Parts in addition to two separate volumes entitled Occupation Tables and Industry Tables . The special tabulation of the occupations of young people at each year of age under 20 was not repeated, but the groups were more detailed than in 1901, being 12-13, 14-15, 16-17, 18-19. Details of marital condition, industrial status, etc were given as before. The industrial tables showed the numbers in each industry by sex, age and the principal occupations for England and Wales and the numbers and principal occupations by sex in each industry for England and Wales, six of the principal industrial regions and certain specially selected urban areas.


In 1931 the scope of the enquiry was slightly extended to include particular mention of those 'Out of Work'. The columns on the Occupier's schedule relating to Occupation and Industry were as follows:

Occupation and Industry
In Columns K and L, give required particulars for every person aged 14 or over who follows some occupation or calling for payment or profit (whether working or out-of-work at the time of the Census), or who formerly followed some such occupation and is now wholly retired.
Personal Occupation Employer worked for in occupation stated in column K and Employer 's Business
State occupation or calling followed. If out of work or wholly retired, add 'Out of work', or 'Retired' as the case may be, after the statement of occupation. The occupation must be stated precisely; vague or indefinite terms must not be used. See instructions. Where the occupation is connected with Trade or Manufacture the reply should show the particular kind of work done - the Material worked in or Article made or dealt in, if any. In the case of Profession or Service the precise branch must be stated. If more than one paid occupation is followed, state only that by which the living is mainly earned. Apprentices and Articled Clerks should be included here. State Name, Business and Business Address of present employer (person, firm, company or public body) or, if out of work, or wholly retired, of last employer. The nature of the business should be fully described, and the product or kind of service stated, where applicable. Vague and indefinite terms must not be used. If the employer carries on more than one kind of business, manufacture or service, the business and business address given should be that of the particular works, etc, where the person in question is employed. But for Domestic Servants and others in private personal service, write only 'Private'. For an occupied person who does not work for an employer, but employs others for purposes of his or her own business, write 'Employs Others', stating also nature of business unless identical with occupation returned. For an occupied person who neither works for an employer nor employs others for business purposes, write 'Own Account' . For persons (aged 14 or over) neither usually following an occupation for payment or profit nor retired from any such occupation, write 'Private Means', 'Home Duties', 'School', 'Law Student', etc, etc.

A further direction as to the unemployment condition was printed among the instructions on the back of the schedule:

'Subject to the special cases mentioned below, the usual occupation should be stated. A person does not cease to have an occupation solely because he is for the time being unemployed.... If a man who follows the calling of a carpenter is in work at Census time he will enter "Carpenter". If he happens to be out of a job at Census time he should enter "Carpenter, out of work", and the particulars given in column L should be those of last employer... But cases may occur where a man has not been employed at his original occupation for a very long time. The question is - what is the occupation by which he is seeking to earn a livelihood. If he is still seeking a living at his original occupation, he should enter that occupation (adding "out of work") even if he has been for a very long time unemployed at it. If, on the other hand, he has no prospect of making a living by that occupation and is getting and relying upon some other work for his means of livelihood, he should state the occupation by which he is at present getting a livelihood. But if a man has done no paid work of any kind since he ceased to be employed at his original occupation, he should in any case state that occupation, adding "out of work" if still seeking to earn a living, or "retired" if no longer seeking to work for a living'.

Tabulation of the 'out of work'

The census of 1931 was the first time when records of persons temporarily 'out of work' had been tabulated. It can be readily understood that it is a subject of which it is not easy to give a true picture from data collected on one particular day of the year. Unemployment may vary according to the time of the year and it is difficult to frame a question on such a subject in a way which will ensure a uniform reply. Certain degrees of unemployment, like sickness, or temporary unemployment for a short time, which is sometimes an inseparable feature of an occupation, cannot be considered in the same category as the chronically and unavoidably 'out of work'. In spite of all these difficulties, however, the economic depression of 1931 was so acute as to justify the decision that some impression of the serious unemployment situation of the country should be attempted.

The Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee made a comparison of the results of the census enquiry in certain industries with corresponding items in the series regularly obtained by the Ministry of Labour. The Committee in their Report published in 1935 concluded that the census returns 'have real value as an indication of the comparative levels of unemployment in different industries'. The statistics derived were extensive and appeared, in their relevant place, in most of the tables in the separate 1931 Census Occupation Tables and Industry Tables .

In the Introductions to both the Classification of Occupations and the Classification of Industries published as part of the series of reports on the census of 1931 the following definitions are given of Occupation and Industry:

'Occupation: The occupation of any person is the kind of work which he or she performs; and this alone determines the particular group in an occupation classification to which the person is assigned. The nature of the factory, business or service in which the person is employed has no bearing upon the classification of his occupation, except to the extent that it enables the nature of his duties to be more clearly defined. This will perhaps be made clearer by an example. A "fettler" (ie a cleaner) "of castings" may be employed in a Brass Foundry, a Bedstead Works, an Engineering Works, or in any kind of works in which articles are cast from molten metal. But the nature of the works in which he is employed has no bearing upon his occupation, and all "fettlers of castings" should be classed to the same occupational group.

Industry: The industry in which any individual is engaged is determined (whatever may be his occupation) by reference to the business in, or for the purposes of which, his occupation is followed.

As a single business will employ a number of individuals of widely varying occupations for the purpose of affording a particular service or creating a particular product, it will be seen that the industrial classification differs essentially from the occupational in that the latter only takes account of the nature of the work performed by the individual, while the former has regard only to the nature of the service or product to which his labour contributes. The man who is occupationally a carpenter, or a carman, for instance, is classified industrially to building, if employed by a builder, or to brewing, if employed by a brewer.

It is a person's occupation, ie the nature of his work, which determines the type and degree of the strains, physical or mental, to which he is subjected, and the conditions generally under which his working life is lived. These are in the main independent of his industrial association, ie, of the industry or service which affords him employment. Hence, it follows that a satisfactory occupational classification must ignore the irrelevant consideration of industry, grouping together, eg all clerks, whether employed in insurance, trade, or railway transport, etc. But industrial association, grouping together all persons, whatever their occupations, who contribute their labour to a particular service or product, is also of prime importance, largely from the economic point of view, eg as affecting unemployment, and as in the aggregate affording a record of industrial development. In the absence of full recognition of the fundamental difference between these principles of grouping, classifications have been framed which, though described as occupational, prove on examination to be largely industrial. But a hybrid classification cannot serve either purpose adequately, hence the need for the dual classification, if information is to be provided upon both these important aspects of national life'.

The classifications employed in 1931 remained, with certain modifications, very much the same as in 1921. Such revision as was made followed from recommendations of the Census Sub-Committee which had been responsible for drawing up the new classifications adopted in 1921. Tables noting all changes effected were shown both for the occupational and industrial classifications.

The Classifications were published as in 1921 and in addition a Dictionary of Occupational Terms giving definitions of some 29,000 such terms was published in 1927. The number of Orders was not increased but certain alterations were made in the scope of their titles. For example, Order No XVI which in 1921 had covered 'Makers of and Workers in Paper; Printers, Bookbinders, Photographers, etc', was split in 1931 and 'Printers and Photographers' composed an Order of their own.

Changes in tabulations

The statistics prepared in 1931 were considerably different from those of 1921. Minor changes in the analysis of the data once again affected comparability. In 1891, 1901 and 1911 statistics of occupations and industries had been prepared for all persons aged 10 years and over, and in 1921 for those over 12. In 1931 the age period was again changed to include only those over school-leaving age, ie over 14 years od age. The terms describing the industrial status of persons were also modified. The old division of 'Employer' and 'Employee', said to have lost much of its meaning in the modern world of trade and commerce, was replaced by the categories 'Managerial' and 'Operative' in occupation and industry tables. The managerial division consisted of employers, directors, managers, superintendents and other persons of like status. The group was further sub-divided as far as returns would permit into managers of primary operations and managers of subsidiary departments.


In 1931 a series of County Parts was again published, but no statistics of occupation or industry were included. These statistics were confined to the two special volumes of Occupation Tables and Industry Tables . It will be seen from the reference lists given below (p69) that statistics were given according to the full list of occupations for each county (with and without any county boroughs), for each county borough and for other urban areas with populations exceeding 50,000 persons and for a number of regions which, with two exceptions - Greater London (the City and Metropolitan Police Districts) and North 3 (the West Riding of Yorkshire with the County Borough of York)- differ from the industrial areas used in 1921. The local information provided in respect of the smaller urban and of the rural areas was similar in scope to that of 1921, but the several orders were supplemented throughout by the addition of certain numerically important occupations and groups of occupations. Some saving of space was effected in the statistics regarding females by the combination of certain orders in which they are relatively unimportant. In the volume of Industry Tables the analysis according to the industrial areas of 1921 was abandoned; in its place the same general plan of presenting local statistics as that used for occupations was followed, so that for the first time statistics for counties and large towns were available both for occupations and for industries. In addition, a number of special tables were introduced setting out the distribution of workers in retail businesses and amplifying in certain other directions the statistics previously presented.


For the first post-World War II census the principle of using entirely separate classifications for occupations and industries was continued and the occupational classification remained basically unchanged since 1921, although a number of points of detail were amended for 1951 as in 1931. Detailed information on the 1931-1951 changes is to be found in Table C of the Occupation Tables for England and Wales. Although the information required to be stated in columns P and R of the 1951 schedule was the same as in 1931, some parts of the tables were not directly comparable due to the raising of the school leaving age from 14 to 15 years, thus affecting the base population; further more the terms 'apprentice', 'articled pupil', 'part-time' and 'unpaid (if helping unpaid in family business)' as appropriate were to be separately specified.

Change in industrial classification

For industry however there was a change. With a view to securing uniformity and comparability a new classification was prepared by an Inter-Departmental Committee, on which principal Government Departments collecting statistics were represented.

The Committee reviewed all the classifications in use, including that drawn up in 1938 by the Committee of Statistical Experts of the League of Nations with its proposed amendments (in 1947) by the Statistical Commission of the United Nations, and made recommendations. The new Standard Industrial Classification was published in 1948 and for the 1951 census this classification was adopted with minor modifications. All the Orders and Minimum List Headings were used but some further sub-divisions were made. Details of the changes between 1931 and 1951 are given in Table C of the Industry Tables .

The main change in concept was to regard the unit for industrial classification as the 'establishment', the assignment of an establishment being determined (without regard to the kind of ownership) by its principal product or, if a service industry, by its principal activity; and to code all persons working there to the major industry irrespective of the stated occupations. Where however premises contained two or more departments engaged in different activities, in respect of which separate records of employment, production, costs, etc were kept, then each department was treated as a separate establishment.


In the censuses of 1921 and 1931 coding had been carried out with the assistance of lists of 'large employers'. For the 1951 Census, this was developed further particularly in regard to the need to identify establishments; and, in addition, a comprehensive index was built up of firms in the productive industries.

Changes in industrial status

The classification of persons in work by industrial status was again under-taken and while tabulations of the 1931 pattern could be derived from the 1951 material, this data was modified further to show employers separately from the managers and to incorporate the three new classes of apprentice or articled pupil, unpaid workers (if helping in a family business) and part-time workers. The distinguishing of the group of employers was at the request of the Ministry of Labour which enabled them to compare the census figures with statistics derived from National Insurance records.

Changes in tabulations

For the first time analysis by social class, socio-economic group and salary/wage earner group appeared in the Occupation and Industry Tables .

Classification of census data by social class was first made in 1911 and the tabulations appeared in the Fertility Report of that census. In 1921 and 1931, the breakdown was mainly for the purpose of the decennial report on occupational mortality. The analyses by socio-economic groups and by salary/wage earner groups were both compiled for the first time in 1951.

Each of the three classifications represented a broad grouping of the units of the occupational codes and, in the social class and socio-economic group classifications, the base population was all persons who were shown as occupied or retired, while the salary/wage earner groups were tabulated from data on the civilian employed population (ie the working population excluding employers, those working on their own account and members of the armed forces). The classification by social class had five groups, that by socio-economic groups had thirteen and the salary/wage earner analysis had six groups. Fuller details can be found in the Occupation Tables .

Quality of Response

Mention has been made of the decennial report on occupation mortality. A test of discrepancy in occupational statement as between the statements on the census schedule and death registration was made, partly because it is essential to the proper assessment of the data used for the occupational mortality investigation, and also to indicate possible tendencies to error in the completion of the Census schedules. See General Report .

Publications - England and Wales

The main publications were the Occupation Tables , Industry Tables and the General Report .

Differences in publications - Scotland

For Scotland, the occupation and the industry tables were issued in a combined volume including also some details of workplace, journey to work (with approximate distances and travelling time) and occupations classified by terminal education age. Beyond these, most of the Scottish tabulations found counterparts in the reports for England and Wales.

One per cent tables for Great Britain

For 1951 a decision was made to produce tables, based on a one per cent sample of the records, which could be prepared and produced well in advance of the main series of reports. (See 2.7).

Occupations and industries were two of the subjects which were included and as the sample tabulations were published in 1952 and the main volumes did not appear until 1957, the usefulness of this measure as a stop-gap can readily be appreciated.


In the sixteenth census the questions on occupation, industry, etc which were asked only of the ten per cent sample, were re-arranged to give added precision and because of the introduction of a precise time reference.

Time reference

The questions related to the week before census day and separate blocks of questions were put to those in employment at any time during the week ending 22 April 1961, those out of employment or wholly retired at the end of the week before census, and to other persons. For those in employment the name of the employer and his business was asked first, followed by the occupation, place of work, whether full-time employment or part-time (and number of hours if part-time), and the last full-time employment of male part-time workers; and for those out of work they were asked whether this was due to sickness. In 1951, questions to all groups of people had been included in a single block. No questions on hours of work for part-time workers or former full-time employment of male part-time workers had been asked; nor had any distinction been made between out of work, sick and other.

Within the total employed population there may be differences between 1951 and 1961 in the assignment to a particular occupation. In 1951 the notes referred to 'usual occupation by which the living is mainly earned' and this may have encouraged people to go back in their employment history to what they regarded as their 'usual' occupation. These differences will be masked by the changes in classification. See page 82.

Comparison with Ministry of Labour

For the first time comparisons were made, both for 1961 and 1951, between the Census economically active population and the Ministry of Labour working population estimates and the results are fully documented in Appendix A of the Industry Tables .

Employment status and economic position

In order to be able to assign the retired and out of employment to socio-economic groups, which was not possible with the 1951 style of classification by industrial status, additional information was obtained by introducing a new classification of occupation by employment status and economic position.

The classification by employment status divides the 'employee' from the self-employed and further sub-divides these groups as follows:

A. Self-employed B. Employees
  1. Without employees
  2. With employees
    1. Large establishments
    2. Small establishments
  1. Managers
    1. Large establishments
    2. Small establishments
  2. Foremen and Supervisors
    1. Manual
    2. Non-manual
  3. Apprentices, articled pupils, formal trainees
  4. Employees - not elsewhere classified.
The classification by economic position divides the economically active from the inactive and provides further sub-divisions of these groups:
A. Economically active B. Economically inactive
  1. Family workers
    1. Part-time
    2. Full-time
  2. Other occupied persons
    1. Part-time
    2. Full-time
  3. Out of employment
    1. Sick
    2. Others
  1. Institution inmates
  2. Retired
  3. Students in educational establishments
  4. Other persons economically inactive
Socio-economic classification

For a full definition of the various groups, reference should be made to pages vii-xii and to Appendix B of the 1960 Classification of Occupations .

The classifications by social class and socio-economic group were retained, although in the latter case the 13 socio-economic groups introduced in 1951 had been replaced by 17 differently derived groups based on the census recommendations of the Conference of European Statisticians. Comparisons of 1951 and 1961 for both social class and socio-economic groups are shown in Tables 55 and 56 of the General Report . The division into salary/wage earner groups was retained for 1961 but was re-defined in terms of the 1960 Classification of Occupations . This analysis is shown in Table 6 of the Industry Tables (Part I) and the full definitions in terms of occupation unit codes and status groups are given in Appendix C in the same report.

Changes in classifications

In 1956 the Central Statistical Office initiated a review of the 1948 Standard Industrial Classification , and a committee on which the General Register Office was represented produced a revised version in 1958 which was used for the 1961 Census. Although there were many changes in detail, the main framework of the two classifications remained broadly similar. Comparison of the 1951 and 1961 classifications was made and published as Appendix D of the Industry Tables , Part I.

As in 1951 the Ministry of Labour provided lists of employers but on this occasion the lists were not restricted to production and construction.

The classification of occupations was quite drastically revised, for in 1957 it was decided that the classification as used for 1951 had proved too detailed for the quality of information available as it contained some 600 unit groups. A working party within the General Register Office was, therefore, set up and was instructed to produce the outline of a completely revised classification which would reduce the unit groups to about 200 and would be based on the International Standard Classification of Occupations . The resulting classification was submitted for comments to interested government departments and to the Medical Research Council and various changes were made as a result of these consultations. The occupation coding of death registrations for use in the occupational mortality analysis began in January 1959 (coding was done for the five years 1959-63) and efforts were concentrated on re-allocating the 1951 index terms plus those discovered since to the rubrics of the new classification and in preparing a new provisional index. After the available information had been supplemented as a result of visits by staff of the General Register Office to various concerns with large numbers of employees, the provisional index was given a final revision and published together with a description of the classification as Classification of Occupations 1960 in November of that year.

Comparison with 1951

A comparison of the new 1960 classification with that for 1951 was made on a sub-sample of 100,000 people from the ten per cent sample of the 1961 Census data. This sample was re-coded to the codes appropriate to 1951 and, by a process of grossing-up, an estimate of the occupational distribution of both sexes was obtained. There were many problems attached to this exercise, not the least of which was the treatment of 1961 terms (such as 'programmer' and 'computer engineer') which did not appear at all in the earlier classification. This process is discussed and appears with a tabulation of results (Table 54 ) in pages 185-192 of the General Report .

Sampling error

To throw some light on the correctness of sampling errors based on the assumption of simple random sampling, some limited numerical investigations were undertaken using a specially selected sub-sample of census data. For full details see Occupation Tables , p.xvi.


As the figures produced were based on the ten per cent sample they are also subject to the problem of bias. For details see 7.3. Bias factors have been calculated at England and Wales level for each Occupation Order, Industry Order and Socio-economic group and are given in Occupation Tables , pp xxxi-xlv, Industry Tables , Part I pp xxxi-xxxix and Part II pp xxv-xxx, and Socio-economic Group Tables , pp xx-xxii.

Quality of response

To assess the quality of response a comparison, similar to that undertaken in 1951, was made of occupation statements at death registration with those at the census. The matching exercise involved all deaths registered in May and June 1961 of people under 75 years of age at time of death; for occupation such a comparison was possible only for those aged 15 or over and enumerated as part of the ten per cent sample.

In addition, a post-enumeration survey was carried out to provide measures of quality. The economic aspects covered (occupation, industry, employment status, economic position and hours worked by part-time workers) and the effect on the allocation to social class and socio-economic group are fully discussed in Chapter 3 of the General Report .


The advent of automatic data processing provided the opportunity and the facilities for ensuring that differences in the publications for England and Wales and Scotland could be minimised since it was decided early in the planning of the 1961 Census to use a single computer with essentially the same programs for the production of the statistics for both England and Wales, and Scotland. With two exceptions not affecting occupations and industries, the same particulars were to be obtained throughout Great Britain, which meant that tabulations produced for England and Wales had their counterparts in the overwhelming majority of cases in the Scottish publications.

1966 Occupation and Industry

For the first ever sample census, the classifications of occupation and industry were essentially those used in 1961. In the Industry Classification, a number of sub-divisions of Minimum List Headings were no longer recognised but additional sub-divisions of education were introduced. The classification was not re-printed. A few extra rubrics were recognized in the Occupational Classification by sub-dividing existing groups. A revised edition of this classification was published in 1966, showing the new codes and incorporating new occupational tables in the index; the classification for 1966 is thus comparable with that used for the 1961 Census. As on previous occasions, the coding of industry was undertaken with the aid of lists of employers which, as in 1961, contained the names, addresses, industry and area codes for all establishments employing twenty five or more persons.

Economic position

The economic position classification (in employment, out of employment, retired, etc) used in 1961 was extended in 1966 to give 27 separate categories using the extra details of employment during the year and on the Monday preceding the census. The classification by economic position is shown in Table A on page xiii of the Great Britain Economic Activity Tables , Part I .


All the main Economic Activity tables were published on a Great Britain basis rather than separate volumes for England and Wales and Scotland and for the first time tabulations were produced relating to sub-divisions of regions (for definition see 6.3). Also for the first time the occupations of persons in employment were tabulated by area of workplace and are shown in Table 2 of the Economic Activity leaflets .

Unpublished data

A number of main tables, which in publication have been thresholded by area or size of cell, have been produced at a lower level as have the leaflet tables and are available for the cost of reproduction. (For details see Economic Activity Tables).

Office of Population Censuses and Surveys/General Register Office, Guide to Census Reports: Great Britain 1801-1966 (London: HMSO, 1977) Crown Copyright. The Office of National Statistics has granted the Great Britain Historical GIS Project permission to computerise this publication and include it in this web site. All other rights reserved.

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