Latest Issue

The last census?

The 2001 census was meant to be the most accurate picture ever of Britain's population. Then it found that there were nearly 1m fewer of us than expected.

By Graham Bowley   November 2003

Shortly after graduating from university I went to work at the treasury, where one of my jobs was collecting the latest economic numbers from the central statistical office, or office for national statistics (ONS) as it is now known. Every few weeks I would descend into the bowels of Whitehall where statisticians described the dips and squiggles of the trade gap, or some other data series. Occasionally there was a discreet splutter, and a statistician admitted that the figures I was given last month were slightly inaccurate and had now been revised. We quickly moved on. I never doubted the…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect