Friday, February 22, 2013

School Census 2012/2013

The School Census 2012/2013 relating to to students of nursery, primary, post primary and special schools in the North has been published. The census data includes a breakdown of the religion of the students. As the correlation between religion and voting patters is very strong, one can assume that by looking at demographic trends in the schools today, we can get an indication of voting trends in the ballot box tomorrow.

The graph below uses the data to show us the trends over the last 11 years among the three main groups 'Catholic', 'Protestant/Other Christian' and 'Other'.

The trend is clear to see. The Catholic percentage of the student population remains steady at 50.9%. The Protestant/Other Christian percentage has declined further and now stands at 39.6% (down from 39.9%). The 'Other' group has increased 0.3% to 9.5%.

Looking at the graph, initially it appears that the 'Other' group has increased in line with the decrease in the 'Protestant/Other Christian' group. This of course would be to assume that the 'Other' group (which includes Non Christian and Other/No Religion/Not Recorded) is made up entirely of students from Protestant communtiy backgrounds.

As the data on religious breakdown by age from the 2011 census has not yet been released, we must use the data from the 2001 census (for now, I will update on release of 2011 data). In the 2001 census NISRA allocated children and teenagers of the 'Other/No Religion group' into both community backgrounds (religion or religion brought up in) as follows

•For children aged 5-11, those who were declared as 'None/Not Stated': 24.3% to 'Catholic', 40.0% to 'Protestant and other Christian', 0.5% to 'Non-Christian, and 35.2% to 'None'

•For children aged 12-18, those who were declared as 'None/Not Stated': 25.4% to 'Catholic', 46.5% to 'Protestant and other Christian', 0.5% to 'Non-Christian, and 27.6% to 'None'

Using these figues to re-allocate the 'Other/No Religion/Not Recorded' group in the Schools census figures, we get a truer reflection of the community background of students. Students of a Catholic community background have increased to 53.3%. Students of a Protestant community background has decreased to 43.7%.

Leaving aside the 3% 'Others', the split between students of Catholic and Protestant community backgrounds stands at 54.9%/45.1%.


  1. Teriffic analysis Enda, the trend is actually accelerating as the youthful bias of Catholics over years past become the child bearing cohort of today. I can only see this trend going in one direction into the future

  2. True Bangordub. It is currently a swing of circa 0.1% per annum. The census figures by age might give us an indication of how much the 55/45 split may widen.

  3. This blogs interest in demographics is solely to determine futute voting intentions.

    If the correlation between religion and voting patterns were not so close your accusations of sectarian headcounts such as the one which was used to carve up thee northern state against the will of the people may have merit.

  4. RationationalistMarch 6, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    Anonymous, a few points.

    Economically the Republic is not poor. Despite the global economic problems the Republic remains one of the world's wealthiest nations. Per capita, the Republic is better off than the UK as a whole and significantly better off than the North.

    But, a question if I may. What do you find so attractive about the Union?

    I understand the "I'm born British argument". That's based on identity and culture and other intangibles that make us who we are.

    But looking at more objective factors it's hard to find one answer as to why the Union is the best thing for the North.

    Economically, the North would probably be richer in a United Ireland.

    Even if that were not the case, do you feel comfortable sponging off the citizenry of England?

    Politically, the North would have a bigger say in the destiny of a United Ireland. In the UK, the North is too small to matter so gets pulled along with whatever is decided in London.

    If you think things like that don't matter look, for example, at the both sides of the Stormont Executive fighting and failing to get corporation tax rates devolved to the Assembly. Why? The UK Treasury figured that it'd take businesses out of England.

    Meanwhile, Down in Dublin however, Google, Facebook, PayPal etc have their European headquarters...

  5. Ill be posting the top ten benefits of Irish reunification very soon. A United Ireland makes sense.

  6. Great idea for a post Enda, would love to see it.

    On the original post itself. I think it's a bit of a leap to shoehorn the 'other' category into catholic or protestant. Is there evidence to suggest that those self-defining as 'other' follow the sectarian voting patterns? Fair enough for those who self-define catholic or protestant (though I'd like to see a proper analysis of how true this is), but other?

    As to the comments, what would people think of a restricted commenting policy to keep things a) civil and b) intelligent. (and Im not just talking about the unionist)

  7. "bit of a leap to shoehorn the 'other' category into catholic or protestant"

    Maybe so. But that's what the census people do when compiling their figures.

    I was on the verge of restricting comments and the comments on this thread have forced my hand

  8. If you are not already on it, the new statistics was released for 2013/14 and available at the top link here:

    In summary: 51.1% Catholic, 39.2% Protestant/Other Christian, 9.7% other/none.

    Add another data point to your plot. :)