Census 2011 shows large population changes in local areas

The wait is over, with the first release of Census 2011 data today. The following datasets were published for England and Wales at national, regional and local authority level:

  • usually resident census population estimates, by five year age bands and sex
  • estimates of occupied households
  • estimates of non-UK short-term residents (see the end of this article for details of these indicators).

What is the story across England and Wales?

56,076,000 people in England and Wales were identified on Census 2011 day

The total population in England and Wales is 56,076,000 (28,502,500 females (50.8%) and 27,573,400 males (49.2%)). There are 22,063,400 households across the country, with an average of 2.4 persons in each household.

Approximately 24% of the population are aged under 20, while 16.4% are aged 65+.

There are an extra 4,000,000 people living in England and Wales in 2011, compared with 2001

The population in England and Wales has increased from 52,042,000 in 2001 to 56,076,000 in 2011 (an increase of 7.8%).

As might be expected, the increase is fastest among older age groups, with the population aged 65+ increasing from 8,312,800 in 2001 to 9,223,000 in 2011 (an increase of 10.9%).

0.35% of the population are short term residents from overseas

There are approximately 195,100 short-term residents from outside the UK in England and Wales making up 0.35% of the population.

What is the story across the regions?

The South East is the largest region by population

The South East is the most populous region with 8,634,800 people, followed by London (8,173,900 people). Just under one-third (32%) of all people in England live in London or the South East. The North East is the smallest region in England and Wales, with a population of 2,596,900 (comprising 4.9% of the England population).

London has experienced the largest population increase

London has experienced faster growth in population than the other regions, with the population increasing by 14% between 2001 and 2011. The East Midlands and East of England regions are also growing at a faster rate than the national average (by 8.7% and 8.5% respectively between 2001 and 2011). By contrast, the North East experienced a much smaller increase of 3.2% over the same period.

London has the highest proportion of young children, while the South West has the highest proportion of older people

London has the highest proportion of young children, with 7.2% of the population aged under 5. At the other end of the scale, only 5.6% of the population are aged under 5 in the South West.

Balancing this, the South West has the highest proportion of people aged 65+ (19.6% of all people). By contrast only 11.1% of the population are aged 65+ in London.

London has the highest level of population density and average household size

Unsurprisingly, population density is significantly higher in London than across the other regions, with 52 persons per hectare. The North West, South East and West Midlands regions also have higher levels of population density than the national average (5.0, 4.5 and 4.3 persons per hectare). By contrast, Wales has a population density of 1.5 persons per hectare (lower than any other region).

Household size does not vary significantly across the regions, ranging from 2.5 persons per household in London, to 2.3 in the North East.

London has the largest level of short term overseas residents

London also has a significantly higher proportion of non-UK short term overseas residents compared with the other regions. At the time of the census there were 69,000 people living in London for between 3 months and one year (0.84% of the resident population), accounting for more than one-third (35%) of all such short term overseas residents in England and Wales.

What is the story across Local Authorities

Birmingham is the largest Local Authority in England and Wales

Birmingham has the largest population of any Local Authority, with more than one million residents (1,073,000 people). A further six Local Authorities have a population of 500,000 or greater: Leeds (751,500), Sheffield (552,700), Cornwall (532,300), Bradford (522,500), County Durham (513,200) and Manchester (503,100).

And at other end of the scale, six Local Authorities have a population of 50,000 or fewer: Isles of Scilly (the smallest Local Authority with 2,200 residents), City of London (7,400), West Somerset (34,700), Rutland (37,400), Purbeck (45,000) and Christchurch (47,700)

Tower Hamlets experienced the largest increase in population between 2001 and 2011

Looking at changes at LA level, the largest increase between 2001 and 2011 was across Tower Hamlets where the population increased by an enormous 30% between 2001 and 2011. A further five LAs experienced population increases of greater than 20%: Manchester (28%), Newham (26%), Hackney (21%) Westminster (21%) and Milton Keynes (20%).

By contrast, 15 Local Authorities experienced a fall in population between 2001 and 2011. Barrow-in-Furness experienced the largest population decline, with the population contracting by 4%. 11 of the 15 Local Authorities experiencing a decline in population were located in the North West or North East region, including three Local Authorities in Greater Merseyside (Sefton, St Helens and Knowsley).

Barking and Dagenham has the highest proportion of young children

Barking and Dagenham has the highest proportion of young children, with 10% of the population aged under 5. The Local Authorities with the highest proportion of young children tend to be located in areas in outer London and the London fringe, with nine of the ten areas with the highest proportion of children aged 0-4 located in outer London Boroughs (Barking, Newham, Greenwich, Waltham Forest, Lewisham, Enfield) or Local Authorities within the London commuter belt (Slough, Luton and Milton Keynes).

Local Authorities with the lowest proportion of young adults tend to be in more rural areas, particularly in coastal communities. Four of the five Local Authorities with the smallest proportion of 0-4 year olds are in coastal areas (West Somerset, East Dorset, North Norfolk, West Dorset). However, the Local Authority with the lowest proportion of 0-4 year olds is the City of London, where only 2.7% of the population are aged 0-4.

Oxford has the highest proportion of young adults

Oxford has the highest proportion of young adults, with nearly one-in four (24%) aged 15-24, driven by the large student population in the city. Other University cities also have higher-than-average proportions of young adults, with more than one-in-five people in Cambridge (23.8% aged 15-24), Nottingham (20.3%) and Southampton (20.1%).

By contrast, there are lower proportions of young adults in coastal retirement areas, with fewer than 9% of people in Christchurch, East Dorset and Rother aged 15-24.

Christchurch has the highest proportion of older people

Christchurch has the highest proportion of people aged 65+, with 29% of the population aged 65 and over. Each of the 14 Local Authorities with the highest proportion of people aged 65 and over are on the coast.

By contrast, only 6% of the population in Tower Hamlets (the fastest growing Local Authority – see below) are aged 65+. Nine of the ten Local Authorities with the lowest proportion of people aged 65+ are located in London.

Islington is the most densely populated Local Authority in England and Wales

Islington is the most densely populated Local Authority in England and Wales, with an average of 139 persons per square hectare. Each of the 19 most densely populated Local Authorities in England and Wales are located in London, with Portsmouth the only Local Authority outside of the capital with more than 50 person per hectare (51 person per hectare).

Eden (in the Lake District) has the lowest population density of any Local Authority with 0.24 persons per hectare.

City of London has the largest level of short term overseas residents

Central London has the highest concentration of non-UK short term overseas with the highest proportions in the City of London (4.1% of the resident Population) and Westminster (3.1%), and significant proportions in Kensington and Chelsea (2.4%), Camden (2.3%) and Islington (1.7%).

Outside of central London, the university cities of Cambridge and Oxford also have high proportions of short term overseas residents (2.7% and 2.6% of the resident population respectively).

At the other end of the scale, 47 Local Authorities in England and Wales have no short term overseas residents identified in the Census data.

Newham has the largest average household size

Newham has the largest average household size, with an average of 3 persons per household. However, household size does not vary significantly among Local Authorities, however the central London boroughs of City of London, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster have the smallest average household sizes (1.7, 2.0 and 2.1 persons per household respectively).

Details of the indicators

  • Usual Resident Population: For the 2011 Census, a usual resident of the UK is anyone who, on census day 2011, was in the UK and had stayed or intended to stay in the UK for a period of 12 months or more, or had a permanent UK address and was outside the UK and intended to be outside the UK for less than 12 months.
  • Population by age: The age of a person is derived from their date of birth. It is their age in years on their last birthday up to and including census day 2011.
  • Occupied households: The number of households with at least one usual resident. A household is defined as one person living alone, or a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address who share cooking facilities and share a living room, sitting room or dining area.
  • Number of non-UK short-term residents: A short-term migrant is anyone born outside the UK who has stayed or intends to stay in the UK for a period of three months or more but less than 12 months.

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  1. […] first results from Census 2011 were released in July, showing large differences from previous population estimates, and likely impact on local funding and deprivation levels. In addition, there were big increases […]

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