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Changes to the migrant population of the South West of England

13 Oct 2013

Oxford University’s Migration Observatory releases comprehensive census analysis of the region.

The first comprehensive analysis of the migrant population of the South West of England has been released today by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory.

It showed that the area has one of the smallest foreign-born populations of any of the 10 regions of England and Wales (it ranks 8th out of 10) but that this population, nonetheless, increased by 155,261 (62%) between 2001 and 2011.

The spread of this increase was uneven, with some areas – such as Bournemouth and Bristol – seeing the foreign-born population increase by more than 100%, while Purbeck is the only area in whole of England and Wales where the proportion of migrants in the population (though not the absolute number) has actually declined since 2001.

Numbers and shares:

  • In 2011, the total usual resident population of the South West stood at 5,288,935. About 8% of those residents (404,660) were born outside of the UK. This represents an increase of 62% (155,261) in the non-UK born population of the region since2001.
  • In 2011, 45% of the non-UK born population of the South West held a UK passport, and 50% held only a non-UK passport. The rest (5%) held no passport
  • In both 2001 and 2011, the South West occupied the 8th position in terms of population numbers of non-UK born residents out of the ten regions of England and Wales. In terms of the population share, it occupied the 8th position in 2011, down from 7th position in 2001.

Regional distribution:

  • In 2011 Bristol had the highest number (63,126), while Bournemouth had the highest population share (15%), of non-UK born residents in the region
  • Between 2001 and 2011, the total non-UK born population grew the most in Bristol (31,815 additional residents), but the biggest percentage increase of 109% in the non-UK born population occurred in Bournemouth.
  • After Bournemouth and Bristol the areas which saw the biggest percentage growth in the migrant population were Swindon (97%) and Exeter (94%)
  • The smallest foreign-born population in 2011 was in the Isles of Scilly unitary authority, with 133 non-UK born residents representing 6% of the local population of 2,203. While the lowest population share of non-UK born residents was the district of Torridge in Devon (3.4%).
  • The non-UK born population grew the least in the district of Purbeck in Dorset, increasing by an estimated 8 residents between 2001-2011; this represents a marginal increase of 0.3%, the lowest in the region, as well as in England and Wales as a whole. Purbeck was also the only area in the UK which saw the proportion of migrants in its population decline between 2001-2011, with a slight decrease of 1%.

Migrant profiles:

  • Residents born in Poland represented the most numerous non-UK born group in the South West in 2011 (45,099 residents) followed by residents born in Germany (32,447), India (26,173), and Ireland (24,165) and the USA (12,104).
  • Polish nationals were the most common foreign-passport holders resident in the South West (42,824).
  • 96.7% of the population of the South West spoke English as their main language. Of the 3.3% (176,625) that did not, 83% could speak English well or very well, and only 2% (4,211) did not speak any English at all. This is a higher than average level of English proficiency compared with other regions of England and Wales.
  • Among those for whom English or Welsh were not the main language, the most commonly spoken main language was Polish (24%), followed by Chinese languages (7.5%) (Mandarin, Cantonese and all other Chinese languages) and Portuguese (4.4%).

Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva, the Senior Researcher leading the census project at the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, said: “There are very significant variations in the way that migration has affected the South West between 2001 and 2011. Many of the larger towns – like Bournemouth, Bristol, Exeter, Swindon and Plymouth – have seen sizable increases in their migrant populations, both numerically and as a share of the population. But many other parts of the region have seen more modestchanges. Indeed, Purbeck is the only place in England and Wales where the proportion of migrants in the population actually declined during this period.

“While the South West has one of the smallest migrant populations of England and Wales’ ten regions it still grew by more than 155,000 (62%) in 10 years.”

Ends

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