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England: Census Profile

19 Aug 2014

This profile summarises key statistics from the 2011 Census for England and its constituent regions and local areas. In doing so, the profile pulls together and expands on previously published Migration Observatory census analyses for each of the regions of England. In particular, this briefing provides information about population levels, the number, population share, age and gender of non-UK born residents, as well as their main countries of origin and passports held. The profile also compares the 2001 and 2011 Census results.

  1. Key Points
    • In 2011, of the 53 million usual residents of England, 14% (7.3 million) were born outside of the UK. This represents an increase of 92% in England’s non-UK born population since 2001.
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    • Of the 7.3 million residents born outside of the UK, 46% held a UK passport while 51% held only a non-UK passport (3.5% held no passport).
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    • London has the highest number as well as population share of non-UK born residents out of England’s regions, but the highest percentage increase in the non-UK born population between 2001 and 2011 took place in Yorkshire and the Humber.
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    • Among local authorities Birmingham had the largest non-UK born population in England outside of London (238,313), while Boston experienced the highest percentage increase in its non-UK born population since 2001 (467%).
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    • Of the 7.3 million non-UK born residents, the vast majority (71%) were born in Europe or Asia. Specifically, the top country of birth of non-UK born residents was India, followed by Poland and Pakistan.
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  1. Understanding the Evidence

    The census is the most complete source of information about the population. It is particularly useful for obtaining population estimates for small geographical areas and information on the characteristics of such a population. Other sources of information on population characteristics in the UK such as the Labour Force Survey have large margins of error at the local level, because they are based on survey data and rely on a limited number of observations at the local level. The census is based on a count of people and households, with efforts to include everyone, but it is supplemented by a survey to detect and estimate those who are missed at first.

    The latest UK censuses were conducted during 2011, with 27 March 2011 as the official census day of record. In England and Wales the census was conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the National Records of Scotland in Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency in Northern Ireland. There are different release dates for the data in these censuses (including the migration-related data). Therefore, when comparing the North East to other parts of the UK, the current briefing uses only information from the ONS 2011 Census releases for England and Wales.

    When analysing the nature of migration, defining who counts as a migrant is of crucial importance. Yet there is no consensus on a single definition of a ‘migrant‘. Different datasets – and analyses from these datasets – use a variety of definitions of ‘migrant’, including (1) country of birth, (2) nationality, (3) passports held, (4) length of stay, (5) reason for migration and (6) being subject to immigration controls. For example, people who are foreign born are not all foreign nationals; likewise, some foreign nationals may have lived in the UK for decades while others reside in the UK for only a year. Perhaps most importantly, not all non-UK born UK residents are subject to immigration control. Some are the children born abroad of UK national parent(s) – e.g. service personnel. Others are long-term residents who have acquired British citizenship. EEA nationals are also not subject to immigration control, yet are often considered migrants in public debate and in ONS net migration counts. This includes EEA nationals born outside the EEA.

    The data analysed in this briefing are based mainly on the census statistics for country of birth as well as passports held, but not current nationality. The census collected data on passports held, and this can be used as a proxy for nationality; yet nearly 17% of the total usual resident population of England and Wales held no passport in 2011 (ONS, 2013) and data for passports held are not available for 2001, precluding the measure of change over time. When using data on country of birth, it is important to note that many of those included in the foreign-born category will have British citizenship.

    The data presented include statistics for usual residents only, unless otherwise specified. Usual residents are defined as anyone in the UK on census day who had stayed or intended to stay in the UK for 12 months or more (or were outside the UK but had a permanent UK address and intended to stay outside the UK for less than 12 months). In terms of countries of birth, data are available for 160 countries as part of regional totals. At the local level, however, data have not been provided for all countries of origin. Instead, the ONS has identified 27 key countries of origin most common at the national level, and all local analyses of the most frequent countries of origin only refer to the most frequent countries out of the 27 key countries of origin. As such, particularly at the local level, there may be other more numerous non-UK born groups that the current census release does not include. However, the totals for each region of origin are available for local areas.

    See the Migration Observatory video interview of Peter Stokes, 2011 Census Statistical Design Manager, for further discussion.

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In 2011, of the 53 million usual residents of England, 14% (7.3 million) were born outside of the UK. This represents an increase of 92% in England’s non-UK born population since 2001

As shown in table 1, the total population of England was just over 53 million in 2011, and 13.8% of those residents were born abroad. These 7.3 million residents meant that England residents accounted for 91.8% of all non-UK born residents in the United Kingdom. The number of non-UK born residents in England increased by 2.8 million since 2001, representing a growth of 92%. In 2011, there were also just over 4 million residents with only a non-UK passport residents in England, amounting to 7.7% of the population.

Table 1. Key Census statistics for England

 20012011Change (%)
Total usual resident population49138831530124567.9%
UK-born resident population44588008456753172.4%
Non-UK born resident population4550823733713961.2%
Non-UK born as share of England's population9.3%13.8%48.4%
Share of non-UK born population of the UK92.8%91.8%-10.8%
Non-UK passport holders4067734
Non-UK passport holders as share of England's population7.7%

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Of the 7.3 million non-UK born residents in the UK, 52% were female and 80% were aged between 16 and 64 years of age

Of the 7.3 million non-UK born residents in the UK, 52% were female, compared to 51% of UK-born residents. In particular, non-UK born residents were more likely to be female in all but the youngest of age-groups; 51% of non-UK born residents in the 0-15 age-group were male.

At the same time, the non-UK born population had a younger age profile than the UK-born population. In 2011, 80% of the non-UK born population were between 16 and 64 years old (and so can be defined as working age), while the same statistic was 62% for the UK-born population. Specifically, the most common age-groups for the non-UK born population were the 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 age groups, with 25% and 27% of non-UK born residents within each age-group respectively. This means that just over half (52%) of residents born outside the UK were between 25 and 44 year of age, compared to 32% of residents born in the UK.

Figure 1

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Of the 7.3 million residents born outside of the UK, 46% held a UK passport while 51% held only a non-UK passport. Finally, 3.5% held no passport at all

While there were 7.3 million non-UK born residents living in England in 2011, there were also 4.1 million residents with only non-UK passports. It is important to note that in the census analysis, residents with dual passports who had both a UK and a non-UK passport were included in the ‘UK passport’ category. As such, the following analysis refers to residents with a non-UK passport only.

Figure 2

Of the 7.3 million residents born outside of the UK, 46% held a UK passport while 51% held only a non-UK passport. Finally, 3.5% held no passport at all. As such, there were 3.7 million non-UK born residents with a non-UK passport and 3.4 million non-UK born residents with a UK passport in England in 2011. The 3.7 million foreign-born residents with non-UK passports were split fairly equally between those with EU versus those with non-EU passports; there were 1.9 million non-UK born residents with an EU passport in 2011, as opposed to 1.8 million residents with non-EU passports.

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London’s has the highest number as well as population share of non-UK born residents in England, but the highest percentage increase in the non-UK born population between 2001 and 2011 took place in Yorkshire and the Humber

As shown in Figure 3, London has the highest number of foreign-residents out of all the English regions with just under 3 million residents born outside of the UK, accounting for 41% of the England’s foreign-born population. London also has the highest share of foreign-born residents in its population (37%), and it has maintained this lead in both measures since 2001. The foreign-born share of the population in London is significantly higher than the average for England (13.8%) as well as for each region. The region with the lowest share of the foreign-born population is North East, where those born outside of the UK made up 5% of the residents respectively. After London, the region with the second highest non-UK born population was the South East (12.1%), closely followed by the West Midlands (11.2%) and the East (11%). The regional distribution of residents with only non-UK passports follows quite closely the distribution of non-UK born residents.

Figure 3

As shown in figure 4, London also experienced the largest numerical increase in its foreign-born population since 2001, increasing by just over 1 million residents during the decade. However, since London already had the largest non-UK born population in 2001, this actually represents the lowest percentage increase in the non-UK born population of 54%. It was Yorkshire and Humber that experienced the highest increase in its non-UK born population between 2001 and 2011, with a percentage growth of 78.2% from 261,000 in 2001 to 465,000 in 2011. This was followed closely by the East Midlands region, which experienced an increase of 77.6% in its non-UK born population during the intercensal period.

Figure 4

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While Birmingham had the largest non-UK born population in England (238,300), it was Boston that experienced the highest percentage increase in its non-UK born population since 2001 (467%)

In 2011, the local authority in England with the largest non-UK born population was Birmingham, with 238,300 non-UK born residents accounting for 22.2% of the local population. The second largest non-UK born population in 2011 was in the London borough of Brent with 171,400 non-UK born residents. However, when comparing the non-UK born population in the different local authorities within the UK, it is clear that many of largest non-UK born populations within England are concentrated among London boroughs. Among the top 10 LAs in terms of the size of the non-UK born population, eight are in London. In order to provide a broader picture, figure 5 shows the top 30 LAs in England in terms of the number of non-UK born residents by region, excluding London boroughs. In terms of the share non-UK born residents constitute of the local population, this was highest in the London borough of Brent, with 55% of the local population born abroad. In fact, the top 10 LAs with the highest non-UK born population share are all in London; the local authority with the highest foreign-born population share in 2011 outside of London was Slough in the South East with 39% of residents born outside of the UK. The local authority with the smallest non-UK born share (2.2%) was Redcar and Cleveland in the North East.

Figure 5

While the non-UK born population grew in all local authorities in England between 2001 and 2001, it did so to significantly different extents. Numerically, it grew the most in Birmingham, increasing by 77,000 extra residents from 161,300 in 2001 to 238,300 in 2011. In terms of percentage growth, however, the highest increase in the non-UK born population took place in the Boston local authority in the East Midlands. The non-UK born population there grew by 467% from 1,700 in 2001 to 9,800 in 2011. This was followed by South Holland (+225%), also in the East Midlands, and Fenland (+211%) in the East of England. Figure 6 shows the top 30 percentage increases in England by region.

Figure 6

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Of the 7.3 million non-UK born residents, the vast majority (71%) were born in Europe or Asia. Specifically, the top country of birth of non-UK born residents was India, followed by Poland and Pakistan

Of the 7.3 million non-UK born residents, the vast majority (71%) were born in Europe or Asia (see figure 7). Specifically, 36.5% were born in the rest of Europe (2.7 million) and 35.5% were born in the Middle East and Asia (2.5 million). Within Europe, similar numbers of non-UK born residents were born in the EU Accession countries (1.1 million) and the ‘Old’ EU countries (895,000). In terms of Asia, most non-UK born residents born in the continent came from Southern Asia (1.6 million).

As shown in figure 8, the most common country of birth after the UK was India, with 682,000 Indian-born people resident in England in 2011. This was followed by Poland (561,000 residents) and Pakistan (477,000). Figure 8 shows the top 15 countries of birth of non-UK born residents, highlighting the numerical as well as percentage increase in their numbers since 2001.

When comparing 2001 and 2011 census data, it was the Polish-born group that experienced the highest increase in its numbers both numerically and proportionally. The number of Polish-born residents grew by 504,000 people from 57,000 in 2001, representing a nearly 10-fold (890%) increase. Indian-born residents experienced the second largest numerical increase (extra 232,000 residents), but since it was already one of the most common countries of birth of non-UK born residents in 2001, the percentage increase in its numbers (52%) was below average. The second highest percentage increase occurred for the Chinese-born, who increased their numbers by 210% from 47,000 in 2001 to 146,000 in 2011.

Figure 7

Figure 8

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The EU-born population makes up the largest share of the population in Kensington and Chelsea, while Birmingham had the largest non-EU born population share in 2011

The EU-born population makes up the largest share of the population in Kensington and Chelsea, with 26,600 EU-born residents accounting for 16.8% of the local population (see Figure 9). The majority (86.5%) of this population was born in ‘Old’ EU countries, with 23,000 residents born in countries that were members of the EU prior to 2011. Numerically, the largest EU-born population was resident in Ealing (40,300), representing 12% of the local population and a quarter (24.7%) of Ealing’s foreign-born residents.

Figure 9

In terms of the population born in countries that joined the EU between 2001 and 2011, this represented the highest percentage of population in Boston, with 10.6% of Boston’s residents (6,800 people) born in the EU Accession countries. This also represents 70% of the total non-UK born population in Boston. Overall, there were 7,900 people born in the EU resident in Boston in 2011, accounting for 12% of the local population and 80% of Boston’s foreign-born.

Conversely, it was Birmingham that had the largest non-EU born population in 2011, with 208,800 residents born outside of the EU, accounting for nearly a fifth (19.5%) of Birmingham’s population and 87.6% of its non-UK born residents. However, in terms of population share, the non-EU population made up the largest percentage of the local population in Brent (43.6%) and the largest share of foreign-born residents (89%) in Oadby and Wigston.

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Evidence gaps and limitations

There are two main limitations of the census. Firstly, it is typically only conducted every 10 years. Therefore, other sources of information are important in order to update the information between censuses. Secondly, there are only a limited number of questions included in the census. Therefore, sources of information on the broader characteristics of the population can also complement the census information.

While the census aims to include the entire population, it does have a certain margin of error. For England and Wales as a whole, the relative confidence interval at the 95% confidence level published by the ONS was 0.15% (83,000 people more or less than the estimate). To give an example at the more local level, for London’s usually resident population, the relative confidence interval at the 95% level was 0.41%, suggesting a 95% probability that the true value of the population lies somewhere between 8,207,000 and 8,274,000 persons (ONS, 2012). Specific confidence intervals are not currently available for census data relating to country of birth.

References

  • Office for National Statistics. “Detailed country of birth and nationality analysis from the 2011 Census of England and Wales.” London, May 2013.
  • Office for National Statistics. “Confidence Intervals for the 2011 Census.” London, December 2012.

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