First 2011 England and Wales census data released

In July, the first data was released from the 2011 Census, which details population and household estimates for England and Wales every 10 years. This is the most up-to-date data available on how many people live in England and Wales, 94% of the usual adult population completed the 2011 Census. The data will be used to guide Government policy and resource allocation for the next 10 years, but it’s also a great source of baseline data for anyone interested in product development and market research, so I’m going to quickly highlight the key numbers.

The population of England and Wales in 2011 was 56.1 million people, 28.5 million of whom were women and 27.6 million men. This is the largest the population has ever been, growing 7.1 percent since the 2001 census. There’s never been a faster 10 year growth period since the Census began in 1801, nearly double the growth in the previous 1991-2001 period. England had the 5th fastest growing population of the 27 EU states, with Wales 11th. Births and deaths account for around 44% of this change, with migration accounting for the remainder.

The population has also changed demographically. There were more people over the age of 65 than in any previous census, 16.4 percent of the population or 1 in every 6 people. Looking back, the median age has risen from 25 in 1911 to 39 a hundred years later. There were also more people than ever before reaching 90 years of age, 430,000 of them, nearly 100,000 more so than in 2001. Over 90’s were nearly three times more likely to be women than men.

Interestingly, there were 3.5 million children under the age of 5, a growth of 406,000 in this age bracket, which contrasts with a generally declining percentage of the population under 14. This is accounted for by the Office for National Statistics as an increase in the total fertility rate and an increase in the population of women of child-bearing age due to migration.

Unlike the 1991-2001 period, every region in England and Wales experienced population growth, with London experiencing the greatest at 11.6 per cent, an extra 850,000 residents and the South East also growing 7.6 per cent. The area with the smallest increase, the North East, which shrank between 1991 and 2001, grew by 2.2 percent in 2001-2011. The London local authorities of Tower Hamlets and Newham grew by more than 20%. Manchester reversed a decline in both 1991 and 2001 to grow by 19%, the third fastest growing local authority in England and Wales.

Population growth in London has meant a decreased percentage of it’s population is over 65, whilst all other regions have increased percentages of over 65’s.

London is the most densely populated region of England and Wales, with 5,199 residents per square kilometre. This is 14 times the England and Wales average of 371. Nineteen of the top 20 most densely populated local authorities are in London, only Portsmouth joins them. Other relatively densely populated areas are the West coast stretching from Leeds and Bradford to Manchester and Liverpool, the areas around Newcastle and Birmingham and the South West coast around Southampton and Portsmouth.

England is more densely populated than any other G8 country, and the third most densely populated country in the EU, after the Netherlands and Malta. Wales is more densely populated than France, the United States, Canada or Russia.

All of these people lived in 23.4 million households, the second smallest increase in the last 100 years, reflecting a decrease in the number of one person households (the Labour Force Survey suggests an increase of nearly 20% of the number of people aged 20-34 living with their parents). The number of people living in these households has almost halved since 1911, to 2.4 in 2011.

This data provides an up-to-date snapshot of how many people are living in England and Wales and where, a very useful baseline for anyone interested in creating products or services for these regions. The Office for National Statistics has an interactive comparison tool for the 2001 and 2011 data to help explore these trends. More data will be released over the next year.

Source: 2011 Census - Population and Household Estimates for England and Wales, March 2011