England and Wales population up

A British crowd The population has grown by 7% in a decade, the Census showed

The population of England and Wales has reached 56.1 million, up by 3.7 million in a decade, the 2011 Census shows.

It is the largest growth shown by any census since they began in 1801.

The population in England was 53 million on 27 March 2011 when the census was taken, about 400,000 more than official estimates.

In Wales the population was 3.1 million. Around 55% of the 3.7m increase was attributed to net migration.

The census showed that the population for England and Wales was greater than official estimates rolled forward from 2001 - by just over 500,000.


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Data shows that from March 2001 to March 2011, there were 6.6 million births and five million deaths in England and Wales, leading to an increase in the population of 1.6 million.

The Office for National Statistics said this accounted for around 44% of the total increase in population size, with the remainder being due to migration.

Population by age and sex, England and Wales, 2011

Population by age and sex, England and Wales, 2011

BBC home editor Mark Easton says the most likely reason for the discrepancy between the official estimate and the actual population is inaccurate migration data.

It is notable that the number of people in their 20s has risen from 6.6m to 7.6m - that additional one million people are most likely to be migrant workers, he adds.

The latest rise compares with a rise in population of 1.6 million between 1991 and 2001.

The population projections published by the ONS will be revised upwards in the autumn.

On the night of the census there were 23.4 million households in England and Wales, with the average household size being 2.4 people per household in 2011, just over half of the 4.3 residents per household 100 years earlier.

The 2011 Census also showed the average population density was 371 people per square kilometre; however, in London this figure was 5,200.

If the London figures were excluded, the average population density for the rest of England and Wales was 321 people per square kilometre, the ONS said.

All regions saw population growth between 2001 and 2011, with the highest growth in London, the East of England and the East Midlands.

Other population data showed:

There are almost half a million more people living in England and Wales than official estimates suggested. The most likely reason for that under-counting is inaccurate migration data.

It is notable that the number of people in their 20s has risen from 6.6m to 7.6m - the additional one million people are most likely to be migrant workers.

The increase in the number of under-fives by 400,000 is also a consequence of immigration, but increasing fertility among British-born women is the key driver in pushing up the fertility rate.

Half of the total increase in population was in London, the South-East and East regions of England.

The Office for National Statistics says that about 55% of the population increase was the result of net migration.

The population projections published by the ONS will be revised upwards in the autumn.

  • there were almost a million more women than men in England and Wales - 27.6 million men v 28.5 million women
  • the median age of the population - where half the population is younger and half is older - in England and Wales was 39, with the median age for men being 38 and for women 40
  • there were 406,000 more under-five-year-olds than in 2001
  • one in six people in England and Wales in 2011 was aged 65 and over
  • the percentage of the population aged 65 and over was the highest seen in any census - at 16.4%
  • there were 430,000 residents aged 90 and over in 2011 compared with 340,000 in 2001 and 13,000 in 1911
  • Cardiff saw the greatest population rise of anywhere in Wales, growing by 12%

The public were asked questions about their jobs, health, education and ethnic background. It was the first time people could fill in the form online.

The form was compulsory, but a question about religion was optional. The answers are used to plan public services.

Three different censuses happened on the one day. Northern Ireland and Scotland each managed their own, and these were run separately from the one which was sent to 25.4 million households in England and Wales.

Northern Ireland's population rose to 1.81 million - the highest figure ever - according to its census.

The number of people increased by 7% over the last decade, broadly in line with the figure for England and Wales.

The just-published figures showed an increase in the proportion of elderly people and a decrease in the percentage of children under 16.

Figures for Scotland will be released later this year.


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  • Comment number 189.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    European Parliament must open investigation of Britain's population claim. Britain has been sending too many MPs to European Parliament by inflating its population. Government had cancelled the ID card project because it could have revealed the Britain's real population. That is why the project had been cancelled. Count the number of people on Council tax bills and found out the truth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Giving it all away, there soon will not be enough for anyone!

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    Mark Easton's apparent shock at the rocketing numbers is shocking - Mark, do you really think anyone believes your apparent shock? I'm shocked at this pretence of shock, and shocked that you'd even try...

    The country is full, you and your multiculturalism-supporting pals are keen to cram even more in, and, as usual, we are not asked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    So the nett increase only 370,000 per annum (based undoubtedly on erroneous figures) - although just a tad higher than envisaged methinks.
    Assume the politicians will say this is good for Britain etc etc etc ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    no benefit from a rising population in todays overcrowded world

    policy should be to reduce GB population to a more sustainable figure

    easiest way would be to stop all child benefits & other attractions for the worlds poor. secure borders & send back all those here illegally, fraud marriages etc. ban foreign marriages unless there is a benefit to the UK.

    this would help CO2 targets water supply

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    immigrants know how to fill in a benefits form, just analyse those figures if you want accurate numbers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    This is a scandalous and not unexpected revelation. And so obviously unplanned as to be clearly government (Labour) incompetence. I guess it would be too much to sanction the ministers involved - virtually all have been well rewarded with peerages and new roles since - some like Brown unbelievably so with his new UN role. However an enquiry is a must to find out why it happened.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    After listening to Yvette Cooper discuss this topic on the BBC at the weekend, I can only conclude that Labour are still in denial over this issue and that if they ever get back in it'll be more of the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    UK only a small island yet we let more and more people in.They go for min wage jobs because they can aford to live because homes are free plus bills etc yet we get no handouts if we lose our homes etc.Soon as they have a uk born child thats it they made for life in the uk!!! more handouts!!!, to late uk a soft touch get rid of human rights be a good start.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Bravo Tony! The largest percentage increase since records began. You must be very proud? All those lovely, lovely new labour voters. No wonder the average age of a first time buyer is now 35. And before the lefties shout racist bigot at me I'll say basic maths and pressure on finite resources isn't about colour. The immigrants could be little green martians. The point still stands

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    Wow! England is packed full. We should send a third of the population to Scotland. They've got load of room up there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Depends on whether you want to be British English (ie indigionous white in general), or part of a multi-cultural population.
    Britain is considered to be a Christian country, if you do not want to be British, English, and Christian, I think you should move to a country that supports your way of life, not create enclaves in this one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    "..it will not change under Labour or tory,so i now will vote bnp."

    I won't, although there are plenty who will. But the hand-wringers in the 3 main parties still don't believe they did or are doing anything wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    The population problem is caused by ill educated, unskilled, lazy, obese, yobbish english citizens who don't work and have very large families. Personally I find the ill educated, unskiled immigrant workers to be quote pleasant. Any way we can boot the english yobs out instead?

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Economies are driven by people. The more people you have the more likely the bigger economy you have. The south east of our country may be congested but many many parts are far from it and people who live there often complain about the lack of business or work in their area. The Daily mail complained when the working migrants came and complained again when they started leaving. Sigh!

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    Britain is a rich country, so we can afford to give many more asylum-seekers and migrants a refuge and life amongst us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    What a depressing display of bigotry today.

    Don't bother to vote on this - I know the vast majority will be negative.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    how stupid can you get simple primary school maths if you have an island add x amount of million migrants it is going to fill to capacity very fast and apparently nobody questioned the strain put on services nhs ect again primary maths add the average age of which people are living too now equals a very big problem especially when most of the migrants are unskilled workers who dont earn enuff

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    Your statistics forgot to mention that 15% of White British households don't have anyboby who works, compared to 25% for households of Asian of African descent.

    -The whole population of the UK (along with the rest of the World) is of African descent Yes even You!
    Unless of course you are a Neanderthal which seems a distinct possibility in the case of some of the commentators today.


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