UK population sees biggest increase in half a century

image captionThe difference between numbers of births and deaths is the main driver of UK population growth

The UK population increased more last year than at any time in almost half a century, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

By mid-2010 the estimated resident population was 62,262,000, an increase of 470,000 (0.8%) on the previous year.

The growth rate is the highest since 1962, during the "baby boom" years.

'Natural change' - the difference between the numbers of births and deaths - accounted for 52% of the population growth.

The number of births in the UK is now at its highest since 1991, with 797,000 during the year to mid-2010.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says two factors are significant - rising fertility among UK-born women and more inward migration of women of childbearing age.

'Natural change' has been the main driver of growth for the last three years (2007-10), having narrowly overtaken net migration, which was the dominant factor for the previous nine years.

Net migration - the difference between long term migration into and out of the UK - shows a positive figure of 230,000 for 2009-10.

Overall, the ONS says the UK population has increased by 3.1 million people between 2001 and 2010.

The House of Commons library, in response to a question by James Clappison MP, recently estimated that the figure could exceed 70 million by 2026, three years earlier than previous official estimates.

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