The latest ONS analysis uses 2011 Census data to look at characteristics of the Gypsy or Irish Traveller community for the first time. As an ethnic group, they are recognised under the Equality Act 2010 and are widely considered by government and charities to be a vulnerable marginalised group who suffer from poor outcomes. The 2011 Census allowed respondents to identify as this ethnic group for the first time, and 58,000 people selected this option (this does not include people who identify as Roma). This made it the smallest ethnic group (with a tick box) in 2011, accounting for 0.1% of the population of England and Wales.
Gypsy or Irish Traveller group had a low median age of 26
There was a higher proportion of people identifying as Gypsy or Irish Traveller under the age of 20 (39%) than in England and Wales overall (24%). The group had a low median age of 26, compared with the overall median age for England and Wales of 39.
88% of Gypsy or Irish Travellers were born in the UK
The majority (88%) of Gypsy or Irish Travellers were born in the UK, rising to 99% for those born in Europe (including the UK). The most common main language was English (or Welsh in Wales) at 91%, similar to that for England and Wales (92%). For those who reported that they spoke a language other than English (English or Welsh in Wales), 4% could not speak English well or at all, while 5% could speak English well or very well.
Nearly half of Gypsy or Irish Traveller households had dependent children
There were 20,500 households identified as Gypsy or Irish Traveller and 60% of these households were one-family households. For all households, 45% had dependent children, which was above the average for England and Wales (29%).
24% of Gypsy or Irish Travellers lived in caravans or other mobile or temporary structures
Whole house or bungalow was the most common type of accommodation for Gypsy or Irish Travellers at 61%. Nearly a quarter (24%) lived in caravans or other mobile or temporary structures, well above the average for England and Wales as a whole at 0.3%. They were more than twice as likely to live in social housing as the overall population of England and Wales (41% compared with 16%) and less likely to own their accommodation outright (21% compared with 26%).
Gypsy or Irish Travellers reported the worst health out of all ethnic minorities
Gypsy or Irish Travellers had the lowest proportion of people rating their general health as 'very good' or 'good' at 70% compared to 81% of the overall population of England and Wales.
Gypsy or Irish Travellers had the highest proportion of no qualifications
Gypsy or Irish Travellers (over the age of 16) had the highest proportion of no qualifications for any ethnic group at 60%, higher than for England and Wales as a whole (23%).
Just under half of Gypsy or Irish Travellers were economically active
Gypsy or Irish Travellers had the lowest proportion of economically active at 47%, compared with 63% for England and Wales as a whole. Over half of those who were economically active were employed (51% compared to 75% for the total of England and Wales) and 20% were unemployed (compared to 7% for the whole of England and Wales). They had the highest proportion of self employed out of the ethnic groups at 26% compared to 14% for England and Wales. Just over half were economically inactive; the most common reason was looking after the home or family (27%) which was higher than that for England and Wales (11%).
Elementary occupations was the most common employment type for Gypsy or Irish Travellers
For Gypsy or Irish Travellers (16 and over) in employment, elementary occupations (such as farm workers, process plant workers or service staff) were the most common type of employment at 22% (11% for England and Wales). The second highest occupation was skilled trades at 19% such as agricultural, electric and building trades, higher than England and Wales and all other ethnic groups.
How was the Gypsy or Irish Traveller population measured?
The 2011 Census ethnic group question included a dedicated tick box for the ethnic group Gypsy or Irish Traveller; this was not intended for people who identified as ‘Roma’ as they are a distinct group. The figures in this story are based solely on respondents who chose this tick box or wrote Gypsy or Travellers in the ‘any other White’ question.
Where can I find out more about Gypsy or Irish Traveller statistics?
These statistics were analysed as part of the ONS Census Analysis project using 2011 Census data. If you’d like to find out more about Gypsy or Irish Travellers, read the full report or view the infographic. If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d like to hear them! Please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org