The 2011 Census of England and Wales asked a question for the first time on what passports residents held. Of the usual resident population, 7.5 million people (13%) were born abroad, and almost half of these (46% or 3.4 million people) held a UK passport.
Those holding only a foreign passport accounted for 51% (3.8 million) of non-UK born usual residents. In total, there were 4.2 million foreign nationals in England and Wales. There were also 9.5 million residents with no passport.
The total number of people who are non-UK born is different from the total number of foreign nationals because some of those born abroad have since become British citizens. A large number of people born in India (694,000) have obtained British citizenship (379,000) so the number of Indian nationals in England and Wales is much lower than the Indian-born. Poland had very similar numbers in each category (579,000 Polish-born and 558,000 Polish nationals) as Polish citizens have had the right to live and work in the UK since Poland joined the EU in 2004 and therefore had no need to obtain a UK passport. The most common non-UK nationality was Polish; this was followed by Irish (372,000) and Indian (315,000).
Who are the non-UK born UK nationals?
Figure 1 shows the top ten non-UK countries of birth for residents of England and Wales, and the proportion of those residents who held a UK passport against those who held a non-UK passport. Jamaican-born residents were more likely than other foreign-born people to be UK nationals (73% or 117,000), followed by Bangladeshi-born residents (72% or 153,000) and Pakistani-born residents (69% or 332,000). Polish-born residents had the lowest proportion of UK nationals (4.9%).
Figure 1: Top ten non-UK countries of birth by passport held, 2011
How long have non-UK born and foreign nationals been residents of the UK?
Half (50% or 3.7 million) of the non-UK born usually resident population of England and Wales had lived in the UK for 10 years or more. Additionally, 26% (1.9 million) had lived here for 5-10 years (see Figure 2).
People born in Poland accounted for 14% (531,000) of all recent arrivals; that is, usual residents in the UK on census day who were born overseas and had arrived since 2001. Nearly all (92%) of Polish-born usual residents had arrived since 2001.
Nearly half (45%) of the 694,000 Indian-born residents in England and Wales arrived in the decade 2001-2011. However, of the 315,000 Indian nationals resident in England and Wales, 78% of them arrived in the period 2001-2011. This indicates that many who arrived earlier are now UK nationals.
Figure 2: Year of arrival for total non-UK born and non-UK nationals born outside the UK in England and Wales, 2011
How old are foreign nationals and the non-UK born population?
The age distributions of the non-UK born and UK born populations and those for UK passport holders and foreign nationals are shown in Figure 3. The age profile of those born abroad is younger (median age 37.3) than those born in the UK (median age 39.9), and more concentrated in the younger working ages 20-44.
Overall, foreign nationals who have arrived in the UK in recent years have an even younger age structure (median age 31.3), with relatively few older adults; there was a concentration of 43% (1.8 million) aged 25 to 39. This is mainly because many of these are students or younger workers who have been in the country for a shorter period of time.
People from different countries of birth had very different age profiles; this is partly a result of when they migrated to the UK and therefore the length of time they had been resident in the UK. The median ages for the top four countries of birth were: India (42.7 years), Poland (30.1 years), Pakistan (38.9 years) and Ireland (61.7 years).
Figure 3: Age and sex distributions of the non-UK born and UK born, alongside those of UK and non-UK passport holders, England and Wales, 2011
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