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Video Summary: What does the Census tell us about religion in 2011?

Released: 16 May 2013

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This is a short video looking at detailed characteristics of religion in England and Wales. A previous podcast on religion described how, in the 2011 Census, Christian was the largest religious group in England and Wales with 33.2 million usual residents, a decrease of 4.1 million since 2001; the second largest was Muslim with 2.7 million, an increase of 1.2 million residents since 2001; and the number of usual residents reporting no religion was 14.1 million, an increase of 6.4 million since 2001.

These graphs detail the age and sex breakdown by religious group. The bars on the graphs represent the 2011 Census populations, and the solid lines represent the 2001 Census populations for comparison.

Christians had the oldest age profile of the main religious groups – denoted by the wider bars at the upper end of the graph compared to the lower end – over one in five were aged 65 and over. There were large decreases in the 30 to 39 age groups and for 5 to14 year olds; as can be seen from the gaps between the 2011 bars and the 2001 lines for these ages. There was also a small increase in the 60 to 64 age group, shown by the 2011 bars overlapping the 2001 lines for this group.

Four in ten people with no religion were aged under 25 and over four in five were aged under 50. Increases for people with no religion can be seen across all the age groups where the 2011 bars are overlapping the 2001 lines. The largest of the increases was for the 20 to 24 and 40 to 44 groups, where there were rises of 637,000 and 620,000 respectively.

As occurred in 2001, Muslims had the youngest age profile of the main religious groups in 2011. Nearly half were aged under 25, and nine in ten were aged under 50. The proportion of all usual residents reporting Muslim as their religion increased across all age groups under 60, with the largest increases in the age groups under 25. Eight per cent of people aged under 25 identified as Muslim in 2011 compared to 5 per cent in 2001.

Looking at the increases and decreases since 2001 in the different religious categories by whether or not the usual residents of England and Wales were born in the UK helps give a context to the changes described in the previous slide.

This graph clearly shows that over nine in ten people who reported having no religion were born in the UK. The increase in the numbers reporting no religion lies predominantly in the UK-born population. Numbers of UK-born residents reporting no religion have almost doubled since 2001, with a rise of 5.8 million to 13.1 million usual residents. So, taken together with the previous slide, we know that a large proportion of those reporting no religion were aged under 25, and born in the UK.

For Christians nine in ten people were born in the UK. Between 2001 and 2011, there was an increase of 1.2 million Christians residing in England and Wales who were born outside of the UK, and a very large decrease in UK-born Christians, of 5.3 million. Of the non-UK born Christians, 887,000 were from EU accession countries. Four in five of all the usual residents in England and Wales who were born in an EU accession country reported Christian as their main religion.

Just over half of Muslims in 2011 were born outside of the UK. Numbers of non-UK born Muslims have almost doubled since 2001 with a rise of over half a million to 1.4 million in 2011. A similar pattern can be seen for the number of Muslims who were born in the UK, where there was also a rise of over a half a million to 1.2 million in 2011.

A notable change since 2001 in one of the other main religious categories was that of non-UK born Hindus, increasing by 200,000 usual residents. However, increases and decreases in the other main religious categories were all of less than 100,000.

Economic activity includes those aged 16 or over who are employed or unemployed  and actively seeking and available for work. In 2011, the majority of those who were economically active were employees in employment.

In 2011 77 per cent of economically active Christians and 74 per cent of those with no religion were employees, compared with around 59 per cent of economically active Muslims.

Self-employment made up the next largest category of economic activity. More than a quarter of economically active Jewish people were self employed compared with 13 to 19 per cent of economically active usual residents with other religious affiliations.

Of those who were economically active, around seven per cent of Muslims and six per cent of Buddhists and Hindus were employed full time students, compared with around three per cent of economically active Christians, Jewish people and those with other religious affiliations.

Almost 17 per cent of economically active Muslims were unemployed (including unemployed students) compared with around six per cent of Christians and nine per cent of those with no religion. The religion with the smallest proportion of residents in this category was Jewish, with 4% of the economically active being unemployed.


Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. This video accompanies the 'What does the Census tell us about religion in 2011?' Release.
  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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