The Census of England and Wales has gathered information on residents’ country of birth since 1851, meaning data can be compared over a number of decades.
The 2011 Census uses three ways to define an international migrant:
A person who was born outside the UK; this is a stable definition of an international migrant as it cannot change over time.
A person who holds a non-UK passport (while country of birth remains constant, people may change their nationality over time or acquire dual nationality).
A person who was usually resident outside the UK one year prior to census day, indicating they may have migrated to the UK in the year up to 27 March 2011. This excludes any international migrant who arrived in the UK prior to 28 March 2010 and will include some people who are UK born or UK nationals.
This summary focuses on persons in England and Wales born outside the UK.
How many residents are foreign-born?
Over time, the proportion of residents who are foreign-born has increased. Figure 1 shows the percentage of the usual resident population who were born outside the UK and resident in England and Wales on census day in 1991, 2001 and 2011. It shows a rise from 7% in 1991 to 13% in 2011. In the 2011 Census there were 7.5 million people born abroad; this compares to 4.6 million in 2001 and 3.6 million in 1991.
Figure 1: Usual residents by country of birth in England and Wales, 1991-2011
Where were they born?
The top 10 non-UK countries of birth accounted for 45% of the foreign-born population of England and Wales in 2011. India was top of this list with 694,000 usual residents, followed by Poland with 579,000 and Pakistan with 482,000. The Polish-born population in England and Wales increased nine-fold between 2001 and 2011, more than any other country. The only country of birth to see a decline was the Republic of Ireland.
Figure 2: Top ten countries of birth for non-UK born residents in England and Wales, 2001 and 2011
- Those born in Germany include the children of HM Forces who were previously stationed in that country.
How does England and Wales compare to the rest of the EU?
Within the EU, Luxembourg has the highest percentage of foreign-born residents (33% of the total usual resident population). England and Wales ranks ninth on the list, between Spain and the Republic of Ireland; it has the highest percentage of foreign-born residents among EU countries with populations greater than 50 million (France, Germany, Italy and England and Wales).
Figure 3: Percentage of usual residents in EU27 countries that are foreign-born, 2011
- Figures for Slovakia and Romania relate to 2009; all other Eurostat figures are as of 1 January 2011.
A census short story has been published on international migration and includes analysis of passport held data. A vodcast has also been produced. Stories from a range of topics using the 2011 Census data can be found on the 2011 Census analysis page. Future releases of census data will allow for more detailed analyses of the non-UK born population.
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