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Statistical bulletin: 2011 Census - Population and Household Estimates for England and Wales, March 2011 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 16 July 2012 Download PDF

Correction

20 July 2012

2011 Census:  Population and household estimates for England and Wales

A production error was discovered in Figure 10 (Average household size 1911 to 2011) of this report, originally published on 16 July 2012. The error means that the values illustrated for all years, 1911 to 2011, in Figure 10 were incorrect. This also affects the accompanying large chart. The Excel download containing the data represented in the chart was not affected by this error.

This error has now been corrected.

ONS apologises for any inconvenience caused. 

17 July 2012

2011 Census:  Population and household estimates for England and Wales

A production error was discovered in Figure 7 (Population change in number of residents aged 15 to 64) of this report, originally published on 16 July 2012. The error means that the values illustrated for all regions, England and Wales, England, and for Wales in Figure 7 were incorrect. This also affects the accompanying large chart and Excel file download for this Figure.

Although the data used in these files were incorrect, all related figures quoted in the text of the report are correct.

This error has now been corrected.

ONS apologises for any inconvenience caused.

Key points

  • On census night the population in England and Wales was 56.1 million, 53.0 million in England and 3.1 million in Wales. This was the largest the population had ever been.
  • There were 27.6 million men and 28.5 million women in England and Wales.
  • The census population estimate for England and Wales was just under 0.5 million higher than the population estimate rolled forward from 2001.
  • The population of England and Wales has grown by 3.7 million in the 10 years since the last census, rising from 52.4 million in 2001, an increase of 7.1 per cent. This was the largest growth in the population in England and Wales in any 10-year period since census taking began, in 1801. It compares with a rise in population of 1.6 million between 1991 and 2001.
  • The median age of the population in England and Wales was 39. For men, the median age was 38 and for women it was 40. In 1911, the median age was 25.
  • The percentage of the population aged 65 and over was the highest seen in any census at 16.4 per cent, that is one in six people in the population was 65 and over.
  • There were 430,000 residents aged 90 and over in 2011 compared with 340,000 in 2001 and 13,000 in 1911.
  • In 2011, there were 3.5 million children under five in England and Wales, 406,000 more than in 2001.
  • In England and Wales the average population density was 371 people per square kilometre; however in London this figure was 5,200. If the London figures were excluded, the average population density for the rest of England and Wales was 321 people per square kilometre.
  • There were 23.4 million households in England and Wales on census night. The average household size was 2.4 people per household in 2011, just over half of the 4.3 residents per household in 1911.
  • All regions saw population growth between 2001 and 2011, with the highest growth in London, the East of England and the East Midlands.
  • In terms of percentage increases, the local authorities with the largest growth in population were Tower Hamlets and Newham in London. Manchester showed the third highest percentage growth in population since 2001.

Summary

This bulletin, 2011 Census Population and Household Estimates for England and Wales, is the first release of statistics from the 2011 Census. It describes the usually resident population of England and Wales by age and sex, and also provides information on topics such as the number of households and population density.

Introduction

About the Census

The census has collected information about the population every 10 years since 1801 (except in 1941). The latest census in England and Wales took place on 27 March 2011.

Census statistics describe the characteristics of an area, such as how many men and women there are and their ages. The statistics are used to understand similarities and differences in the populations' characteristics locally, regionally and nationally. This information underpins the allocation of billions of pounds of public money to provide services like education, transport and health. Decisions are taken every day using census statistics. These are as local as the number of car parking spaces needed at supermarkets, to wider programmes, for example, where to target government training schemes. The numbers of school spaces, houses, care homes, or the development of traffic management systems or funding for local and unitary authorities, are all influenced by the census.

The 2011 Census achieved its overall target response rate of 94 per cent of the usually resident population of England and Wales, and over 80 per cent in all local and unitary authorities. The population estimate for England and Wales of 56.1 million is estimated with 95 per cent confidence to be accurate to within +/- 85,000 (0.15 per cent).

The 2011 Census conducted by ONS produced an estimate of the total population of England and Wales. A good response was achieved to the 2011 Census but inevitably some people were missed. The issue of under coverage in a census is one that affects census takers everywhere and ONS designed methods and processes to address this. A Census Coverage Survey was carried out to measure under coverage in a sample of areas and, based on this and rigorous estimation methods, the census population estimates represent 100 per cent of the usually resident population in all areas. The estimation methods were subject to an independent peer review which concluded that 'the further procedures for Quality Assurance (QA) and adjustment significantly strengthen ONS's strategy for successful population estimation'.

All census estimates were quality assured extensively, using other national and local sources of information for comparison and review by a series of quality assurance panels. An extensive range of quality assurance, evaluation and methodology papers are being published alongside this release.

The 2011 Census provides a high quality estimate of the population that people can use with confidence.

Personal census information is not shared with any other government department or body nationally, regionally or locally. The information collected is kept confidential by ONS, and is protected by law. Census records are not released for 100 years.

The 2011 Census operational details

In England and Wales, nearly 25.4 million questionnaires were posted out, and over 1,700 special enumerators delivered questionnaires to places such as university halls of residence, prisons and care homes. A team of 35,000 staff was employed to help people complete and return their questionnaires. In addition, respondents could complete their census online. Residents in Wales could choose to respond to the census in either English or Welsh.

2011 Census first release of statistics

Statistics from the 2011 Census will be released in stages over the next 18 months. More information can be found in the 2011 Census prospectus. This bulletin represents the first release of 2011 Census statistics, and is published alongside a bulletin covering results for Wales, 2011 Census - Population and Household Estimates for Wales: March 2011.

This bulletin summarises the usually resident population of England and Wales by age and sex1.

Other topics covered in this bulletin are the number of households and population density. Results are presented for England and for Wales, for regions and local and unitary authorities. Results for lower levels of geography will be released later in the year. Statistics for the whole of the UK will be compiled and published by ONS after each of the three census offices publishes the relevant data.

2011 Census context

This bulletin draws on other information produced by ONS, including data from the mid-year population estimates as well as statistics on births, deaths and international migration. It also links to relevant data visualisations developed by ONS to aid interpretation of the figures. In addition, statistics compiled by Eurostat, the European statistical agency, are drawn upon in order to show England and Wales census estimates in a European context. 

The statistics in this release will be used as a base for the 2011 mid-year population estimates. The mid-year population estimates are for the population at 30 June each year. The 2011, census-based, mid-year population estimates are scheduled for release in September 2012. In due course the mid-year population estimates for 2002-2010 will be re-based using what we now know from the 2011 Census; the re-based national level mid-year population estimates will be published by the end of 2012 and sub-national estimates will be released in spring 2013.

Notes for Introduction

  1. The usually resident population refers to people who live in England and Wales for 12 months or more, including those who have been here for less than 12 months but who intend to stay for 12 months or more.

The population of England and Wales and how it has grown

The population of England and Wales in 2011 was 56.1 million, the largest this population had ever been; of the total, 53.0 million people (94.5 per cent) lived in England and 3.1 million people (5.5 per cent) lived in Wales. There were 27.6 million men and 28.5 million women in England and Wales.

Since 2001 the England and Wales population had increased by 3.7 million on the estimate of 52.4 million people in 2001, an increase of 7.1 per cent. This was the largest growth in population numbers in a 10-year period since the first census in 18011.

The population of England had increased by 3.6 million on the estimate of 49.5 million people in 2001, an increase of 7.2 per cent. The population grew by 153,000 in Wales during the 10 years since the last census, rising from 2.9 million in 2001, an increase of 5.3 per cent.

The increase in the England and Wales population between 2001 and 2011 was much larger than in the 10-year period between 1991 and 2001 when the population increased by 1.6 million people.

Figure 1 Residents, 18011 ,2,3-2011 shows the long-term growth of the England and Wales population since 1801.

Figure 1 Residents, 1801 - 2011, England and Wales

Figure 1 Residents, 1801 - 2011, England and Wales
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Figure 2 Growth of the population of EU274 countries between 2001 and 2011 shows that the percentage population growth in England since 2001 was the fifth highest and Wales was the eleventh highest. UK census based population estimates will become available in December 2012.

Figure 2 Growth of the population of EU27 countries between 2001 and 2011, EU27 countries, England, Wales

Figure 2 Growth of the population of EU27  countries between 2001 and 2011, EU27 countries, England, Wales
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Population changes at England and Wales level are due to births, deaths, and migration (including migration within the UK). Data on births and deaths show that from March 2001 to March 2011, there were 6.6 million births and 5.0 million deaths in England and Wales, leading to an increase in the population of 1.6 million. This accounts for around 44 per cent of the total increase in population size of 3.7 million between 2001 and 2011, with the remainder being due to migration.

In addition to the usually resident population, the 2011 Census has estimated the number of non-UK born people who were 'short-term residents'. These were people who had been (or intended to be) in England and Wales for at least three months but who were not expecting to be here for a full year, and hence were not part of the usual resident population. The estimate of short-term residents was produced to provide a more holistic picture of the total population but it is based on less complete item responses (eg to the question on intention to stay) than were achieved for other topics and hence is not of the same high quality as the population estimates. It was used to help quality assure the resident population estimates and it is included in the quality assurance information. This information shows that on census night there were 195,000 of these short-term residents in England and Wales. Of this group, one third was in the London region.

The census estimate of non-UK born short-term residents5 can be compared to short-term migrants although there are some definitional differences. It will be compared to the ONS experimental estimates of short-term migrants and a reconciliation report will be produced.

Notes for The population of England and Wales and how it has grown

  1. There was no census in 1941, due to the Second World War.

  2. Comparison with 2001 and 1991 is based on mid-year population estimates for those years, comparison with 1981 and earlier is based on census results.

  3. Early censuses recorded population present, rather than usual residents.

  4. EU27 countries are the 27 members of the European Union. They include the UK but in Figure 1.2 and 6.1 England and Wales are shown separately and the UK is not included. Not all EU27 figures are based on the latest census.

  5. Operational definitions used for the census are available from Final population definitions for the 2011 Census (98.4 Kb Pdf) .

How the census estimates compare to the 2010 mid-year population estimates

The latest published population estimate for England and Wales, prior to the release of these census results, is the indicative mid-year population estimate at 30 June 2010 of 55.2 million people. If ONS was to update this figure for births, deaths and net international migration between 1 July 2010 and 27 March 2011, the population estimate for England and Wales on census night would be around 55.6 million residents. Comparing this figure with the census estimate of 56.1 million means that the census estimates just under 0.5 million more residents than the rolled forward population estimates. ONS has published a report explaining this difference (361.9 Kb Pdf) in parallel with this release.

How the population of England and Wales has changed over the last 100 years

People in England and Wales were living longer in 2011 than they did 100 years ago. This can be seen in Figure 3 Population by broad age groups, 1911-20111,2, which shows the decreasing proportion of the population that is aged under 15 and the increasing proportion that is aged 65 and over.

The percentage of residents aged 65 and over was the highest seen in any census at 16.4 per cent, which means that one in six people in the population was 65 and over in 2011. In 1911, one in twenty usual residents were aged 65 and over.

The proportion of the population that is aged 90 and over is just visible in the last decade in Figure 3. There were 430,000 residents aged 90 and over in 2011 compared with 340,000 in 2001 and 13,000 in 1911. This was the highest number in any census of people aged 90 and over. The number of women over 90, at 315,000, was nearly three times the number of men, at 114,000.

Figure 3 Population by broad age groups, 1911 - 2011, England and Wales

Figure 3 Population by broad age groups, 1911 - 2011, England and Wales
Source: Office for National Statistics

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The change in the broad composition of the population from younger to older can also be seen in the rise of the median age of the population from 25 years in 1911 to 35 in 1961, and 39 in 2011. The median age for men was 38 in 2011 and for women it was 40. The rise in median age would be more marked if there had not been growth in the younger age groups as a result of migration.

The structure of the population is defined by its age and sex; this can be visualised using a population pyramid. Figure 4 Population by age and sex, 2001 and 2011 shows the population pyramid for England and Wales.

The overall shape of the England and Wales population pyramid for 2001 and 2011 demonstrates an ageing population as shown for example, by the numbers of people aged 85 and over being higher in 2011 than in 2001.

Figure 4 Population by age and sex, 2001 and 2011, England and Wales

Figure 4 Population by age and sex, 2001 and 2011, England and Wales
Source: Office for National Statistics

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The detail of the pyramid shows more specific events. Fluctuations in the width of pyramids mainly reflect periods of high and low numbers of births. In the 2011 pyramid the wide areas for those aged 40-49, and 63-64, represent the 1960s baby boom and the post Second World War spike in births.

The base of the 2011 pyramid widens from age nine downward showing a period of an increased number of births in recent years. There were 405,700 more children aged under five in 2011 than there were in 2001. This increase is due to an increase in both the total fertility rate4 and the number of women of childbearing age in the population over the 10-year period. The increased number of women of childbearing age (15-45) is mainly due to migration into England and Wales over the last decade.

On average across England and Wales, 105 males are born for every 100 females, however in 2011 females consistently outnumbered males for every single year of age from (and including) age 35. Females outnumbered males from age 10 onwards in 1911.

The 2011 Census comparator [Adobe Flash] provides further population pyramids for 2001 and 2011, for regions and local and unitary authorities.

Notes for How the population of England and Wales has changed over the last 100 years

  1. Comparison with 2001 and 1991 is based on mid-year population estimates for those years, comparison with 1981 and earlier is based on census results.

  2. There was no census in 1941, due to the Second World War.

  3. For the 2001 comparison lines, the 2001 mid-year population estimate of the number of people in the 90+ age category was distributed across single years of age for 91 to 99 year olds using proportions as estimated in the 2001 Census. 100+ year olds are shown as a group.

  4. The total fertility rate (TFR) is the average number of live children that a group of women would each have if they experienced the age-specific fertility rates of the calendar year in question throughout their childbearing lives. The TFR provides an up-to-date measure of the current intensity of childbearing.

The populations of the regions and where these have changed the most

Table 1 Population change 1991-20111 presents the population increase across England regions and Wales.

Table 1 Population change, 1991-2011

Wales, England regions

thousands
  1991 population 2001 population 2011 population Change 1991-2001 Change 2001-2011
North East 2,587 2,540 2,597 -47 57
North West 6,843 6,773 7,052 -70 279
Yorkshire and the Humber 4,936 4,977 5,284 41 307
East Midlands 4,011 4,190 4,533 179 344
West Midlands 5,230 5,281 5,602 51 321
East of England 5,121 5,401 5,847 279 446
London 6,829 7,323 8,174 493 851
South East 7,629 8,024 8,635 394 611
South West 4,688 4,944 5,289 255 345
Wales 2,873 2,910 3,064 37 153
England 47,875 49,451 53,013 1,576 3,561
England and Wales 50,748 52,361 56,076 1,613 3,715

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Between 1991 and 2001, seven of the nine regions in England grew in population size, while the North East and North West declined. Between 2001 and 2011, all regions experienced population growth and those that grew in the preceding 10-year period grew by a greater amount.

Of the population growth between 2001 and 2011, the highest was in London which gained over 850,000 residents, an increase of 11.6 per cent. The South East of England also experienced large growth, 611,000 residents, and an increase of 7.6 per cent on 2001. The lowest increase was in the North East, which nonetheless gained 56,600 residents in the 10 years since the last census, an increase of 2.2 per cent.

Figure 5 Population by region, 1981 - 2011, Wales, English regions

Figure 5 Population by region, 1981 - 2011, Wales, English regions
Source: Office for National Statistics

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The population size of all regions, apart from the North East and the North West, increased every 10-year period between 1981 and 2011. However, the populations of the North East and the North West both decreased slightly from 1981 to 2001, then grew between 2001 and 2011.

In 1981 the South East had the largest population, and the second largest was the North West. By 2001 the population of London was larger than that of the North West. In 2011, the South East remained the region with the largest population. The North East had the smallest regional population throughout.

These differences in rates of growth shown in Figure 5 Population by region, 1981-20111 may relate to movement of both international and internal migrants towards London and the South East. Also, areas with older populations are likely to have relatively more deaths and fewer births.

What drives population growth

There is a large difference between England and Wales in population change due to numbers of births and deaths. In England, 45 per cent of the growth between 2001 and 2011 was due to there being more births than deaths, whereas in Wales it was 8 per cent.

Population changes for local and unitary authorities

Local and unitary authorities vary in population size, the largest local authorities will tend to also show the largest absolute changes in terms of the number of people and therefore population change at this level is presented by percentage changes. The population changes for local and unitary authorities between 2001 and 20112 ranged from growth of 26.4 per cent in Tower Hamlets, to a decline of 4.0 per cent in Barrow-in-Furness. Of the 348 local and unitary authorities, 331 grew during this 10-year period, and 17 saw a decrease.

The local and unitary authorities showing highest population growth and decline are shown in Table 2 and 3 Local and unitary authorities with the highest growth, and local and unitary authorities with the lowest growth or decline in the population between 20011 and 2011.

Overall, 10 of the 20 local and unitary authorities with the highest percentage growth were in London; this contributed to the fact that London as a whole showed the greatest growth across England and Wales.

Tower Hamlets and Newham were the only local or unitary authorities to show growth of over 20 per cent, continuing previous growth. Both grew by over 15 per cent between 1991 and 2001, and both also grew between 1981 and 1991.

Manchester was the third fastest growing of the local and unitary authorities, and experienced the greatest percentage population growth outside the London region, with an increase of 19.0 per cent to over 500,000 people, despite having shown a decline in both 1991 and 2001.

Almost half of the local authorities with a declining population were in the North West, and a further four were in the North East, reflecting the generally lower growth rates in these regions. Most of these areas are urban, and several have experienced decline in traditional manufacturing industries.

In 14 local and unitary authorities the population stayed within 1 per cent of the size of the 2001 population. These include six of the 17 local authorities whose population decreased.

Table 2 Local and unitary authorities with the highest growth in population, 2001 and 2011

England and Wales local and unitary authorities

Local or unitary authority England region or Wales 2001 population (thousands) 2011 population (thousands) Change since 2001 (per cent)
Tower Hamlets London 201 254 26.4
Newham London 249 308 23.5
Manchester North West 423 503 19.0
Hackney London 207 246 18.9
Hounslow London 216 254 17.6
Greenwich London 218 255 17.1
Milton Keynes South East 213 249 17.0
Leicester East Midlands 283 330 16.7
Peterborough East of England 157 184 16.6
Waltham Forest London 222 258 16.3
Slough South East 121 140 16.3
Swindon South West 180 209 16.2
South Derbyshire East Midlands 82 95 15.8
Boston East Midlands 56 65 15.8
Brent London 270 311 15.4
Redbridge London 242 279 15.3
Haringey London 221 255 15.2
South Holland East Midlands 77 88 15.1
Uttlesford East of England 69 79 15.1
Islington London 179 206 14.9

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Table 3 Local and unitary authorities with the lowest growth or decline in population, 2001 and 2011

England and Wales local and unitary authorities

Local or unitary authority England region or Wales 2001 population (thousands) 2011 population (thousands) Change since 2001 (per cent)
Barrow-in-Furness North West 72 69 -4.0
Knowsley North West 151 146 -3.5
Sefton North West 283 274 -3.2
Sunderland North East 285 276 -3.2
South Tyneside North East 153 148 -3.1
Redcar and Cleveland North East 139 135 -2.9
Burnley North West 90 87 -2.8
Kensington and Chelsea London 162 159 -2.2
Middlesbrough North East 141 138 -2.0
West Somerset South West 35 35 -1.1
Hyndburn North West 82 81 -1.0
St. Helens North West 177 175 -0.8
Tendring East of England 139 138 -0.6
Stockport North West 285 283 -0.5
Blaenau Gwent Wales 70 70 -0.3
Blackpool North West 142 142 -0.1
City of London London 7 7 0.0
Torfaen Wales 91 91 0.2
Pendle North West 89 90 0.2
North Warwickshire West Midlands 62 62 0.3

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Notes for The populations of the regions and where these have changed the most

  1. Comparison with 2001 and 1991 is based on mid-year population estimates for those years, comparison with 1981 and earlier is based on census results.

  2. Local authority boundaries are as were operative on 31 December 2011.

How the age structure of the population varies across England and Wales

Knowing the size and geographical location of all age groups is vital to planning as it directly impacts on the provision of services such as education and health care.

As discussed in Ho w the population of England and Wales has changed over the last 100 years there has been a long-term trend towards an ageing population.

Table 4 Number of residents aged 65 and over, 20011 and 2011 compares the populations aged 65 and over in 2001 and 2011 for regions of England, and Wales. In 2011, the percentage of the population aged 65 and over in each region, excluding London, ranged from 16.6 to 19.6 per cent, and had increased in all of these regions. London showed a decrease in the percentage of people aged 65 and over in the same 10-year period.

Table 4 Number of residents aged 65 and over, 2001 and 2011

Wales, English regions

Region 2001   2011
Number (thousands) Per cent Number (thousands) Per cent
North East 420 16.5 450 17.3
North West 1,081 16.0 1,171 16.6
Yorkshire and the Humber 800 16.1 875 16.6
East Midlands 674 16.1 773 17.1
West Midlands 842 15.9 946 16.9
East of England 889 16.5 1,024 17.5
London 897 12.3 905 11.1
South East 1,311 16.3 1,482 17.2
South West 922 18.6 1,035 19.6
Wales 506 17.4 563 18.4
England 7,835 15.8 8,660 16.3
England and Wales 8,341 15.9 9,223 16.4

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Map 1 Population aged 65 and over, 2011 further shows geographic locations of residents aged 65 and over in 2011. The local and unitary authorities with higher percentages of residents aged 65 and over were particularly concentrated along the coast in the South West, South East, and East of England regions. In 11 local and unitary authorities more than a quarter of the population was aged 65 and over; most of these areas were in the East or South West of England, as well as mid Wales and the North Wales coast. The three local authorities with the highest percentages of residents aged 65 and over were North Norfolk (28.7 per cent), West Somerset (28.8 per cent), and Christchurch (29.6 per cent).

By contrast, local and unitary authorities with large urban concentrations tended to have relatively few older residents. In 13 local and unitary authorities, less than 10 per cent of the population was aged 65 and over; of these, only Manchester and Slough were not in the London region. Other areas with low proportions of residents aged 65 and over included university cities such as Cambridge, Oxford, Leicester, and Nottingham.

Map 1 Population aged 65 and over, 2011

England and Wales local and unitary authorities

Map 1 shows the percentage of the population aged 65 and over in each of the local and unitary authorities
Source: Office for National Statistics
 

By contrast, the proportion of residents of younger ages in England and Wales has continually fallen over the last 100 years. As shown in How the population of England and Wales has changed over the last 100 years the 0 to 14 year-old age group formed 30.6 per cent of the population in 1911 compared to 17.6 per cent in 2011.

Figure 6 Population change in number of residents aged 0 to 14, 2001 - 2011, Wales, English regions

Figure 6 Population change in number of residents aged 0 to 14, 2001 - 2011, Wales, English regions
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Figure 6 Population change in number of residents aged 0 to 14, 20011-2011  compares the population aged 0 to 14 in 2001 and 2011 for regions of England, and Wales. During this period, there was a decline in the number of residents aged 0 to 14 in all regions apart from London, East of England and South East. London showed the largest increase, 12 per cent, in the 0 to 14 age band.

However, in 2011, there were 405,700 more children under five in England and Wales than in 2001. This was an increase of 13.1 per cent.

Figure 7 Population change in number of residents aged 15 to 64, 2001 - 2011, England Regions, Wales

Figure 7 Population change in number of residents aged 15 to 64, 2001 - 2011, England Regions, Wales
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Figure 7 Population change in number of residents aged 15 to 64, 20011-2011 compares the population aged 15 to 64 in 2001 and 2011 for Wales and regions of England. During this period, there was an increase in the number of residents aged 15 to 64 ranging from 4 to 9 per cent in all regions, apart from London. London showed the largest increase, 13.5 per cent. This increase is due in part to migration into England and Wales since migrants tend to be predominantly young working-age adults. However, it is also due to the fact that the number of people aged in their late 50s and early 60s in 2001 was relatively low and these cohorts are no longer in this age band. They have been replaced by larger cohorts. This point is illustrated by looking at Figure 4 Population by age and sex, 2001 and 2011.

Notes for How the age structure of the population varies across England and Wales

  1. Comparison with 2001 and 1991 is based on mid-year population estimates for those years, comparison with 1981 and earlier is based on census results.

How densely England and Wales were populated

The resident totals in conjunction with land area information allow the calculation of population density. In England and Wales there were 371 residents per square kilometre compared with 239 in 1911, 305 in 1961, and 347 in 2001. If the London figures were excluded, the average population density for the rest of England and Wales was 321 people per square kilometre.

However, population density varies geographically. When the average population densities for England and Wales are calculated separately, there were 407 and 148 residents per square kilometre respectively.

The difference between the two countries is in part due to the very high population density of the London region, 5,199 residents per square kilometre, or 14 times the England and Wales average. All other regions in England had population densities of between 222 and 500 residents per square kilometre, with the average being 349 people per square kilometre in England excluding London.

The 19 most densely populated local and unitary authorities in England and Wales were all London boroughs, as shown in Table 5 Highest population density, 2011. The only non-London area in the top 20 was Portsmouth. Of the 33 London local authorities, all were within the top 100 most densely populated in England and Wales, and 28 were within the top 50. The least densely populated London area was Bromley, with 2,061 residents per square kilometre; this was still over five times the population density of England and Wales as a whole.

Table 5 Highest population density, 2011

England and Wales local and unitary authorities

Local authority Region Land only measurements (km2) Usual residents (thousands) Population density
Per km2 Per hectare1
Islington London 14.86 206 13,875 139
Kensington and Chelsea London 12.12 159 13,087 131
Hackney London 19.05 246 12,930 129
Tower Hamlets London 19.78 254 12,845 128
Lambeth London 26.81 303 11,305 113
Hammersmith and Fulham London 16.40 182 11,129 111
Westminster London 21.49 219 10,211 102
Camden London 21.79 220 10,112 101
Southwark London 28.86 288 9,988 100
Wandsworth London 34.26 307 8,959 90
Haringey London 29.60 255 8,611 86
Newham London 36.20 308 8,508 85
Lewisham London 35.15 276 7,849 78
Brent London 43.23 311 7,199 72
Waltham Forest London 38.81 258 6,654 67
Ealing London 55.54 338 6,093 61
Greenwich London 47.33 255 5,378 54
Merton London 37.62 200 5,308 53
Barking and Dagenham London 36.11 186 5,148 51
Portsmouth South East 40.36 205 5,081 51

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Table 6 Lowest population density, 2011 shows that five of the 20 local and unitary authorities with lowest population density were in Wales.

Table 6 Lowest population density, 2011

England and Wales local and unitary authorities

Local authority Region Land only measurements (km2) Population (thousands) Population density (Per km2)
Eden North West 2142.4 53 25
Powys Wales 5180.4 133 26
Ryedale Yorkshire and the Humber 1506.6 52 34
Richmondshire Yorkshire and the Humber 1318.7 52 39
Ceredigion Wales 1785.5 76 43
West Devon South West 1159.6 54 46
Craven Yorkshire and the Humber 1177.4 55 47
West Somerset South West 725.3 35 48
Gwynedd Wales 2535.1 122 48
Northumberland UA North East 5013.0 316 63
Torridge South West 983.9 64 65
South Lakeland North West 1533.6 104 68
Hambleton Yorkshire and the Humber 1311.2 89 68
Cotswold South West 1164.5 83 71
Pembrokeshire Wales 1618.6 122 76
West Lindsey East Midlands 1155.7 89 77
East Lindsey East Midlands 1760.2 136 77
Carmarthenshire Wales 2370.7 184 78
Allerdale North West 1241.6 96 78
Herefordshire, County of West Midlands 2179.7 184 84

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Map 2 Population density, 2011 shows the relatively densely populated area stretching eastwards from Liverpool and Manchester to the West Yorkshire conurbation of Leeds and Bradford. Also visible as relatively densely populated are the areas around Newcastle and Birmingham, and the Hampshire coast between Southampton and Portsmouth. London is clearly the most densely populated region of England and Wales.

Map 2 Population density, 2011

England and Wales local and unitary authorities

Map 2 shows the population density for each of the local and unitary authorities
Source: Office for National Statistics

International comparisons show England to have been more densely populated in 2011 than any of the G82 countries. Wales had a lower population density than Japan, Germany and Italy but was more densely populated than France, the US, Canada, and Russia.

Compared with the EU273, England was the third most densely populated country, after the Netherlands and Malta. England had 407 residents per square kilometre. The Netherlands had 493 residents per square kilometre with Belgium in fourth place at 361 residents per square kilometre. Wales had 148 residents per kilometre which made it the eighth most densely populated country compared with the EU27, with a similar density to that of Czech Republic.

Figure 8 Population densities, 2011 compares the population density of England and Wales with the EU273 countries. The population density of Wales was also greater than the majority of EU27 countries.

Figure 8 Population densities, 2011, EU27 countries, England, Wales

Figure 8 Population densities, 2011, EU27 countries, England, Wales
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Notes for How densely England and Wales were populated

  1. One hectare is approximately the same size as an international standard rugby union pitch (10,080 square metres).

  2. G8 stands for “Group of Eight” and is a forum for the governments of eight large economies; these are France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Russia.

  3. EU27 countries are the 27 members of the European Union. They include the UK but in Figure 1.2 and 6.1 England and Wales are shown separately and the UK is not included. Not all EU27 figures are based on the latest census.

How many households there were in 2011

There were 23.4 million households in England and Wales on 27 March 2011, a 7.5 per cent increase on the 21.7 million households in 2001. This was the second lowest percentage increase in households found between censuses in the last 100 years1, as growth in households between censuses has typically ranged between 8 and 17 per cent. Only the period between 1991 and 2001 showed lower growth, at 7.2 per cent. Figure 9 Number of household residents2 and households, 19111 ,3,6 - 2011 shows growth in the number of households compared to population growth between 1911 and 2011.

Figure 9 Number of household residents and households, 1911 - 2011

Figure 9 Number of household residents and households, 1911 - 2011
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Table 7 Local and unitary authorities with the highest growth in households1, 2001 and 2011 and Table 8 Local and unitary authorities with the lowest growth and decline in households1, 2001 and 2011, show the local and unitary authorities whose total number of households grew the most and those that grew the least or declined. Only four local authorities had a decline in the number of households between 2001 and 2011.

Table 7 Local and unitary authorities with the highest growth in the households, 2001 and 2011

England and Wales local and unitary authorities

Local Authority Region Percentage change
Tower Hamlets London 28.2
Hackney London 18.3
South Derbyshire East Midlands 18.2
North Kesteven East Midlands 17.9
Swindon South West 17.9
Kettering East Midlands 16.8
Rugby West Midlands 16.4
West Lindsey East Midlands 16.4
Fenland East of England 16.0
Milton Keynes South East 16.0
Shepway South East 15.6
South Cambridgeshire East of England 15.4
East Cambridgeshire East of England 15.3
East Northamptonshire East Midlands 15.2
North Dorset South West 14.8
Watford East of England 14.7
Ipswich East of England 14.6
Dartford South East 14.6
Corby East Midlands 14.5
Manchester North West 14.5

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Table 8 Local and unitary authorities with the lowest growth and decline in the households, 2001

England and Wales local and unitary authorities

Local Authority Region Percentage Change
Oadby and Wigston East Midlands -3.2
West Somerset South West -2.5
Kensington and Chelsea London -0.6
Merton London -0.3
Isles of Scilly South West 0.0
Tendring East of England 0.2
Middlesbrough North East 0.4
Knowsley North West 0.5
Blackpool North West 0.6
Barrow-in-Furness North West 0.6
Sefton North West 0.8
Stockport North West 0.8
Ceredigion Wales 1.1
Denbighshire Wales 1.4
Sunderland North East 1.5
Burnley North West 1.6
Torbay South West 1.7
South Tyneside North East 1.8
Oldham North West 1.9
Epping Forest East of England 2.0

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Figure 10 Average household size2 , 4, 1911 to 20111,3,6 shows that average household size almost halved in the last 100 years. In 1911 average household size was 4.3, by 1961 it was 3.0, and in 2011 it was 2.4. Average household size in 2011 is unchanged from 2001, meaning that only population growth drove an increase in the number of households in that period. The long-term decrease in household size reflects the decline in the total fertility rate5 and the ageing of the population over the century. It also reflects changes in the structure of society; for example, unmarried adults who would have lived with their parents earlier in the century were more likely to live in one person households towards the end of the twentieth century. However recent reporting showed a 20 per cent increase in 20-34 year-olds living with parents since 1997.

Figure 10 Average household size, 1911 to 2011, England and Wales

Figure 10 Average household size, 1911 to 2011, England and Wales
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Regional and local and unitary authority differences in average household size

Average household size was similar in each region, ranging between 2.3 (in the North East) and 2.5 (in London).

At local and unitary authority level there was more variation. The lowest average household size was in City of London (1.6) followed by Kensington and Chelsea (2.0). Other local authorities with average household sizes of 2.2 or less were primarily coastal areas, although Chesterfield and Salford were also at this level. The local authority with the highest average household size was Newham (3.0), followed by Harrow (2.8). Some neighbouring local authorities also had average household sizes above 2.6.

This information is critical for local authorities for assessing and planning for housing needs. Future 2011 Census releases will include further detail about numbers and types of households.

Notes for How many households there were in 2011

  1. Comparison with 2001 and 1991 is based on mid-year population estimates for those years, comparison with 1981 and earlier is based on census results.

  2. Household resident estimates are sourced from 1911-2001 Census results.

  3. 1911 to 1931 collected data on private families rather than households.

  4. Average household size is calculated as total residents in households divided by total number of households. This measure excludes residents in communal establishments.

  5. The total fertility rate (TFR) is the average number of live children that a group of women would each have if they experienced the age-specific fertility rates of the calendar year in question throughout their childbearing lives. The TFR provides an up-to-date measure of the current intensity of childbearing.

  6. There was no census in 1941, due to the Second World War.

Background notes

  1. Figures may not sum due to rounding.

  2. Unless otherwise stated, comparisons with 2001 and 1991 are made using mid-year population estimates and household projection historical series figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government. Comparisons for 1981 and earlier are made using census estimates.

  3. Unlike the mid-year population estimates, these figures do not include the components of change; the proportion of growth attributable to births and deaths versus net migration.

  4. A person's place of usual residence is in most cases the address at which they stay the majority of the time. For many people this will be their permanent or family home. If a member of the services did not have a permanent or family address at which they are usually resident, they were recorded as usually resident at their base address.

  5. ONS is responsible for carrying out the census in England and Wales. Simultaneous but separate censuses took place in Scotland and Northern Ireland. These were run by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) respectively.

  6. The England and Wales census questionnaires asked the same questions with one exception; an additional question on Welsh language was included on the Wales questionnaire.

  7. ONS is responsible for the publication of UK statistics (compiling comparable statistics from the UK statistical agencies above). These will be compiled as each of the three statistical agencies involved publish the relevant data. The Northern Ireland census prospectus and the Scotland census prospectus) are available online.

  8. All key terms used in this publication, such as resident and short-term residents are explained in the 2011 Census glossary.

  9. Further information on the methodology used in the production of these statistics and the data quality is available in the Quality and Methodology Information (QMI) document (152.8 Kb Pdf) .

  10. In addition to the information in the QMI, ONS has also published quality assurance information which details the quality assurance process undergone for each local and unitary authority and a report explaining the difference between mid-year population estimates and the 2011 Census estimates (361.9 Kb Pdf) .

  11. The information the census provides allows central and local government, health authorities/boards and many other organisations to target their resources more effectively. ONS has ensured that the data collected meet users' needs via an extensive 2011 Census outputs consultation process in order to ensure that the 2011 Census outputs will be of increased use in the planning of housing, education, health and transport services in future years.

  12. There will be further releases of data from the 2011 Census over the next 18 months; information is available online in the 2011 Census prospectus. These will examine further data and cover topics such as detailed ethnic group, religion, travel to work, health and families, identity, employment and education.

  13. The census provides estimates of the characteristics of all people and households in England and Wales on census night. These are produced for a variety of users including government, local and unitary authorities, business and communities. The census provides population statistics from a national to local level. This bulletin discusses the results at national, England regional and local and unitary authority levels; however future releases from the 2011 Census will include tabulations at other geographies. These include wards, health areas, parliamentary constituencies, postcode sectors and national parks.

  14. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

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

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Denise McGregor +44 (0)1329 444972 Census census.customerservices@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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