1. Key points

  • In 2011, 13 per cent (7.5 million) of usual residents of England and Wales were born outside the UK; almost half (46 per cent or 3.4 million) of these held a UK passport

  • The majority of both UK and foreign nationals aged 16 and over were economically active (64 per cent and 65 per cent respectively) and in employment (61 and 60 per cent respectively)

  • The proportion of foreign nationals who were students was more than double that of UK nationals: 17 per cent compared to 8.1 per cent; this difference is partly related to the younger age structure of the foreign national population

  • For those in employment, foreign nationals were most concentrated in professional (20 per cent) and elementary occupations (19 per cent) while UK nationals were most concentrated in professional (18 per cent) and associate professional and technical occupations (13 per cent)

  • The proportion of foreign nationals employed in banking, finance and insurance (21 per cent) was higher than UK nationals (17 per cent); UK nationals were more concentrated in the public administration, education and health sector (29 per cent), compared to foreign nationals (23 per cent)

  • Foreign nationals were most frequently qualified at level 4+ (degree level or higher) (38 per cent); this compares with 29 per cent of UK nationals

  • 88 per cent (3.6 million) of foreign nationals aged 3 and over reported that they could speak English well, very well or as their main language; 1.7 per cent (70,000) of foreign nationals reported that they could not speak English at all

  • 73 per cent of UK nationals living in households lived in an owner occupied property, compared to 33 per cent of foreign nationals; foreign nationals were more likely to live in private rented accommodation (55 per cent) compared to UK nationals (14 per cent). These differences declined with increased length of residence in the UK

  • Foreign nationals living in households who arrived in the UK before 1981 had similar levels of home ownership (75 per cent) as UK nationals (73 per cent)

  • Foreign nationals reported the highest levels of good health overall in the 2011 Census at 90 per cent, compared with 83 per cent for UK nationals; this is largely due to the younger age profile of foreign nationals

  • For both UK-born and non-UK born, overall levels of good health are similar (81 and 83 per cent respectively); there is a general decline in reported good health status with age. Bangladeshi-born reported lower levels of good health than other countries of birth, Nigerian-born residents generally reported better health; these differences increased with age

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2. Data

Detailed Characteristics for regions in England and for Wales, and additional tables on migration for England and Wales can be found on the Nomis website.

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3. Introduction

This story analyses economic and social characteristics of long-term migrants who were usually resident in England and Wales on census night (27 March 2011). An earlier release of 2011 Census data enabled an analysis of international migration, focussing on demographic characteristics and using univariate data tables; a subsequent release of multivariate data tables allowed a more detailed analysis of country of birth and nationality. This short story analyses detailed socio-economic data for long-term migrant groups by nationality and country of birth. Owing to the volume of multivariate migration data available from the 2011 Census, further analyses will be published at a later date.

International migration1 is an important driver of population change and can be measured in a variety of ways. There are three ways in which international migration can be measured using the 2011 Census:

  • A person who was born outside the UK2,3, and therefore has migrated to the UK at some point in the past. However, while some non-UK born people will have migrated recently, others will have lived in the UK for many years. Moreover, many people born abroad will be UK citizens, either because their parents were UK citizens overseas at the time of their birth, or because they have been granted UK citizenship since arriving.

  • A person who holds a non-UK passport4,5 (taken to indicate a non-UK or foreign national). Again, while some non-UK nationals will have migrated to the UK recently, others will have lived in the UK for many years.

  • A person who was usually resident6 outside the UK one year prior to census day, indicating that they are recent arrivals who migrated to the UK in the year up to 27 March 2011. This definition would therefore exclude any international migrants who arrived in the UK prior to 27 March 2010 and will include some people who are UK born or UK nationals.

This analysis considers the first two of these definitions. Information on those who were resident outside the UK one year prior to census day will be published at a later date.

In 2011, 13 per cent (7.5 million) of usual residents of England and Wales were born outside the UK; almost half (46 per cent) of these held a UK passport. Data on nationality4 (derived from passports held) were collected for the first time in the 2011 Census. A previous census publication reported that 7.4 per cent (4.2 million) of the resident population of England and Wales in 2011 held only a non-UK passport. Almost all of those with no passport (97 per cent or 9.2 million) were born in the UK; those non-UK born residents with no passport (269,000) are proportionally a very small group. Similarly, UK born foreign nationals (349,000) are a small group, and are mainly the young children of foreign nationals. These figures are summarised in table 1.

The economic and social characteristics of migrant groups will be affected by demographic characteristics such as age; table 2 summarises the median ages of all of the sub-groups in this short story. Non-UK passport holders are on average much younger than UK passport holders; those without passports (including older residents whose passports have expired, children who have not yet acquired a passport, foreign nationals travelling on national identity cards rather than passports, those who do not travel abroad, and asylum seekers) have a similar median age to UK passport holders. Median age for those born in the UK is higher than those born abroad.

Census respondents born abroad were asked when they most recently arrived to live in the UK, permitting derivation of length of residence7. The data on year of arrival for non-UK passport holders does not include those who were born in the UK (349,000). Half of the non-UK born resident population of England and Wales arrived since 2001, with a quarter arriving before 1981 (see figure 1). Foreign nationals were more dominated by recent arrivals with over three-quarters (76 per cent) arriving since 2001.

Length of time spent in the UK will have a significant effect on the socio-economic characteristics of migrants. Census data describes those who were in England and Wales on census night; the census cannot cover those migrants who have returned home, moved on elsewhere or died. Similarly, measurement of the usually resident population by the census will exclude those migrants who arrive each year, but only stay in the UK for periods of less than a year8.

This short story analyses characteristics of migrants resident in England and Wales at the time of the 2011 Census by:

  • Economic activity

  • Occupation and Industry

  • Qualifications

  • English language proficiency

  • Housing tenure

  • Health

Each section includes two tables summarising the respective characteristics by nationality and separately by country of birth. Although nationality is used principally in this story, country of birth is also used where appropriate to provide a more complete analysis, including to illustrate the change in characteristics of the foreign national and foreign-born population over time. The no passport group is included to provide a complete picture of the population. The ten most represented non-UK nationalities and countries of birth in the usually resident population of England and Wales were reported in a previous census publication; a selection of these countries are presented in each section to highlight key patterns in the data.

This story is a joint production by ONS and the Home Office.

Notes for introduction

  1. In compiling estimates of Long-Term International Migration (LTIM) flows, the Office for National Statistics uses the UN definition of a long-term international migrant, namely someone who changes his or her usual residence for a period of at least a year, so that the country of destination becomes the country of usual residence. A short-term international migrant is defined as a person who moves to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least three months but less than a year (12 months). Short-term migrants are not part of the usually resident population and are hence excluded from the analyses in this short story.

  2. The terms ‘born abroad’, ‘born outside the UK’, ‘foreign born’, ‘born overseas’ and ‘non-UK born’ are used interchangeably in this document.

  3. Country of birth is derived from census question 9, which asks “What is your country of birth?” Country of birth (COB) cannot change over time (except as a result of international boundary changes), unlike nationality which can change. It is a measure of ‘foreign born’ people, but includes many usual residents of England and Wales born outside the UK who have subsequently become UK citizens. In addition, some people who were UK citizens at birth even though non-UK born (for example, to parents working overseas in the armed forces) will be included.

  4. Passports held is derived from census question 22 which asks “What passports do you hold?”. This is used to determine nationality in this analysis. People may change their nationality over time or acquire dual nationality and hold more than one passport. Multivariate data tables give priority to British passports held, then Irish passports; then if someone does not have a British or Irish passport they are coded according to the response written in the ‘other’ passport box.

    What passports do you hold?

    This question should not be confused with census question 15, which deals with national identity (“How would you describe your national identity?”). Whereas passport held (nationality) is an objective measure, national identity is a subjective self-defining measure and is intended primarily to record identification with the different countries within the United Kingdom.

  5. The terms ‘passports held’, ‘nationality’ and ‘citizenship’ are used interchangeably in this document unless otherwise stated. The terms ‘Non-UK’ and ‘foreign’ nationality are also used interchangeably.

  6. The usually resident population refers to people who live in the UK for 12 months or more, including those who have been resident for less than 12 months but intend to stay for a total period of 12 months or more. The population base for the 2011 Census was the usually resident population of England and Wales, defined as anyone who, on the night of 27 March 2011, was either (a) resident in England and Wales and who had been resident, or intended to be resident in the UK for a period of 12 months or more, or (b) resident outside the UK but had a permanent England and Wales address and intended to be outside the UK for less than a year.

  7. The length of residence and year of arrival are derived from census question 10, “If you were not born in the UK, when did you most recently arrive to live here?”. This was a new question in the 2011 Census.

    If you were not born in the United Kingdom, when did you most recently arrive to live here?

    Question 10 excludes short visits; this is open to interpretation and not all respondents may have applied the same definition of a ‘short visit’. This may affect comparison with surveys that use the UN definition of long-term migration as a basis for determining the inflow of long-term migrants.

  8. A previous publication analysed short term residents who stayed in the UK for periods of less than a year.

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4. Economic activity

The data on economic activity1 describes a person’s main activity in the week before the census for those aged 16 and over. In this analysis economic activity is divided into three main categories:

  • Economically active (including those who are in full/part time employment and self employed, and those unemployed actively seeking work). Students in full-time education are excluded as study is considered to be their main activity; however economically active part-time students are included.

  • Economically inactive (including those who are retired, looking after home or family, long term sick or disabled or other).

  • Students (full-time students who are economically active or inactive, and part-time students who are economically inactive).

In contrast to ONS Labour Market employment analyses, students have been included as a separate category as study is a key reason for migration and students are therefore an important group for migration analysis. While these data reflect economic activity at the time of the census, for migrants it will not necessarily reflect the original reason for migration. For example, an individual may come to the UK to study but stay on after the course of study is complete and be working at the time of the census. However, very recent arrivals are more likely to be engaged in the activity for which they entered the UK.

Table 3a presents economic activity data for usual residents aged 16 and over by UK and foreign nationality. The majority of both UK and foreign nationals were economically active (64 per cent and 65 per cent respectively) and in employment (61 per cent and 60 per cent respectively). The percentage economically inactive was higher (28 per cent) for UK nationals compared to 18 per cent for foreign nationals. However within this category a greater percentage of UK nationals were retired (20 per cent) compared to foreign nationals (6.4 per cent), while proportionally more foreign nationals were in the ‘other’ category (including looking after family/home and long-term sick/disabled) (12 per cent) compared to 8.3 per cent for UK nationals. These differences will be partly accounted for by the younger age profile of the foreign national population resident in the UK, and other cultural factors.

The proportion of foreign nationals who were students was more than double that of UK nationals: 17 per cent compared to 8.1 per cent; this difference will be partly related to the age structures of the UK and foreign nationals, as well as reflecting the larger numbers of recent immigrants who have come to the UK to study, as reported in the Migration Statistics Quarterly Report.

Country of birth shows a broadly similar distribution across economic activity categories (table 3b).

Within the non-UK born group those who held UK nationality were less likely to be employed than foreign nationals (54 per cent and 60 per cent respectively) and more likely to be economically inactive: however, foreign nationals were more likely to be students than UK nationals (17 per cent and 8 per cent respectively); see figure 2. These differences are again likely to relate to age structure and length of residence.

Figures 3a-c summarise economic activity for the five highest ranking non-UK countries of birth, plus Nigeria (ranked seventh), by decades of arrival. Nigeria is included because a previous publication identified that, other than Poland, the number of Nigerian-born usual residents had the second largest increase (120 per cent) over the period 2001-2011. The characteristics of the sixth largest non-UK born group (those born in Bangladesh, not shown below) are similar to those of Pakistani-born.

Generally, those who arrived before 1981 were more likely to be economically inactive by 2011 than those who arrived more recently, as they are likely to be older and therefore retired. There were proportionally more students among those who arrived in the decade 2001-2011; students who arrived in earlier decades are likely to have completed their periods of study and returned home or switched to other economic activity. Long term international migration (LTIM) estimates reported in the Migration Statistics Quarterly Report have also identified the higher numbers of overseas students studying in the UK in recent years.

Nearly all of the Polish-born population arrived in the last decade (92 per cent); a previous publication highlighted that most Polish-born residents were in employment in 2011, which census data confirmed. The proportion that were students was therefore lower than for other non-UK countries of birth. The Nigerian-born population also arrived predominantly in the period 2001-2011; however this includes a high proportion of students.

Although proportionally the Indian-born economically active population was lower for those arriving in the period 2001-2011 compared to the two previous decades, the actual number of those currently economically active who arrived in 2001-2011 was 187,000, compared to 38,000 for those who arrived between 1981-1990.

The proportion economically active but unemployed for these six countries varied: for 2001-2011 arrivals it was lowest for Polish-born at 3.5 per cent and highest for Nigerian-born at 7.3 per cent.

Figure 3a: Economic activity in 2011 for residents age 16 and over in England and Wales for Indian-born and Polish-born by period of arrival

Figure 3a: Economic activity in 2011 for residents age 16 and over in England and Wales for Indian-born and Polish-born by period of arrival

Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

Figure 3b: Economic activity in 2011 for residents age 16 and over in England and Wales for Pakistani-born and Irish-born by period of arrival

Figure 3b: Economic activity in 2011 for residents age 16 and over in England and Wales for Pakistani-born and Irish-born by period of arrival

Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

Figure 3c: Economic activity in 2011 for residents age 16 and over in England and Wales for German-born and Nigerian-born by period of arrival

Figure 3c: Economic activity in 2011 for residents age 16 and over in England and Wales for German-born and Nigerian-born by period of arrival

Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

Notes for Economic activity

  1. The economic status of usual residents aged 16 and over in England and Wales was derived from the census questions 30-38 and a full breakdown of all economic categories can be found in the data table TH2203EW. The economic activity status is based on the individual’s activity on census day, rather than the reason for migration. An individual may come to the UK to study and on completion of the study remain and be working in England and Wales on census day.

    There are some differences in the levels of economic activity reported in the 2011 Census when compared with the Labour Force Survey. A previous ONS publication identifies these differences and why they occur.

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5. Occupation and industry

The 2011 Census collected self-assessed information about the jobs people held, both according to the type of work undertaken and the industry in which they worked at the time of the census. This information is classified by occupation and industry, for those who were economically active and in employment the week before the census1.

Occupation

Occupation is derived from a person’s main job title and details of the activities involved in their job2. Table 4a presents the numbers of UK and foreign nationals in the nine major occupation groups3. Professional occupations was the most common group for UK nationals and foreign nationals; such occupations require a degree level qualification or higher, for example: dentists, teachers and solicitors. The second most common group for UK nationals was Associate professional and technical, for example laboratory technicians, prison officers and paramedics. For foreign nationals the second most common group was Elementary occupations (this includes: security guards, cleaners, bar staff and hospital porters).

Overall, foreign nationals were more concentrated in Professional and Elementary occupations (39 per cent), while UK nationals were more evenly represented across most occupational groups.

When occupation is analysed by country of birth (table 4b) similar distributions across the occupation categories are seen when compared to nationality (table 4a). For the non-UK born, Professional occupations were most common (21 per cent) followed by Elementary occupations (16 per cent). For the UK-born there was a higher proportion in the Professional occupations compared to the Elementary occupations, as was the case with UK nationals. This suggests that those born abroad who have acquired UK nationality contributed to a modest increase in the Professional occupations group.

Figure 4 summarises the occupational breakdown of foreign nationals by year of arrival. UK nationals are shown for comparison. The key feature for those who arrived from 2001-2011 was the growth in the Elementary occupation group; much of this was the result of migration from Central and Eastern Europe around the time of EU expansion in May 2004.

Figure 5 presents occupational summaries for the ten highest ranking non-UK nationalities and UK nationals in 2011. The nine category occupational classification has been compressed into three groups:

  • Professional, managerial and technical

    • Managers, directors and senior officials
    • Professional occupations
    • Associate professional and technical occupations
  • Skilled, semi-skilled

    • Administrative and secretarial occupations
    • Skilled trades occupations
    • Caring, leisure and other service occupations
    • Sales and customer service occupations
    • Process, plant and machine operatives
  • Elementary

    • Elementary occupations

Of the ten non-UK nationalities most represented in the population of England and Wales, Polish and Portuguese nationals had the highest proportions in the Elementary occupations category (over 30 per cent). However, for the Professional occupations American (73 per cent), French (62 per cent) and German nationals (61 per cent) had the highest levels.

Industry

Industry data are derived from information provided on the main activity of a respondent’s employer or business3. Table 5a presents data for UK and foreign nationals (and those with no passport) in ten industrial sectors of employment. The distributions for UK and foreign nationals were similar with over two-thirds of each concentrated in the three largest sectors:

  • Public administration, education, and health

  • Distribution, hotels and restaurants

  • Banking, finance and insurance etc

UK nationals were more concentrated in the Public administration, education and health sector (29 per cent) compared to foreign nationals (23 per cent). Both foreign nationals (25 per cent) and UK nationals (21 per cent) were strongly represented in the Distribution, hotels and restaurants sector. Foreign nationals were more concentrated in Banking, finance and insurance (21 per cent) compared to UK nationals (17 per cent).

Analysis by country of birth shows a similar industrial distribution (table 5b) to that by nationality. However, the proportion working in the Public administration, education and health sector was higher for foreign-born (26 per cent) than for foreign nationals (23 per cent, from table 5a); many non-UK born have been in the country for many years and gained British nationality or had British nationality at birth, and their distribution across the range of occupational groups would appear to be broadly similar to the UK-born.

Figure 6 shows the industrial breakdown for the ten highest ranking non-UK nationalities, with UK nationals shown for comparison. The three most significant sectors of the economy in terms of employment are shown with all the other categories combined:

  • Public administration, education and health

  • Distribution, hotels and restaurants

  • Banking, finance and insurance etc

  • All other categories (including manufacturing, transport and communication, and construction).

More than a third of Pakistani nationals were employed in the Distribution, hotels and restaurants sector (38 per cent), followed by Portuguese (31 per cent) and Italians (30 per cent). A third of Nigerians were employed in the Public administration, education and health category (35 per cent), followed by Irish (32 per cent). Almost a third of French nationals (30 per cent) were employed in the Banking, finance and insurance sector, followed by Germans (28 per cent) and Americans (27 per cent).

Nearly half of Polish nationals (44 per cent) were employed in the other categories, that is sectors outside the three largest employers. The largest group in this other category for Polish nationals was manufacturing (68,000).

Notes for occupation and industry

  1. A person aged 16 and over is defined as employed (or in employment) if in the week before the census they carried out at least one hour's paid work, either as an employee or self-employed, and economically active students. This includes casual or temporary work, on a government-sponsored training scheme, doing paid or unpaid work for their own or family business, being away from work ill, on maternity leave, or on holiday or temporarily laid off.

  2. Responses are assigned an occupation code based on the Standard Occupational Classification 2010 (SOC2010).

  3. Responses are assigned an industry code based on the Standard Industrial Classification 2007 (SOC2007).

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6. Qualifications

The highest level of qualifications1 in the usually resident population in 2011 has been reported in a previous census publication; 27 per cent of usual residents held a level 4+ (degree or professional qualification) in 2011, an increase of seven percentage points from 20012 .

Table 6a presents highest qualification data for usual residents aged 16 and over in England and Wales in 2011 for UK and foreign nationals and those with no passport. This will include those who have yet to complete their education; younger ages will be most affected by this. The most frequently reported highest level of qualification among UK nationals was levels 1-3 (GCSE/A-level or equivalent), with almost half qualified at this level (44 per cent); 23 per cent of foreign nationals reported this level of qualification as their highest. By contrast, foreign nationals were most frequently qualified at level 4+ (degree level or higher) (38 per cent); this compares with 29 per cent for UK nationals. A quarter of foreign nationals also held other qualifications. These will include foreign qualifications for which the UK equivalent was not known. Almost half of those with no passport had no qualifications.

When the data are analysed by country of birth (table 6b) the qualification distributions are similar to those for nationality. However, because nearly all of those with no passports are UK born, the percentage of UK born with no qualifications is higher than for UK nationals.

Qualifications for the ten highest ranking non-UK nationalities and UK nationals are summarised in figure 7. While 30 per cent of UK nationals had qualifications at level 4+, this level was exceeded by all of the top ten foreign nationalities, with the exception of Poland (24 per cent) and Portugal (20 per cent); however, these two nationalities had the highest proportions with ‘Other’ qualifications. Over half of Americans (58 per cent), Nigerians (53 per cent) and Indians (52 per cent) were qualified at level 4+.

While 19 per cent of UK nationals had no qualifications, resident nationals of France, the United States, Germany and Nigeria all had 6 per cent or less in this category. A quarter of Irish nationals had no qualifications; this is likely to be related to the older age profile of this group (median age 49.1). There has been a general increase in formal qualifications and compulsory school education over time; therefore the age profile of different groups will affect the overall level of qualifications held.

Foreign nationals who arrived in the UK many years ago3 were not as well qualified as those who arrived more recently (see figure 8): the proportion with no qualification fell from 39 per cent for those who arrived before 1981 to 10 per cent for those arriving in 2001-2011; by contrast those qualified at level 4+ rose from 23 per cent for those arriving before 1981 to 39 per cent for those arriving in 2001-2011. While there has been a general improvement in formal qualifications both in the UK and globally over recent decades, this improvement in qualifications for foreign nationals arriving in the UK may in part also reflect tighter entrance requirements for non-EU nationals in recent years. This will vary by country of origin, with requirements imposed on migrants coming from outside the EU, rather than those (such as Polish and Portuguese) exercising their freedom of movement rights.

Figure 9 shows the two highest ranking non-UK countries of birth (India and Poland) and their highest qualifications by year of arrival; country of birth is used when looking at changes by length of residence in the UK because many older Indian-born residents will have become UK citizens. Indian-born show an increased proportion of those qualified at level 4+ over time, with the largest increase in the decade 2001-2011.

Polish-born had a lower proportion of level 4+ qualifications; however a significant proportion of those who arrived in the decade 2001-2011 held ‘Other’ qualifications (42 per cent). This may in part reflect the larger proportion of more recent Polish migrants coming to work in the UK in elementary occupations, and other jobs not requiring degree-level education. Polish-born who arrived in the two previous decades were more highly qualified, though the numbers were much smaller. The lower level of qualification for Polish-born is also reflected in the lower proportion working in professional occupations.

Figure 9: Highest level of qualification for those age 16 and over for top two non-UK countries of birth by year of arrival, 2011

Figure 9: Highest level of qualification for those age 16 and over for top two non-UK countries of birth by year of arrival, 2011

Source: Census - Office for National Statistics
Notes:
  1. Census table CT0071 was used to produce figure 9.

Notes for Qualifications

  1. Qualifications held is derived from Census 2011 question 25 which asks all usual residents aged 16 and over “Which of these qualifications do you have?”. Respondents were classified by their highest level of qualification. Those who held foreign qualifications were asked to indicate the closest UK equivalent. Educational attainment is a snapshot at one point in time, and may not reflect life/time attainment levels. Hence, when comparing highest qualification attained there is some weighting towards lower level qualifications, particularly among younger adults as they may not have completed their education.

    Which of these qualifications do you have?

    There were 11 response options for UK qualifications (plus no qualifications and foreign qualifications). For respondents who selected ‘foreign qualifications’ and ‘UK equivalent’, priority was given to the highest UK equivalent. Respondents who selected ‘foreign qualifications’ with no UK equivalent were assigned to the ‘Other’ category.

    The 11 UK qualifications were combined into four categories for the highest level of qualification, plus categories for ‘Apprenticeship’ ‘Other and ‘None’: Level 1: 1-4 O Levels/CSE/GCSEs (any grades), Entry Level, Foundation Diploma, NVQ Level 1, Foundation GNVQ, Basic/Essential Skills; Level 2: 5+ O Level (Passes)/CSEs (Grade 1)/GCSEs (Grades A*-C), School Certificate, 1 A Level/ 2-3 AS Levels/VCEs, Intermediate/Higher Diploma, Welsh Baccalaureate Intermediate Diploma, NVQ level 2, Intermediate GNVQ, City and Guilds Craft, BTEC First/General Diploma, RSA Diploma; Level 3: 2+ A Levels/VCEs, 4+ AS Levels, Higher School Certificate, Progression/Advanced Diploma, Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma, NVQ Level 3; Advanced GNVQ, City and Guilds Advanced Craft, ONC, OND, BTEC National, RSA Advanced Diploma; Level 4+: Degree (for example BA, BSc), Higher Degree (for example MA, PhD, PGCE), NVQ Level 4-5, HNC, HND, RSA Higher Diploma, BTEC Higher level, Foundation degree (NI), Professional qualifications (for example teaching, nursing, accountancy); Apprenticeship; Other: Vocational/Work-related Qualifications, Foreign Qualifications (Not stated/ level unknown).

  2. Direct comparison between 2011 and 2001 is limited, as some of the qualification estimates are not directly comparable: in 2001 the qualification question applied to ages 16-74, while in 2011 this was increased to include all usual residents aged 16 and over. Further comparisons between 2001 and 2011 show residents with ‘no qualifications’ decreased by six percentage points (29 per cent to 23 per cent) and levels 1-3 decreased by 3 percentage points (44 per cent to 41 per cent); however both these groups will include those who had not completed their education.

  3. The length of residence and year of arrival are derived from census question 10: “If you were not born in the UK, when did you most recently arrive to live here?”. This was a new question in the 2011 Census.

    If you were not born in the United Kingdom, when did you most recently arrive to live here?

    Question 10 excludes short visits; this is open to interpretation and not all respondents may have applied the same definition of a ‘short visit’. This may affect comparison with surveys that use the UN definition of long-term migration as a basis for determining the inflow of long-term migrants.

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7. English language proficiency

A self-defining question1 on proficiency in speaking English was asked for the first time in the 2011 Census, allowing analyses of differences in proficiency for different migrant groups. A previous census publication reported that 7.7 per cent (4.2 million) of the population of England and Wales had a main language other than English (English or Welsh in Wales); of these 1.3 per cent (726,000) of the population reported that they could not speak English well and 0.3 per cent (138,000) reported that they could not speak English at all. These statistics were based on the usually resident population aged 3 and over (54 million).

Table 7a shows proficiency in English for UK and foreign nationals aged 3 and over in 2011. Almost all (96 per cent) of UK nationals spoke English as their main language. Only 39 per cent of foreign nationals spoke English as their main language but a further 49 per cent could speak English well or very well. This means that in total 88 per cent of foreign nationals spoke English well, very well or as their main language. A further 9.8 per cent could not speak English well and 1.7 per cent could not speak English at all.

Table 7b presents English language proficiency for UK and non-UK born age 3 and over. Half of those born abroad spoke English as their main language; a further 40 per cent could speak English well or very well while 1.6 per cent could not speak English at all.

Figure 10 presents English language proficiency for those born abroad by year of arrival. Those who had been resident in the UK longer were more likely to report English as their main language: three quarters of those who arrived before 1981 stated that English was their main language. This compares with a third for those who arrived in 2001-2011. Migrants from English speaking countries such as Australia and South Africa accounted for a much greater proportion of migrants who arrived before 1981. Of those who arrived during the period 2001-2011, over half (54 per cent), reported speaking English well or very well. For those who arrived before 1981, this percentage was lower (17 per cent) because most (75 per cent) reported speaking English as their main language.

Of those who arrived before 1981, 6 per cent reported that they could not speak English well. This rose to 11 per cent for those who arrived between 2001 and 2011. However, the proportion who reported they could speak no English at all remained fairly constant over the decades of arrival at 1-2 per cent.

Figures 11a-c summarise English language proficiency for the three highest ranking non-UK countries of birth by year of arrival in the UK. These three countries demonstrate the wide variation in English language proficiency within the non-UK born population. For those born in India, Pakistan and Poland who arrived in the period 2001-2011, most reported that they could speak English well, very well or that it was their main language. However, 26 per cent of Polish-born who arrived in this period reported that they could not speak English well or at all, compared to 8.3 per cent for Indian-born and 19 per cent for Pakistani-born. Those who arrived from India and Pakistan in earlier decades were more likely to report that they could not speak English well or at all compared to Polish-born: for example, 4.1 per cent of Indian-born and 6.4 per cent of Pakistani-born who arrived in the decade 1981-1990 were unable to speak English at all, compared to 0.6 per cent for Polish-born.

Notes for English language proficiency

  1. English language proficiency is derived from question 19 of the 2011 Census. Those whose main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) were asked “How well can you speak English (or Welsh)?”.

    How well can you speak English?

    Proficiency in English (or Welsh) is self-reported and does not reflect any formal assessment or qualification. English proficiency of different migrant groups will be significantly determined by the spoken language of those countries (for example, Australian migrants will speak English as their main language while those from Poland will speak Polish as their main language).

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8. Housing

Housing tenure1 in 2011 has been reported in a previous census publication; this noted that 64 per cent (14.9 million) of households owned their own home in 2011. Home ownership decreased by four percentage points from 2001. Private renting increased from nine per cent (1.9 million) of households in 2001 to 15 per cent (3.6 million) in 2011.

Housing tenure has been aggregated into three categories:

  • Owned, including owned outright, owned with a mortgage, and shared ownership.

  • Social rented, including council, housing association and charitable trust properties.

  • Private rented, including living rent free.

Table 8a compares housing tenure for UK and foreign nationals living in households. Almost three-quarters of UK nationals lived in an owner occupied property (with or without a mortgage), compared to less than a third of foreign nationals. By contrast foreign nationals were much more likely to live in private rented accommodation (55 per cent) compared to UK nationals (14 per cent); this is related to length of residence and age structure: foreign nationals are younger overall (median age 31.3) than UK nationals (median age 40.6).

Social rented housing levels were similar for UK and foreign nationals (13 per cent and 12 per cent respectively). Additionally, some foreign nationals may be living in households where the head of the household and main renter is a British citizen.

The highest levels of social rented accommodation were for those with no passport (34 per cent); those with no passport have higher levels of retirement, unemployment and are more likely to be working in elementary occupations (see tables 3a and 4a).

By contrast, housing tenure for UK born and non-UK born (table 8b) suggests that those born abroad who have spent time in the UK and perhaps acquired UK citizenship were more likely to purchase property: 46 per cent of the non-UK born household population lived in owner occupied property, compared to 33 per cent of foreign nationals (table 8a).

Figure 12 shows housing tenure by year of arrival for foreign nationals; for comparison housing tenure for UK nationals is included. The data indicate that foreign nationals who have been in the UK for longer are more likely to live in an owner occupied home. Foreign nationals who arrived before 1981 had similar levels living in owner-occupied accommodation (75 per cent) compared to UK nationals (73 per cent). Those who arrived most recently (2001-2011) were much more likely to be living in private rented accommodation (67 per cent) compared to 8.1 per cent of those who arrived before 1981. For UK nationals, 14 per cent lived in the private rented sector. Differences in the use of social rented accommodation may reflect differences in entitlement and other socio-economic outcomes, such as employment or level of need.

Figure 13 shows the ten highest ranking non-UK countries of birth by housing tenure. India and Pakistan had the highest proportions living in owner-occupied accommodation (both 64 per cent), followed by the Republic of Ireland (63 per cent). This is likely to be the result of a combination of factors including length of residence in the UK, marital status, age, salary levels and access to the housing market.

Notes for Housing

  1. Housing tenure is derived from H12 of the 2011 Census, which asked ‘Does your household own or rent this accommodation?.

    Does your household own or rent this accommodation?

    If respondent selected renting (including shared ownership) then they were directed to Question H13 asking ‘Who is your landlord?’

    Who is your landlord?

  2. A communal establishment is an establishment providing managed residential accommodation. ‘Managed’ in this context means full-time or part-time supervision of the accommodation. This includes hospitals, rest and nursing homes, student halls of residence, prisons, remand centres, hostels and bed and breakfast establishments and boarding schools. These categories include staff who live on the premises.

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9. Health

General health1 of the usually resident population in 2011 has been reported in a previous census publication: it noted that 81 per cent of residents in England and Wales stated their general health was either ‘Very good’ or ‘Good’; in England this was 81 per cent and in Wales it was 78 per cent.

General health has been aggregated into three categories:

  • Good, including very good and good

  • Fair

  • Bad, including bad and very bad

Table 9a shows that foreign nationals reported the highest levels of good health in the 2011 Census at 90 per cent. This may be largely due to the age structure of this group, as a larger proportion were children or younger adults. This compares with 83 per cent for UK nationals. The lowest levels of good health were reported by those with no passport (67 per cent), who are on average older (see table 2). The proportion reporting bad health was lowest for foreign nationals (2.8 per cent), highest for those with no passport (12 per cent), with UK nationals at 4.5 per cent.

Table 9b provides a similar analysis for UK born and non-UK born. While the general pattern is similar to that of nationality, those reporting good health among the non-UK born group was slightly lower at 83 per cent, compared to 90 per cent for foreign nationals. This is probably the result of differences in age profiles as many older people born outside the UK have become UK nationals.

Figure 14 presents the proportion of the population in good health for UK-born and non-UK born by age. For both UK-born and non-UK born there is a general decline in reported good health status with age. Levels of good health reported for those under 16 are very similar for the UK-born and non-UK born population (both 97 per cent). For residents aged 16-49 the proportion reporting good health was slightly higher for the non-UK born population. In the older age categories this situation was reversed, with the UK-born population having a higher proportion reporting good health (68 per cent for age 50-74 and 38 per cent for age 75 and over) compared with the non-UK born population (65 per cent for age 50-74 and 35 per cent for age 75 and over). This may be partly explained by historical waves of migration from different countries over time

Figure 15 shows the percentage of the population reporting good health by age for the top seven non-UK countries of birth. Those reporting good health were relatively similar for all countries of birth for those aged under 35, although Bangladeshi-born aged 16-34 were slightly lower (90 per cent) than the other non-UK countries (ranging between 94 and 97 per cent). Bangladeshi-born showed a marked decline in those reporting good health in the 35-49 age groups at 72 per cent, compared to 86 per cent of all non-UK born residents reporting good health in this age group. This was repeated in age groups 50-74 and 75 and over with a lower proportion of Bangladeshi-born reporting good health (34 per cent and 17 per cent respectively) than for the UK-born (68 per cent and 38 per cent respectively) and all foreign-born residents (65 per cent and 35 per cent respectively) (see figure 14).

Nigerian-born residents generally reported better health than other residents, with 55 per cent of those age 75 and over reporting good health, compared with 38 per cent for UK born residents and 35 per cent for all non-UK born residents aged 75 and over. It is noticeable that Nigerians reported better health than other countries of birth for all age groups from age 16-34 and above.

Notes for Health

  1. The general health of respondents was derived from census question 13, “How is your health in general?”.

    How is your health in general?

    General health is a self-assessment of a person’s general state of health at the time of the Census (27 March 2011).

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10 .Background notes

  1. Univariate 2011 Census data are available via the Neighbourhood Statistics website. Relevant table numbers are provided in all download files within this publication. Multivariate data are available via the Nomis website.

  2. Further information on future releases is available online in the 2011 Census Prospectus.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. All key terms used in this publication are explained in the 2011 Census glossary. Information on the 2011 Census geography products for England and Wales is also available.

  7. All census population estimates were extensively quality assured, 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 were published alongside the first release in July 2012 and have been updated in this release, including a Quality and Methodology (QMI) document.

  8. The census developed the coverage assessment and adjustment methodology to address the problem of undercounting. It was used for both usual residents and short-term residents. The coverage assessment and adjustment methodology involved the use of standard statistical techniques, similar to those used by many other countries, for measuring the level of undercount in the census and providing an assessment of characteristics of individuals and households. ONS adjusted the 2011 Census counts to include estimates of people and households not counted.

  9. 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).

  10. 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.

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Contact details for this Article

Peter Stokes
census.customerservices@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1329 444972