One in six people living in England and Wales were born in a different country, census reveals


Non-UK-born population increased to 10 million in 2021, latest figures show, a 33% rise in 10 years

Computer screen close up of the question asking What Is Your Religion in the UK Census 20212F2CB6A Computer screen close up of the question asking What Is Your Religion in the UK Census 2021
India remains the most common country of birth outside the UK (1.5%), but the Romanian population in the UK has grown the fastest, with six times more people living here in 2021 than there were in 2011. Photograph: Andrew Paterson/Alamy

Carmen Aguilar GarcíaMichael Goodier and Pamela DuncanWed 2 Nov 2022 11.04 GMT

One in six people living in England and Wales in 2021 were born in a different country, according to the latest census figures.

Some 10 million people, usually resident in England and Wales (16.8%), were born outside the UK on Census Day, 21 March 2021, up from 7.5 million (13.4%) at the time of the last census in 2011.

The lowest immigrant populations were in Wales and the north-east where 1 in 14 usual residents were born outside the UK.

The non-UK-born population increased by 33% in 10 years from 7.5 to 10 million in 2021.

More than half of the total population increase in England and Wales in the past 10 years is because of positive net migration (the difference between those who immigrated into and emigrated out of England and Wales).

India remained the most common country of birth outside the UK (1.5% of all usual residents), but the biggest increase of people born outside the UK has been those from Romania, with six times as many people living here in 2021 as there were in 2011. This makes Romania the fourth most common non-UK country of birth.

Italy also entered the top 10 non-UK countries of birth, doubling the number of residents in ten years from 135,000 to 277,000.

Those born in the European Union made up 3.6 million, a third of the total non-UK-born population. This is up from 2.5 million in 2011 census and from the 1.4 million EU born residents registered in the 2001 census.

Of the 10 million residents born outside the UK, four in ten arrived in the last decade while a third of them arrived before 2001.

The census also provides information about the makeup of the 25 million households in England and Wales, including marital status.

For the first time, official census figures detail the number of same-sex people marrying in detail across the two countries.

Brighton and Hove is the same-sex capital of England and Wales, with a larger proportion of people living in same-sex marriages or civil partnerships than any other local authority.

Some 3,867 people in the city – equivalent to 1.4% – were in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership at the time of the census. That’s up from 1% who were in a same-sex civil partnership at the time of the 2011 census. Brighton and Hove was followed by Lambeth and Islington (1% of people) and Southwark (0.9%).

When including co-habiting same-sex couples, Brighton and Hove was still on top, with same-sex couples making up 3% of people.

Same-sex marriage was recognised in 2014, and has since taken over from civil partnerships as the main way of legally acknowledging a homosexual union.

Some 133,618 people across the UK (0.1%) were in a same-sex civil partnership in 2021, less than half of the 268,522 (0.2%) number in a gay marriage.

Overall, the number of people forming legal partnerships has declined since the last census. Some 47% of people were married or in a recognised civil partnership in 2011. That had dropped to 45% in 2011.

Wednesday’s release also provides data on the oldest and youngest populations across England and Wales.

The east of England witnessed the greatest population growth with close to a half a million more residents in the region than 10 years ago.

With a median age of 35, London remains England’s youngest region, with the south-west recording the oldest median age at 44 years.

However, some local authorities were significantly older: with North Norfolk recording a median age of 54 years, Rother (53) and East Lindsey (52).

Tower Hamlets in London was the youngest with a median age of 30, followed by Nottingham and Manchester and the university towns of Cambridge, Oxford and (all 31 years).


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