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EDITIONS
Monday, 30 September, 2002, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Census analysis: England
Birmingham City Hall, Victoria Square
There were population losses for Birmingham

Results from the 2001 census estimate the size of the U.K population to be 58,789,194 marking a slight increase since the previous census in 1991.

Open in new window : Census 2001
The numbers at-a-glance

The results from the census are important in helping the Government and local councils target public spending. In contrast to the figures initially released in 1991, the new figures already takes into account people who did not return their Census form.

Because the 1991 census was later found to have missed over a million people, a better base for comparison is the 1991 mid year estimate of 57.8 million.

On this basis the increase in population over the decade is only 1.7%.

Ageing population

This is considerably smaller than the increase over previous decades, and less than the recent mid population estimates made by the Office for National Statistics had indicated.

Indeed over the last fifty years the U.K population has increased more slowly than in other developed countries (17% compared to 23% across the European Union and 80% in Australia), and the latest figures indicate a further slowing down.

manchester
Manchester saw the largest population decline

Perhaps the most important finding to emerge from the results so far is the ageing of the population, as this has long-term implications for population growth and for the economy.

For the first time the number of people aged over 60 exceeded the number of children aged under 16.

There was also a big increase in the number of very elderly, with 1.1 million people aged over 85 compared to 900 thousand ten years earlier.

This marks an increase of 22%, and reflects improvements in living standards and in health care which have lead to longer life expectancy. At the same time the birth rate (or total fertility rate) has fallen.

Those aged 85 and over now make up nearly 2% of the entire population compared to 0.4% fifty years ago. There are 10.8 million people over retirement age (men aged 65+ and women aged 60+) compared with 8.9 million a decade ago.

Regional differences

Over 50 years the percentage of people aged over 60 has increased from 16% to 21% whilst the proportion under 16 has fallen from 24% to 20%. The results also show that whilst boys outnumber girls (up until the age of 21), there are fewer men than women in all ages over 21.

There has been significant regional variation in population change over the last twenty years. Most notable is the continued decline of inner-city urban areas as well as a North-South drift.

The South-West was the fastest growing region, experiencing population growth almost everywhere except in the urban centres of Bristol and Plymouth

Compared to 1981, the biggest increases were found, not surprisingly, in South East England (+10.4%) and South-West England (12.5%) and East England (+11.0%), whilst the North East (-4.6%) and the North-West (-3.0%) have seen a decline in population.

Overall, the U.K population has increased by 4.3% over this period. Manchester saw the largest decline in population over the period of 15.1% though Liverpool was not far behind (-15.0%).

There were also sharp declines in the North-East in the urban areas of Newcastle, Gateshead and Middlesborough. This fits the general pattern of urban decline, whilst neighbouring suburban and rural areas (for example in Cheshire) have experienced growth.

This pattern is repeated in the West Midlands which, despite an overall increase of 1.6%, saw losses in virtually all the major metropolitan areas.

Inner-city decline

Similarly in Yorkshire and Humberside, there were increases in rural North Yorkshire, and declines in urban areas elsewhere in the region, such as Hull and Sheffield.

Nationally the fastest growing local authority was Milton Keynes (+64.4%), and the fastest growing counties included Cambridgeshire (+21.3%) Northamptonshire (+18.3%) and Devon (+17.6%)

The South-West was the fastest growing region, experiencing population growth almost everywhere except in the urban centres of Bristol and Plymouth.

There was also a substantial population increase in the East midlands although the exceptions were medium sized cities of Nottingham and Leicester. Similarly despite an overall increase of 11% the Cities of Norwich and Ipswich saw population losses, as did Brentwood, Harlow and Castle Point.

London occupies an interesting position, simultaneously experiencing the pull of the South East, and the push of inner-city decline. Perhaps it is not surprising then that it falls somewhere near the national average in terms of population growth over the twenty-year period (+5.4%).

Areas losing population were generally inner London, though one notable exception to this pattern was Tower Hamlets which saw an increase of 35%.

A contributing factor to this is the large Bangladeshi population in the Borough, though detailed statistics (including ethnicity) will not be released until February 2003.


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