Social commentary

That figures: what the census numbers feel like

The first figures from the England and Wales census (pdf file) were released today and here’s a quick look at how they back up (or not) the changes that we’ve felt since 2001.

1. The North is getting emptier

The overwhelming majority of local authority areas significantly grew in population – the mean average being 7.1%. Not only were the small number of areas to decline largely in the North, but the number of 0-14 year olds in the North East, the North West and Yorkshire and Humber fell as well meaning that this trend is likely to continue.

Labour did a good job of physically regenerating regional centres like Birmingham and Manchester in the 2000s, but we need a radical regionalisation policy to stop the continual pull and overcrowding to the South East. (London’s population density is staggeringly high)

2. Population growth was split equally between ‘more babies’ and migration

We are a more crowded Isle.

Of the 3.7 million extra people in the country since 2001 1.628 million of them are due to net migration. This reflects the social upheaval that people felt in the mid 2000s when Polish and other central European nationals came to find work. Bear in mind the relative lack of growth in the North and that the number coming in compensated for the many Brits leaving helps to explain why the change in the South was particularly keenly noticed.

The other half of the growth is down to the fact that there are more births than deaths -i.e. people are living longer and the birth rate has gone up.

3. The number of Households is not on the increase relative to population growth.

Some people (including myself) like to point out that one reason why we have a housing crisis is because of the increase in the number of people living on their own or in small numbers partly due to relationship breakdown. For the first time this rate has steadied between 2001 and 2011– the numbers per household is largely unchanged. This supports other data that after relationship breakdown people tend to reform into new family units. And despite what the Daily Mail say things aren’t always getting worse!

4. There’s more women than men!

It’s well known that 105 males were born for every 100 Females in England and Wales but there’s still 1 million more women than men. However, this two percent difference gets nowhere near accounting for the significantly larger number of women in our churches!

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