1 in 7 people in England and Wales in 2011 were born outside of the UK

Migration is an important, though often controversial, driver of population change. The potential cost and benefit of immigration is hard to assess because its impact is often not fully realised for many years. The Census shows that the past decade has seen large-scale migration, with over a 60% increase in the non-UK born population in England & Wales.

1 in 7 people in England and Wales in 2011 were born outside of the UK

In 2011, 7.5 million or 13% of the people residing in England and Wales were born outside of the UK. This is an increase of 2.9 million people since 2001 when 4.6 million (9%) were born abroad. Some of these will be UK citizens because their parents were UK citizens overseas at the time of their birth or because they have been granted UK citizenship since arriving.

When did the Non-UK born population arrive?

Decade of arrival for non-UK born population, England and Wales, 2011

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Migration has contributed to just under half of the total population change in England and Wales between 1951 and 2011. Around half of all non-UK born living in England and Wales (3.8 million) arrived during the decade 2001-2011, mostly since 2004 when Poland and a number of other Central and Eastern European countries entered the European Union (EU).

Most non-UK born residents were born in India, Poland or Pakistan

Country of birth of non-UK born population, England and Wales, 1941 to 2011

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Ten non-UK countries of birth accounted for 45% of the foreign-born population of England and Wales. The three largest groups of non UK-born residents were Indian-born (694,000, or 1.2% of the population), Polish-born (579,000 or 1.0%) and Pakistani-born (482,000 or 0.9%).

Those born in Poland showed a near ten-fold increase between 2001 and 2011, from 58,000 (0.1% of the resident population) to 579,000 (1.0%). This was due to Poland and other central-Eastern European countries joining the EU in May 2004.

From 1961 until 2001 Indian-born was the second highest ranking non-UK country of birth and became the largest in 2011.

Moves were most common in university towns and large cities

Migration in the year prior to the 2011 Census, within local authorities and older resident migration, England and Wales, 2011

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The census also allows us to analyse movements within England and Wales, in particular those that took place in the year prior to the census. Some 4 million people moved within the same local authority in the year preceding the 2011 Census. The greatest number of moves was seen in university towns and large cities reflecting changes in term-time address for students, and also relocation for family and employment reasons.

A further 2.8 million people moved to different local authorities within the UK. The highest numbers of moves were made into London local authorities, and the greatest proportions were seen in Islington and Hammersmith and Fulham (both over 11%).

Older people more likely to move to rural and coastal areas

In contrast to the younger population, people aged 65 and over were more likely to move for reasons such as retirement, downsizing, or care requirements. The most popular destinations for older people were rural and coastal areas, especially in the South East and South West.

However, they were also less likely overall to move; 3.6% of the population aged 65 and over moved in 2011, compared with 14% of those aged under 65.

Visit the 2011 Census Analysis website for more information on what the 2011 Census told us about England and Wales, or contact census.customerservices@ons.gov.uk.