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Census shows 2.9 million increase in England and Wales’ foreign-born population. India and Poland dominate.

11 Dec 2012

New Census data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the foreign-born population of England and Wales increased by more than 2.9 million, from 4.6 million in 2001 to 7.5 million in 2011.

The number of people born in Poland living in England and Wales increased almost 10-fold, from 58,000 to 579,000, between 2001 and 2011 – making the Polish-born the second largest foreign-born group in England and Wales after the Indian-born population, which also increased from 456,000 to 694,000.

Dr Scott Blinder, Deputy Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “The last decade has seen a very noticeable change in the population of England and Wales, with the foreign-born population increasing from 9% of the population in 2001 to 13% of the population in 2011.

“The growth in England and Wales’ foreign-born population has been driven, in particular, by the increase in the number of Poland-born people and the increase in the number of Indian-born people. These two countries alone account for more than a quarter of the increase in the size of England and Wales’ migrant population.”

The 10 countries where migrants living in England and Wales were most likely to have been born are:

Country of birth 2001 Census
2011 Census
India 456,000 694,000
Poland 58,000 579,000
Pakistan 308,000 482,000
Republic of Ireland 473,000 407,000
Germany 244,000 274,000
Bangladesh 153,000 212,000
Nigeria 87,000 191,000
South Africa 132,000 191,000
United States 144,000 177,000
Jamaica 146,000 160,000

Dr Blinder added: “Other notable findings from today’s census data are that just over half of the foreign-born population of England and Wales arrived in the past 10 years. By country of birth, the number of people born in the Republic of Ireland has fallen by more than 10 per cent and that the population of Nigerian-born people in England and Wales has more than doubled – making Nigerian-born people the 7th largest group.”

“Finally, it’s worth noting that the distribution of the foreign-born population around England and Wales in 2011 was broadly similar to the spread in 2001, with the largest group – around 40% – in London. However those born in Poland were proportionally less likely to be in London with only 27% living in the capital.


For more analysis of migration information from the 2011 Census, including interactive and downloadable charts, visit: www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk

For further information contact:

Rob McNeil Senior Media Analyst, The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.
e: robert.mcneil@compas.ox.ac.uk;
Tel: 01865 274568;
Mob: 07500 970081

Editor’s Notes:

About the Migration Observatory

  • Based at the ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, the Migration Observatory provides independent, authoritative, evidence-based analysis of data on migration and migrants in the UK, to inform media, public and policy debates, and to generate high quality research on international migration and public policy issues. The Observatory’s analysis involves experts from a wide range of disciplines and departments at the University of Oxford.
  • The Migration Observatory is funded by: Unbound Philanthropy; the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and the Barrow Cadbury Trust.
  • The Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford conducts high quality research in order to develop theory and knowledge, inform policy-making and public debate, and engage users of research within the field of migration. For further details see the COMPAS website: www.compas.ox.ac.uk/.
  • COMPAS is core funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) www.esrc.ac.uk/.

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