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Changes to the migrant population of the West Midlands 2001-2011

15 Aug 2013

The first comprehensive analysis of the migrant population of the West Midlands has been released today by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory.

It showed that the area’s migrant population has increased by almost 60% (57.8%) since 2001, and that the West Midlands has the third largest proportion of foreign-born residents (11.3%) of England and Wales’ ten regions – after London and the South East.

This represents a smaller than average proportion of foreign-born residents (the national level is 13%) – however the impact of London’s very high proportion of migrants affects the national figures.

The area as a whole has fallen from third to fourth position (of ten regions of England and Wales) in terms of the size of its foreign-born population since 2001.

Numbers and shares:

  • In 2011, the total usual resident population of the West Midlands stood at 5,601,847. Close to 11.3% of those residents (629,973) were born outside of the UK, which represents an increase of 57.8% (230,691) in the foreign-born population since 2001.
  • In 2011, 49.8% of the non-UK born population held a UK passport, and 45.6% held only a non-UK passport.
  • In 2011, the West Midlands occupied the 3rd position in terms of the population share and the 4th position in terms of population numbers of non-UK born residents, out of England and Wales’ ten regions.

Regional distribution:

  • Between 2001 and 2011 Birmingham saw the largest numerical increase (77,063) in its foreign-born population of any area (district or unitary authority) outside London. The total foreign-born population of Birmingham in 2011 was 238,313.
  • Stoke on Trent saw the largest percentage increase in its foreign-born population of any district or unitary authority in the region, with an increase of 131%: up 11,776 – from 8,498 in 2001 to 20,714 in 2011.
  • Nearly three quarters (72.1%) of all foreign-born residents in the West Midlands region resided in the county of West Midlands.
  • The district of Staffordshire Moorlands had the region’s smallest proportion of foreign-born residents in the population at 2.3%.

Migrant profiles:

  • Residents born in India represent the most numerous non-UK born group in the West Midlands (99,717 residents) followed by residents born in Pakistan, Poland, Ireland, and Jamaica.
  • Of those West Midlands residents that held only a non-UK passport, Polish passport holders were the largest group (49,974) Indian passport holders come second with 42,193 residents.
  • About 93% of the population of the West Midlands spoke English or Welsh as their main language. Of the 7.2% (386,134) that did not, 72% could speak English well or very well, and only 5% (19,375) did not speak any English at all. This is a slightly lower than average level of English proficiency.
  • Among those for whom English or Welsh were not the main language, the most commonly spoken main language was Panjabi (17%), followed by Polish (13%) and Urdu (13%).

Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva, the Senior Researcher leading the census project at the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, said: “The West Midlands has seen substantial change over the last ten years, with significant increases in the migrant population of many areas – particularly Birmingham, where the increase is second only to London in numerical terms. But there is enormous variation around the West Midlands region – many districts, such as Staffordshire Moorlands, have a fewer than 1 resident in 20 who was born abroad.

“The area has seen an increase in the migrant population of 57.8%, which is substantially lower than the national average of 61.6%, but this percentage measure masks the region’s established role in the UK as a migrant receiving area, and the large migrant population it already had in 2001. Overall the West Midlands’ foreign-born population is now the fourth largest of England and Wales’ 10 regions after London, the South East and the East – in 2001 it occupied third place in this ranking. However, it still has the third largest proportion of non-UK born residents within the population.”


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