Home / press /

Major new analysis of regional migrant populations of England

06 Mar 2015

  1. Media Coverage

The new analysis – which has been provided to the BBC’s Inside Out regional current affairs show, and will be shown tonight – is the result of a statistical exercise by the Migration Observatory to provide a more up to date estimate of the migrant populations of local areas in England than the 2011 Census, which is now 4 years old.

Official Labour Force Survey data suggests the number of people born abroad living in England increased by around 565,000 between 2011 and 2014 – the most recent available data. Approximately two thirds of these migrants were born in EU countries, and one third from outside of the EU. However, currently available official data do not reveal where migrant groups of different origins have settled in the UK during this period.

This project has estimated how increases in EU and non-EU migrant populations in England are likely to have been distributed around the country, based on analysis of data from the Labour Force Survey. It examined the number of EU accession migrants (those from countries that joined the EU in 2004 or later); migrants from the old EU15 countries; and non-EU migrants in the UK at the time of the 2011 Census, and created projections of how these populations have changed over time in local areas, to estimate their current geographical distribution.

Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “These data show how different local experiences of migration have been across the UK. There are large variations in the size of migrant populations, as well as the share that come from EU countries. We have undertaken this analysis to provide a resource for anyone looking to understand local demographics of migration in the run-up to the general election.”


For further information contact:

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

To view the regional data visit: www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/number-foreign-born-local-area-district

Important: editors’ notes:

All exercises of this kind have limitations. Please bear this in mind when using the data:

  • The numbers are based on projections, not actual counts of migrants (defined as those born abroad). They should thus be treated as estimates, not facts. Other legitimate methodologies exist that may produce slightly different results.
  • The purpose of the exercise is not to produce precise numbers, but to give a general picture of how migrant populations are likely to have changed since 2011 to inform debate ahead of the general election. Small changes or detailed localised effects, in particular, cannot be measured precisely. Percentage growth in regional migration populations may reflect statistical error rather than real changes.
  • The figures are not official statistics and should not be used in the same way as official statistics (for example, for justifying funding allocations or planning public services).
  • ONS produces its own local area estimates. These are currently only available for 2013 and do include breakdowns by region of origin (e.g. EU, non-EU) and for each individual country in underlying data sheets. ONS figures are official estimates and the 2014 figures should therefore be used when they become available in August 2015.
  • The projections are based on a strong assumption that the geographical distribution of new migrants will be the same within each region in 2014 as in 2011. Migration patterns could respond to local events that unexpectedly increase or decrease the attractiveness of the area for migrants (e.g. many new business locating in the area and recruiting migrants). Local events could also affect Old EU, Accession and Non-EU nationals differently.
  • The 2011 Census counted a different number of foreign-born people than the 2011 LFS. This difference is assumed to be a discrepancy between the LFS and the Census. The projections are based on the assumption that this discrepancy would remain the same if another Census were conducted in 2014, and can thus be added directly to the 2014 LFS number of residents within each region and country of birth broad group.

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 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.
  • The Migration Observatory is funded by: the Barrow Cadbury Trust, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy, and also receives support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Press Contact

If you would like to make a press enquiry, please contact:

Rob McNeil

+ 44 (0)7500 970081

 Contact Us 


This Migration Observatory is kindly supported by the following organisations.

  • University of Oxford logo
  • COMPAS logo
  • Esmee Fairbairn logo
  • Barrow Cadbury Trust logo
  • Paul Hamlyn Foundation logo