part of the ancient Hadrians wall in northern England

Home / resources / briefings /

North East: Census Profile

26 Nov 2013

This briefing summarises key statistics from the 2011 Census for the North East, and its constituent districts and unitary authorities. The briefing provides information about population levels; the number, population share, age and gender of foreign-born residents; as well as countries of origin, main languages and passports held. Finally, the briefing compares the North East to other regions of England and Wales and the 2001 and 2011 Census results.

  1. Key Points
    • In 2011, the total usual resident population of the North East stood at 2,596,886. About 5% of those residents (128,573) were born outside of the UK. This represents an increase of 74% in the non-UK born population of the region since 2001.
      More…
    • In 2011, 44.5% of the non-UK born population held a UK passport, and 49.5% held only a non-UK passport. The rest (6%) held no passport.
      More…
    • Newcastle had the highest number (37,579) as well as the highest population share (13%) of non-UK born residents in the region in 2011.
      More…
    • Between 2001 and 2011, the total non-UK born population grew the most in Newcastle, both in terms of a numerical (19,981 additional residents) and a percentage (+113.5%) increase in the non-UK born population.
      More…
    • Residents born in India represent the most numerous non-UK born group in the North East (10,375 residents), followed by residents born in Germany, Poland, Pakistan and China.
      More…
    • In both 2001 and 2011, the North East had the lowest population numbers as well as population share of non-UK born residents out of the ten regions of England and Wales.
      More…
  1. Understanding the Evidence

    The census is the most complete source of information about the population. It is particularly useful for obtaining population estimates for small geographical areas and information on the characteristics of such a population. Other sources of information on population characteristics in the UK such as the Labour Force Survey have large margins of error at the local level, because they are based on survey data and rely on a limited number of observations at the local level. The census is based on a count of people and households, with efforts to include everyone, but it is supplemented by a survey to detect and estimate those who are missed at first.

    The latest UK censuses were conducted during 2011, with 27 March 2011 as the official census day of record. In England and Wales the census was conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the National Records of Scotland in Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency in Northern Ireland. There are different release dates for the data in these censuses (including the migration-related data). Therefore, when comparing the North East to other parts of the UK, the current briefing uses only information from the ONS 2011 Census releases for England and Wales.

    When analysing the nature of migration, defining who counts as a migrant is of crucial importance. Yet there is no consensus on a single definition of a ‘migrant’. Different datasets—and analyses from these datasets—use a variety of definitions of ‘migrant,’ including (1) country of birth, (2) nationality, (3) passports held, (4) length of stay, (5) reason for migration and (6) being subject to immigration controls. For example, people who are foreign-born are not all foreign nationals; likewise, some foreign nationals may have lived in the UK for decades while others reside in the UK for only a year. Some are the children born abroad of UK national parent(s)–e.g. service personnel. Others are long-term residents who have acquired British citizenship.

    The data analysed in this briefing are based mainly on the census statistics for country of birth as well as passports held, not current nationality. The census collected data on passports held, and this can be used as a proxy for nationality; yet nearly 17% of the total usual resident population of England and Wales held no passport in 2011 (ONS, 2013) and data for passports held in not available for 2001, precluding the measure of change over time. When using data on country of birth, it is important to note that many of those included in the foreign-born category will have British citizenship.

    The data presented include statistics for usual residents only, unless otherwise specified. Usual residents are defined as anyone in the UK on census day who had stayed or intended to stay in the UK for 12 months or more (or were outside the UK but had a permanent UK address and intended to stay outside the UK for less than 12 months). In terms of countries of birth, data are available for 160 countries as part of regional totals. At the local level, however, data have not been provided for all countries of origin. Instead, the ONS has identified 27 key countries of origin most common at the national level, and all local analyses of the most frequent countries of origin only refer to the most frequent countries out of the 27 key countries of origin. As such, particularly at the local level, there may be other more numerous foreign-born groups that the current census release does not include. However, the totals for each region of origin are available for local areas.

    See the Migration Observatory video interview of Peter Stokes, 2011 Census Statistical Design Manager, for further discussion.

In 2011, the total usual resident population of the North East stood at 2,596,886. About 5% of those residents (128,573) were born outside of the UK. This represents an increase of 74% in the non-UK born population of the region since 2001

As shown in Table 1, in 2011, the total usual resident population of the North East stood at just under 2.6 million people, 128,573 of which had been born outside of the UK. This represents 5% of the total resident population of the region (a 68.9% share increase from 2.9% in 2001). In 2011, the foreign-born population of the North East accounted for 1.7% of the total non-UK born population of England and Wales; in 2001, this was 1.6%.

Since 2001, the non-UK born population grew by 54,840 persons, accounting for 67.3% of the total population growth of 81,444 usual residents in the decade. While overall the population of the North East increased by just over 3% between 2001 and 2011, the non-UK born resident population grew by 74.4% in the same period.

Table 1 – Key census statistics for the North East

 20012011Change (%)
Total usual resident population251544225968863.2%
UK-born resident population244170924683131.1%
Non-UK born resident population7373312857374.4%
Non-UK born as share of the region's population2.9%5%68.9%
Share of non-UK born population of England and Wales1.6%1.7%7.9%
Non-UK passport holders68736
Non-UK passport holders as share of the region's population2.7%

Return to top

In 2011, 51% of the region’s foreign-born residents were male and 49% were aged 20-39 years of age

In 2011, 49.3% of the region’s foreign-born residents were aged 20-39 years of age and 74.3% were aged 20-59 (see Figure 1). In comparison, 24.2% of the UK-born population were between 20 and 39 years old in 2011. The most common age-group for the non-UK born population of the North East were the 20-24 and 25-29 age-groups, each accounting for 13% of the non-UK born population.

Moreover, of the 128,573 non-UK born residents in 2011, 51.1% were male and 48.9% were female. However, the gender distribution of the non-UK born differed somewhat depending on the age-group; a slight majority of those aged 45-49, 55-64 and 70+ were women. Within the non-UK born group, the age-group with the largest male share (53.3%) was the 20 to 24 category.

Figure 1

Return to top

In 2011, 44.5% of the non-UK born population held a UK passport, and 49.5% held only a non-UK passport. The rest (6%) held no passport

In 2011, 21% of all residents of the North East held no passport. At the same time, 76% held a UK passport and 3% (68,736 usual residents) held only a non-UK passport (see Table 1). It is important to note that for residents with dual passports, priority was given to UK passports and then Irish passports in the census data collection process. Thus, respondents with both a UK and a non-UK passport are included as having a UK passport. In terms of the non-UK born population, 44.5% (57,220 residents) held a UK passport, while 49.5% (63,573 residents) held only a non-UK passport (see Figure 2). Only 6% of the foreign-born population (7,780 residents) held no passport.

Figure 2

Return to top

Newcastle had the highest number (37,579) as well as the highest population share (13%) of non-UK born residents in the region

As shown in Figure 3, out of all the districts and unitary authorities of the region, the Newcastle upon Tyne district had the highest number of non-UK born residents, with 37,579 foreign-born residents in 2011. In fact, the Tyne and Wear metropolitan county (which includes Newcastle) had 71,657 non-UK born residents in 2011, accounting for 65% of the foreign-born population of the region (while the county as a whole represents 43% of the region’s population). Newcastle’s foreign-born population accounts for 13.4% of the local resident population. Moreover, its non-UK born population accounts for 29% of the total foreign-born population of the North East, while in total Newcastle’s residents represented 11% of the resident population of the region.

In terms of the size of the non-UK born population, Newcastle was followed by the County Durham unitary authority, with 16,663 foreign-born residents in the area in 2011, representing 3.3% of the locality’s usual resident population. In terms of the population share, however, Middlesbrough unitary authority comes out second after Newcastle, with its 11,370 non-UK born residents in 2011 representing 8.2% of the local population.

Conversely, the locality with the smallest foreign-born population was the Hartlepool unitary authority, with 2,559 non-UK born residents representing 2.3% of the local population. However, the area with the lowest population share of non-UK born residents was the Redcar and Cleveland unitary authority, where the 3,019 non-UK born residents made up 2.2% of the local population in 2011.

Figure 3

In terms of non-UK passports held, Newcastle also had the highest number of residents with only a non-UK passport in 2011, with 23,741 foreign-passport holders accounting for 34.5% of all those with only a non-UK passport in the North East (see Figure 3). In terms of the population share of foreign-passport holders, Newcastle is also the top locality, with 8.5% of its residents holding only a non-UK passport in 2011. Conversely, Redcar and Cleveland had the smallest number as well as percentage of residents with only a non-UK passport in 2011, with the 1,070 residents representing 0.8% of the local population.

While there were 128,573 non-UK born persons usually resident in the North East in 2011, there were also 6,631 short-term residents (defined as staying between 3 and 12 months) born outside of the UK in the region in the same year. As well as having the largest non-UK born resident population, Newcastle also had the highest number (3,097) of non-UK born short-term residents, amounting to 46.7% of all the non-UK born short-term residents in the North East. The lowest number (estimated 17 residents) of non-UK born short-term residents was in Redcar and Cleveland in 2011.

Return to top

Between 2001 and 2011, the total non-UK born population grew the most in Newcastle, both in terms of a numerical (19,981 additional residents) and a percentage (+113.5%) increase in the non-UK born population

Between 2001 and 2011, the non-UK born population increased in each county, district and unitary authority within the North East, but to varying degrees and at different speeds (see Figure 4). The largest numerical increase took place in Newcastle, with the number of foreign-born residents rising by 19,981 persons during the intercensal period. Newcastle also experienced the highest percentage increase in the non-UK born population with a growth of 113.5% in the decade. At the same time, the non-UK born population grew the least in Redcar and Cleveland, increasing by an estimated 89 residents within the decade; this represents an increase of 3%, the lowest in the region, as well as the second lowest for England and Wales as a whole.

Figure 4

As shown in Figure 5, as the non-UK born population increased in each area of the North East since 2001, so has there been an increase in the foreign-born share of the local population in each local area of the region. In terms of the non-UK born as a proportion of the total resident population within a given area, the highest increase (from 6.8% to 13.4%, a 97.8% increase) took place again in Newcastle. The area with the lowest change in the share of the foreign-born population within the resident population was again Redcar and Cleveland, with the non-UK born share increasing by 6% from 2.1% in 2001 to 2.2% in 2011. This represents the third lowest increase in the percentage of foreign-born residents for England and Wales.

Figure 5

Return to top

Residents born in India represent the most numerous non-UK born group in the North East (10,375 residents), followed by residents born in Germany, Poland, Pakistan and China

As shown in Figure 6, residents born in India represent the most numerous non-UK born group in the North East with 10,375 residents, amounting to 8.1% of the region’s non-UK born population. This is followed by residents born in Germany (9,797), Poland (8,759), Pakistan (8,046) and China (6,824). Within the top 10 countries of birth for the non-UK born population were also Ireland, Bangladesh, South Africa, the Philippines and Hong Kong. The resident population born in these 10 countries represents 50.3% of the total foreign-born population of the region.

In terms of passports held, Poland comes out in top place for the North East, with residents with Polish passports being the most numerous group (of those residents that held only a non-UK passport) with 8,243 residents holding a Polish passport in 2011, representing 12% of all residents with foreign-passports only in the North East. In this category, residents with Indian passports come second with 5,968 residents and Irish-passport holders come third, with 5,275 residents.

Figure 6

Of those residents born in Poland, 87% held a non-UK passport only and 4% held a UK passport (9% held no passport). In terms of residents born in Germany, 69% held a UK passport, while 20% held only a non-UK passport (and 11% held no passport). For those born in India, 46% held a UK passport in 2011, while 53% held only a non-UK passport (and 1% held no passport).

The differences in the relationship between the non-UK born and non-UK passport-holders measures in the cases of Poland, Germany and India can be partly explained, on the one hand, by the fact that EU citizens have less need to acquire UK citizenship as they are not subject to immigration controls and on the other, by the historical differences in migration from these countries. In fact, 94.7% of Polish-born residents living in the North East in 2011 arrived in the UK since 2001. Conversely, 43.1% of Indian-born residents living in the North East in 2011 arrived in the country before 2001; as such they have had more opportunity to become eligible and apply for British citizenship.

However, when comparing the differences between Poland and Germany, the importance of the EU is less clear (even though Germany has been a member state for longer), and the differences in year of arrival are more important for explaining the divergence in the relationship between country of birth and passports held. In fact, while as mentioned 95% of Polish-born residents arrived in the North East after 2001, 81% of German-born residents arrived before 2001. It is also important to note that many within the German-born category will be children of British military personnel stationed in Germany at the time of their birth, who will thus have British citizenship.

Return to top

As a percentage of the non-UK born within each area of the region, the Pakistani-born group was the least evenly distributed among the top 5 foreign-born groups

It is important to note that the top non-UK born groups were not evenly distributed across the region (see Figure 7). For example, while all Newcastle’s residents represented 11% of the population of the region, its Indian-born residents accounted for 32% of all Indian-born of the region and its Pakistani-born residents 33% of all residents born in Pakistan. Conversely, the Polish-born and German-born groups’ distribution followed more closely the overall population distribution within the region.

Figure 7

Moreover, the top 5 non-UK born groups represented differing percentages of the total non-UK born population in different areas of the region. As a share of the non-UK born within each area of the region, the Pakistani-born group was the least evenly distributed among the top 5 foreign-born groups. While Pakistani-born residents accounted for 6.3% of the foreign-born population of the region, in the Middlesbrough unitary authority, this stood at 21.8%, the highest in the region, while they represented the lowest proportion of the non-UK born residents in County Durham (1.3%). On the other hand, the Indian-born population was relatively evenly distributed in terms of its share of local foreign-born population. While this foreign-born group accounts for 8.1% of all the non-UK born residents of the North East, it represents the highest share of local foreign-born in Sunderland (10.5%), while the lowest in Redcar and Cleveland (3.2%)

Return to top

In terms of main spoken language, 70,757 residents of the North East (3% of total population) spoke a language other than English as their main language in 2011

There were 70,757 residents of the North East who spoke a language other than English as their main language in 2011. This represents 2.8% of the total resident population aged 3 and above. Within this group, the most commonly spoken language were Chinese languages (Cantonese, Mandarin and all other Chinese languages), spoken by 13% of those who used a language other than English as their main language. This was followed by Polish (12%), Bengali (8%), Arabic (7%), Urdu (5%) and Panjabi (5%), to name those languages spoken by more than 5 per cent of those in the North East who did not speak English as their main language in 2011. Table 2 shows the top 15 languages (or language groups) in the North East. These languages (or language groups) account for 70% of all the languages spoken by those not using English as their main spoken language.

Table 2 – Main spoken language if not English: North East 2011

 Usual residentsShare (%)*
Chinese languages(1)930213.2%
Polish818811.6%
Bengali(2)57878.2%
Arabic48226.8%
Urdu38035.4%
Panjabi37135.3%
Persian/Farsi23123.3%
Tagalog/Filipino19082.7%
French19002.7%
Kurdish15472.2%
German15182.2%
Spanish12671.8%
Russian11141.6%
Portuguese11061.6%
Greek11041.6%
Other2136630.2%
Total176625100%

Among those residents of the North East who did not select English as their main spoken language in 2011, 41% reported speaking English very well and 39% speaking English well. At the same time, 17% reported not being able to speak English well, while 3% reported they couldn’t speak English at all (0.5% and 0.1% of all residents above the age of 3 respectively). Compared to the whole of England and Wales, foreign-born residents in the North East reported a slightly higher English proficiency. While 80% of those who did not speak English as their main language in the region stated they could speak English very well or well, for England and Wales as a whole, this was 79% (this includes those who did not speak English or Welsh as their main language in Wales).

Return to top

In both 2001 and 2011, the North East had the lowest population numbers as well as population shares of non-UK born residents out of the ten regions of England and Wales

In terms of a regional comparison, the North East had the lowest number of non-UK born residents among regions of England and Wales (see Figure 8). In 2011, the number of foreign-born residents in the North East (128,573) was about 23 times lower than London’s 3 million foreign-born (the region with the highest number of foreign-born residents in England and Wales). In terms of the share of the foreign-born population within the total regional population, the North East also had the lowest percentage in both 2001 and 2011, 3% and 5% respectively (see Figure 9). On the other hand, the region with the highest proportion of non-UK born residents was London (37% in 2011).

Figure 8

Figure 9

Return to top

Evidence gaps and limitations

There are two main limitations of the census. Firstly, it is typically only conducted every 10 years. Therefore, other sources of information are important in order to update the information between censuses. Secondly, there are only a limited number of questions included in the census. Therefore, sources of information on the broader characteristics of the population can also complement the census information.

While the census aims to include the entire population, it does have a certain margin of error. For England and Wales as a whole, the relative confidence interval at the 95% confidence level published by the ONS was 0.15% (83,000 people more or less than the estimate). To give an example at the more local level, for Newcastle’s usually resident population, the relative confidence interval at the 95% level was 2.03%, suggesting a 95% probability that the true value of the population lies somewhere between 274,489 and 285,865 persons (ONS, 2012). Specific confidence intervals are not currently available for census data relating to country of birth.

References

  • Office for National Statistics. “Detailed country of birth and nationality analysis from the 2011 Census of England and Wales.” London, May 2013.
  • Office for National Statistics. “Confidence Intervals for the 2011 Census.” London, December 2012.

Related material

Further information

Authors

Anna Krausova
Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva

Download Full Briefing

Download

Press Contact

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

Rob McNeil

+ 44 (0)7500 970081
robert.mcneil@compas.ox.ac.uk

 Contact Us 

 Connections 

This Migration Observatory is kindly supported by the following organisations.

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