White cliffs of Dover

Home / resources / briefings /

South East: Census Profile

10 Oct 2013

This briefing summarises key statistics from the 2011 Census for the South 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 South 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 South East stood at 8,634,750. About 12% of those residents (1,043,320) were born outside of the UK. This represents an increase of 60% in the foreign-born population of the region since 2001.
      More…
    • In 2011, 45% of the non-UK born population held a UK passport, and 52% held only a non-UK passport. The rest (3%) held no passport.
      More…
    • The Slough unitary authority had the highest number (54,652) as well as the highest population share (39%) of non-UK born residents in the region.
      More…
    • Between 2001 and 2011, the total non-UK born population grew the most in Slough (26,075 additional residents), but the biggest percentage increase of 125% in the non-UK born population occurred in Milton Keynes.
      More…
    • Residents born in India represent the most numerous non-UK born group in the South East (87,392), followed by residents born in Poland, Ireland, Germany and South Africa.
      More…
    • In both 2001 and 2011, the South East occupied the 2nd position in terms of both the population numbers and the population share of non-UK born residents out of the 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 South 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. Perhaps most importantly, not all foreign-born UK residents are subject to immigration control. 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. EEA nationals are also not subject to immigration control, yet are often considered migrants in public debate and in ONS net migration counts. This includes EEA nationals born outside the EEA.

    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 is 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 South East stood at 8,634,750. About 12% of those residents (1,043,320) were born outside of the UK. This represents an increase of 60% in the foreign-born population of the region since 2001

As shown in Table 1, in 2011, the total usual resident population of the South East stood at over just over 8.6 million people, 1,043,320 of which had been born outside of the UK. This represents 12.1% of the total resident population of the region (a 48.2% increase from 8.2% in 2001). In 2011, the foreign-born population of the South East accounted for 13.9% of the total non-UK born population of England and Wales; in 2001, this was 14.1%.

Since 2001, the foreign-born population grew by 391,104 persons, accounting for 61.7% of the total population growth of 634,105 usual residents in the decade. While overall the population of the South East increased by nearly 8% between 2001 and 2011, the non-UK born resident population grew by 60% in the same period.

Table 1 – Key census statistics for the South East

 20012011Change (%)
Total usual resident population800064586347507.9%
UK-born resident population734842975914303.3%
Non-UK born resident population652216104332060%
Non-UK born as share of the region's population8.2%12.1%48.2%
Share of non-UK born population of England and Wales14.1%13.9%-1%
Non-UK passport holders590109
Non-UK passport holders as share of the region's population6.8%

Return to top

In 2011, 53% of the region’s foreign-born residents were female and 41% were aged 20-39 years of age

In 2011, 41% of the region’s foreign-born residents were aged 20-39 years of age and 70% were aged 20-59 (see figure 1). In comparison, 23% of the UK-born population were between 20 and 39 years old in 2011, and 50% we aged between 20 to 59 years of age. The most common age-group for the non-UK born population of the South East was the 30-34 age-group, accounting for 12% of the non-UK born population (this statistic is 5% for the UK-born population).

Moreover, of the 1,043,320 non-UK born residents in 2011, 47% were male and 53% were female. However, the gender distribution of the non-UK born differed somewhat depending on the age-group; a slight majority of those aged 0-19 were men. Non-UK born residents within the other age-groups were more likely to be women, and this likelihood increased with age. While for the UK-born population, the proportion of women in each age-group also generally increased with age, 49% of the UK-born population were male, while 51% we female. Moreover, there were more men than women among those aged between 0 and 34, as well as 50 to 54 years of age, among the UK-born population.

Figure 1

Return to top

In 2011, 45% of the non-UK born population held a UK passport, and 52% held only a non-UK passport. The rest (3%) held no passport

In 2011, 14% of all residents of the South East held no passport. At the same time, 79% held a UK passport and 6.8% (590,109 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, 45% (471,691 residents) held a UK passport, while 52% (540,117 residents) held only a non-UK passport (see figure 2). Only 3% of the foreign-born population (31,512 residents) held no passport.

Figure 2

Return to top

The Slough unitary authority had the highest number (54,652) as well as the highest population share (39%) 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 Slough unitary authority had the highest number of non-UK born residents, with 54,652 foreign-born residents in 2011. Slough was also the locality with the highest population share of non-UK born residents in the region, with 39% of its residents born outside of the UK. Moreover, its foreign-born population accounts for over 5% of the total foreign-born population of the South East, while in total Slough’s residents represented 2% of the resident population of the region.

In terms of the non-UK born population, Slough was followed by Milton Keynes, with 46,136 foreign-born residents in the area in 2011, representing 19% of the locality’s usual resident population. In terms of the population share, however, Oxford comes out second after Slough, with 43,239 non-UK born residents in 2011 representing 28.5% of the local population. Conversely, the locality with the smallest foreign-born population was the district of Adur in the county of West Sussex, with 3,792 non-UK born residents representing 6% of the local population. However, the area with the lowest population share of non-UK born residents was the district of Havant in Hampshire, where the 6,198 non-UK born residents made up 5% of the local population in 2011.

In terms of non-UK passports held, Slough also had the highest number of residents with only a non-UK passport in 2011, with 30,936 foreign-passport holders accounting for 22% of the local population and 5% of all those with a non-UK passport in the South East (see figure 3). In this respect, Slough was closely followed by Oxford with 20% of residents (29,873 people) holding only a non-UK passport in 2011. Conversely, Adur again had the smallest percentage of residents with only a non-UK passport in 2011, with the 1,777 residents representing 3% of the local population. In terms of the population share, however, this was again lowest in Havant, where the 2,248 foreign-passport holders accounted for 2% of the area’s population.

Figure 3

While there were 1,043,320 non-UK born persons usually resident in the South East in 2011, there were also 28,470 short-term residents (defined as staying between 3 and 12 months) born outside of the UK in the region in the same year. While Slough had the largest foreign-born usual resident population, in terms of short-term residents, Oxford was the top locality in the region with 3,997 short-terms residents, amounting to 14% of all the non-UK born short-term residents in the South East.

Return to top

Between 2001 and 2011, the total non-UK born population grew the most in Slough (26,075 additional residents), but the biggest percentage increase of 125% in the non-UK born population occurred in Milton Keynes

Between 2001 and 2011, the non-UK born population increased in each county, district and unitary authority within the South East, but to varying degrees and at different speeds (see figure 4). The largest numerical increase took place in Slough, with the number of foreign-born residents rising by 26,075 persons. However, since the non-UK born population was already the largest in the region in 2001, this rise represents an increase of 91%, the 9th highest in the region. The biggest percentage increase in the non-UK born population occurred in the unitary authority of Milton Keynes, where the non-UK born population grew by 25,612 residents (from 20,524 in 2001 to 46,136 in 2011), representing a growth of 124.8%. At the same time, the non-UK born population grew the least in Rother, increasing by 821 residents; this represents a rise of 16%, the lowest in the region.

Figure 4

As shown in figure 5, although the non-UK born population has increased in each area of the South East since 2001, its distribution within the region has changed somewhat since 2001. In terms of the foreign-born as a proportion of the total resident population within a given area, the highest increase (from 8.2% to 17.6%, a 114% increase) took place in Rushmoor. The area with the lowest change in the share of the foreign-born population within the resident population was again Rother; the share increased by 10% from 5.8% in 2001 to 6.4% in 2011.

Figure 5

Return to top

Residents born in India represent the most numerous non-UK born group in the South East (87,392), followed by residents born in Poland, Ireland, Germany and South Africa

As shown in figure 6, residents born in India represent the most numerous non-UK born group in the South East with 87,392 residents, amounting to 8% of the region’s non-UK born population. This is followed by residents born in Poland (81,022), Ireland (59,125), Germany (53,202) and South Africa (50,075). Within the top 10 countries of birth for the non-UK born population are also Pakistan, United States, Zimbabwe, France and the Philippines. The resident population born in these 10 countries represents 46% of total foreign-born population of the region.

Figure 6

In terms of passports held, however, residents with Polish passports were the most numerous group (of those residents that held only a non-UK passport) with 78,579 residents holding a Polish passport in 2011, representing 13% of all residents with foreign-passports only in the South East. In this category, residents with Irish passports come second with 54,224 residents and Indian-passport holders come third, with 41,123 residents.

Of those residents born in India, 54% held a UK passport and 43% held an Indian passport (1.5% held no passport). In terms of residents born in Poland, 86% held a Polish passport only, while 5% held a UK passport and 7% held no passport. The differences in the relationship between the non-UK born and non-UK passport-holders measures in the case of Poland 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, 87% of Polish-born residents living in the South East in 2011 arrived in the UK after the 2004 EU expansion (93% since 2001). Conversely, a slight majority of 51% of Indian-born residents living in the South East in 2011 arrived in the country before 2001; as such they have had more opportunity to become eligible and apply for British citizenship.

It is important to note that the non-UK born groups were not evenly distributed across the region (see figure 7). For example, while all Slough’s residents represented 2% of the population of the region, its Indian-born residents accounted for 13% of all Indian-born of the region. Conversely, while the Southampton unitary authority held 3% of the region’s population overall, its Polish-born residents represented 10% of all the Polish-born persons living in 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 Indian-born group was the least evenly distributed among the top 5 foreign-born groups. While Indian-born residents accounted for just over 8% of the foreign-born population of the region, in the district of Gravesham, this stood at 28%, the highest in the region, while they represented the lowest proportion of the non-UK born residents in West Oxfordshire (4%). The Polish-born population was somewhat more evenly distributed. While this foreign-born group accounts for just under 8% of all the non-UK born residents of the South East, it represents 20% of local foreign-born in the Arun district, while 4% in the district of Adur, both located in the county of West Sussex.

Return to top

In terms of main spoken language, 481,423 residents of the South East (5.6% of total population) spoke a language other than English as their main language in 2011

There were 481,423 residents of the South East who spoke a language other than English as their main language in 2011. This total represents 5.6% of the total resident population aged 3 and above. Within this group, the most commonly spoken language was Polish (16%), followed by Chinese languages (Mandarin, Cantonese and all other Chinese languages, 6%) and Panjabi (6%), to name those languages spoken by more than 5 per cent of those in the South East who did not speak English as their main language. Table 2 shows the top 15 languages (or language groups) in the South East. These languages (or language groups) account for 65% of all the languages spoken by those not using English as their main spoken language.

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

 Usual residentsShare (%)*
Polish7584815.8%
Chinese languages(1)274835.7%
Panjabi272475.7%
Urdu232594.8%
Nepalese214244.5%
French195594.1%
Spanish162053.4%
Portuguese159223.3%
German142623%
Bengali(2)138042.9%
Arabic137542.9%
Tagalog/Filipino128362.7%
Italian121062.5%
Russian102972.1%
Tamil99472.1%
Other16747034.8%
Total481423100%

Among those residents of the South East who did not select English as their main spoken language in 2011, 47% reported speaking English very well and 37% speaking English well. At the same time, 14% reported not being able to speak English well, while 2% reported they couldn’t speak English at all (1% and 0.2% of all residents above the age of 3 respectively). Compared to the whole of England and Wales, foreign-born residents in the South East reported a higher English proficiency. While 84% 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 South East occupied the 2nd position in terms of both the population numbers and the population share of non-UK born residents out of the ten regions of England and Wales.

In terms of a regional comparison, the South East held the 2nd position among regions of England and Wales concerning the number of non-UK born residents in both 2001 and 2011 (see figure 8). In 2011, the number of foreign-born residents in the South East (1,043,320) was about 3 times lower than London’s 3 million foreign-born (the region with the highest number of foreign-born residents in England and Wales), while about 8 times higher than in the North East, the region with the lowest proportion of non-UK born population, where there were about 128,000 people born outside of the UK in 2011.

Figure 8

In terms of the share of the foreign-born population within the total regional population, the South East occupied the 2nd position of the regions of England and Wales in both 2001 and 2011 (see figure 9) – in 2011, this stood at 12%. The region with the lowest share of the foreign-born population was the North East, where those born outside of the UK made up 5% of the residents. On the other hand, the region with the highest proportion of non-UK born residents was London (37%).

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 Slough’s usually resident population, the relative confidence interval at the 95% level was 2.2%, suggesting a 95% probability that the true value of the population lies somewhere between 137,120 and 143,290 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