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South West: Census Profile

14 Oct 2013

This briefing summarises key statistics from the 2011 Census for the South West, 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 West 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 West stood at 5,288,935. About 8% of those residents (404,660) were born outside of the UK. This represents an increase of 62% in the non-UK born population of the region since 2001.
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    • In 2011, 45% of the non-UK born population held a UK passport, and 50% held only a non-UK passport. The rest (5%) held no passport.
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    • Bristol had the highest number (63,126), while Bournemouth had the highest population share (15%), of non-UK born residents in the region.
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    • Between 2001 and 2011, the total non-UK born population grew the most in Bristol (31,815 additional residents), but the biggest percentage increase of 109% in the non-UK born population occurred in Bournemouth.
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    • Residents born in Poland represent the most numerous non-UK born group in the South West (45,099 residents), followed by residents born in Germany, India, Ireland and the United States.
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    • In both 2001 and 2011, the South West occupied the 8th position in terms of population numbers of non-UK born residents out of the ten regions of England and Wales. In terms of the population share, it occupied the 8th position in 2011, down from 7th position in 2001.
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  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 West 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 West stood at 5,288,935. About 8% of those residents (404,660) were born outside of the UK. This represents an increase of 62% 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 South West stood at just under 5.3 million people, 404,660 of which had been born outside of the UK. This represents 7.7% of the total resident population of the region (a 51.2% increase from 5.1% in 2001). In 2011, the foreign-born population of the South West accounted for 5.39% of the total non-UK born population of England and Wales; in 2001, this was 5.37%.

Since 2001, the non-UK born population grew by 155,261 persons, accounting for 43.1% of the total population growth of 360,501 usual residents in the decade. While overall the population of the South West increased by just over 7% between 2001 and 2011, the non-UK born resident population grew by 62.3% in the same period.

Table 1 – Key census statistics for the South West

 Usual residentsShare (%)*
Polish4231024%
Chinese languages(1)132237.5%
Portuguese77254.4%
French63933.6%
Spanish59743.4%
German59053.3%
Somali51312.9%
Tagalog/ Filipino49532.8%
Italian43652.5%
Bengali(2)43062.4%
Arabic42502.4%
Russian36012%
Slovak34171.9%
Lithuanian33531.9%
Hungarian33011.9%
Other5841833.1%
Total176625100%

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

In 2011, 41.3% of the region’s foreign-born residents were aged 20-39 years of age and 68.4% were aged 20-59 (see Figure 1). In comparison, 22.4% of the UK-born population were between 20 and 39 years old in 2011, and 49.6% we aged between 20 to 59 years of age. The most common age-group for the non-UK born population of the South West were the 25-29 and 30-34 age-groups, each accounting for 12% of the non-UK born population.

Figure 1

Moreover, of the 404,660 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 0-14 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 29 among the UK-born population.

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In 2011, 45% of the non-UK born population held a UK passport, and 50% held only a non-UK passport. The rest (5%) held no passport

In 2011, 20% of all residents of the South West held no passport. At the same time, 76% held a UK passport and 4.1% (218,303 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, 45.2% (182,769 residents) held a UK passport, while 49.7% (201,256 residents) held only a non-UK passport (see Figure 2). Only 5.1% of the foreign-born population (20,635 residents) held no passport.

Figure 2

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Bristol had the highest number (63,126), while Bournemouth had the highest population share (15%), 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 Bristol unitary authority had the highest number of non-UK born residents, with 63,126 foreign-born residents in 2011. Moreover, its foreign-born population accounts for 15.6% of the total foreign-born population of the South West, while in total Bristol’s residents represented 3.5% of the resident population of the region. In terms of foreign-born residents as share of all local usual residents, however, the Bournemouth unitary authority comes out in top place with 14.9% of local residents born abroad in 2011. In terms of the size of the non-UK born population, Bristol was followed by the Wiltshire unitary authority, with 37,073 foreign-born residents in the area in 2011, representing 7.9% of the locality’s usual resident population. In terms of the population share, however, Bristol comes out second after Bournemouth, its already mentioned 63,126 non-UK born residents in 2011 representing 14.7% of the local population.

Conversely, the locality with the smallest foreign-born population was the Isles of Scilly unitary authority, with 133 non-UK born residents representing 6% of the local population of 2,203. However, the population of the Isles of Scilly is relatively small compared to other areas in the region, and the area with the lowest population share of non-UK born residents was the district of Torridge in Devon, where the 2,191 non-UK born residents made up 3.4% of the local population in 2011.

In terms of non-UK passports held, Bristol also had the highest number of residents with only a non-UK passport in 2011, with 37,460 foreign-passport holders accounting for 8.8% of the local population and 17.2% of all those with only a non-UK passport in the South West (see Figure 3). In terms of the population share of foreign-passport holders, Bournemouth is the top locality, with 10% of its residents holding only a non-UK passport in 2011, amounting to 18,582 usual residents. Conversely, the Isles of Scilly again had the smallest number of residents with only a non-UK passport in 2011, with the 79 residents (representing 3.6% of the local population), followed by Torridge with 17,121 residents with only a non-UK passport. In Torridge these residents represented 1.4% of the local population, the lowest population share in the region.

While there were 404,660 non-UK born persons usually resident in the South West in 2011, there were also 11,487 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 bore resident population, Bristol also had the highest number (2,216) of non-UK born short term residents, amounting to 19.3% of all the non-UK born short-term residents in the South West.

Figure 3

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Between 2001 and 2011, the total non-UK born population grew the most in Bristol (31,815 additional residents), but the biggest percentage increase of 109% in the non-UK born population occurred in Bournemouth

Between 2001 and 2011, the non-UK born population increased in each county, district and unitary authority within the South West, but to varying degrees and at different speeds (see Figure 4). The largest numerical increase took place in Bristol, with the number of foreign-born residents rising by 31,185 persons during the intercensal period. However, the non-UK born population in Bristol was already the largest in the region in 2001, and this rise represents an increase of 102%, the 2nd highest in the region. The biggest percentage increase in the non-UK born population occurred in the unitary authority of Bournemouth, where the non-UK born population grew by 14,264 residents (from 13,150 in 2001 to 27,414 in 2011), representing a growth of 108.5%.

Figure 4

At the same time, the non-UK born population grew the least in the district of Purbeck in Dorset, increasing by an estimated 8 residents within the decade; this represents a marginal increase of 0.3%, the lowest in the region, as well as in England and Wales as a whole.

Figure 5

As shown in Figure 5, although the non-UK born population has increased in each area of the South West 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 8.1% to 14.9%, an 85.7% increase) took place in Bournemouth. The area with the lowest change in the share of the foreign-born population within the resident population was again Purbeck; in fact, the share declined by 1% from 5.46% in 2001 to 5.41% in 2011. Purbeck is the only area where the foreign-born population share declined between 2001 and 2011, according to the Census results, out of all the comparable districts and unitary authorities of England and Wales.

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Residents born in Poland represent the most numerous non-UK born group in the South West (45,099 residents), followed by residents born in Germany, India, Ireland and the United States

As shown in Figure 6, residents born in Poland represent the most numerous non-UK born group in the South West with 45,099 residents, amounting to 11% of the region’s non-UK born population. This is followed by residents born in Germany (32,447), India (26,173), Ireland (24,165) and the United States (12,104). Within the top 10 countries of birth for the non-UK born population are also China, Australia, Hong Kong, the Philippines and France. The resident population born in these 10 countries represents 45.5% of total foreign-born population of the region.

Figure 6

In terms of passports held, Poland also comes out in top place for the South West, with residents with Polish passports being the most numerous group (of those residents that held only a non-UK passport) with 42,824 residents holding a Polish passport in 2011, representing 19.6% of all residents with foreign-passports only in the South West. In this category, residents with Irish passports come second with 18,595 residents and Indian-passport holders come third, with 12,894 residents. Of those residents born in Poland, 86.8% held a non-UK passport only and 4.3% held a UK passport (8.9% held no passport). In terms of residents born in Germany, 68.4% held a UK passport (and many of these are likely to be children of British military personnel due to the large number of military bases in the region), while 23.6% held only a non-UK passport and 8.1% held no passport. For those born in India, 47% held a UK passport in 2011, while 50.4% held only a non-UK 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, 91% of Polish-born residents living in the South West in 2011 arrived in the UK after the 2004 EU expansion (94% since 2001). Conversely, a majority of 58% of Indian-born residents living in the South West 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 94% of Polish-born residents arrived in the South West after 2001, 79% of German-born residents arrived before 2001.

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

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 Bristol’s residents represented 8% of the population of the region, its Polish-born residents accounted for 14% of all Polish-born of the region. Conversely, while the Wiltshire unitary authority held 9% of the region’s population overall, its German-born residents represented 19% of all the German-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 German-born group was the least evenly distributed among the top 5 foreign-born groups. While German-born residents accounted for 8% of the foreign-born population of the region, in the district of Purbeck, this stood at 21.8%, the highest in the region, while they represented the lowest proportion of the non-UK born residents in Bristol (3.7%). The Indian-born population was similarly unevenly distributed. While this foreign-born group accounts for 6.5% of all the non-UK born residents of the South West, it represents 20.2% of local foreign-born in the Swindon unitary authority, while 1.5% in the Isles of Scilly.

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In terms of main spoken language, 176,625 residents of the South West (3.3% of total population) spoke a language other than English as their main language in 2011

There were 176,625 residents of the South West who spoke a language other than English as their main language in 2011. This total represents 3.3% of the total resident population aged 3 and above. Within this group, the most commonly spoken language was Polish (24%), followed by Chinese languages (Mandarin, Cantonese and all other Chinese languages, 7.5%) to name those languages spoken by more than 5 per cent of those in the South West who did not speak English as their main language. Table 2 shows the top 15 languages (or language groups) in the South West. These languages (or language groups) account for 67% of all the languages spoken by those not using English as their main spoken language.

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

 Usual residentsShare (%)*
Polish4231024%
Chinese languages(1)132237.5%
Portuguese77254.4%
French63933.6%
Spanish59743.4%
German59053.3%
Somali51312.9%
Tagalog/ Filipino49532.8%
Italian43652.5%
Bengali(2)43062.4%
Arabic42502.4%
Russian36012%
Slovak34171.9%
Lithuanian33531.9%
Hungarian33011.9%
Other5841833.1%
Total176625100%

Among those residents of the South West who did not select English as their main spoken language in 2011, 44% reported speaking English very well and 39% 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 (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 South West reported a higher English proficiency. While 83% 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).

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In both 2001 and 2011, the South West occupied the 8th position in terms of population numbers of non-UK born residents out of the ten regions of England and Wales. In terms of the population share, it occupied the 8th position in 2011, down from 7th in 2001

In terms of a regional comparison, the South West held the 8th position among regions of England and Wales concerning the number of non-UK born residents in both 2001 and 2011, its foreign-born population being the 3rd smallest in England and Wales (see Figure 8). In 2011, the number of foreign-born residents in the South West (404,660) was about 7 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 3 times higher than in the North East, the region with the lowest proportion of non-UK born population, where there were about 128,573 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 West occupied the 8th position of the ten regions of England and Wales in 2011, down from 7th position in 2001 (see Figure 9) – in 2011, this stood at 7.7%, the 3rd lowest in England and Wales. 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

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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 Bristol’s usually resident population, the relative confidence interval at the 95% level was 1.81%, suggesting a 95% probability that the true value of the population lies somewhere between 420,483 and 435,895 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.

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Further information

Authors

Anna Krausova
Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva

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