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population, migration, and growth. The website of Gaia Watch of the UK

Population Trends. Trends in growth, composition and migration

 

THIS PAGE HAS THREE MAIN SECTIONS, IN ORDER: GLOBAL, EUROPE, UNITED KINGDOM. EACH OF THESE SECTIONS IS SEPARATELY REFERENCED.

THE GLOBAL SECTION WAS LAST UPDATED mid–January 2009.
THE EUROPEAN SECTION WAS LAST UPDATED 24th October 2009.
THE UNITED KINGDOM SECTION WAS LAST UPDATED end of April 2010.

To go to either the European section or the UK section directly, click on the appropriate button:

 

Europe
United Kingdom (UK)

 


 

Global

1) Key Points

KEY POINTS
 
  1. In the last two and a half centuries the populations of countries have been going through the Demographic Transition – first a decline in mortality then later a decline in fertility, the former allowing a massive increase in population before the latter takes effect. But many countries have not completed the transition.
  2. The 20th century saw the world population grow from 1.6 to 6.1 billion people.
  3. In the developed regions of the world following completion of the Demographic Transition, fertility rates have generally fallen still further, at a time of massive social change, this transition being termed the Second Demographic Transition.
  4. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has had significant effects on world population growth. But even in sub–Saharan Africa where it's effects have been most severe, the resultant mortality has not prevented population growth and will not prevent future population growth in the Region.
  5. During the 20th century, there has been a massive increase in international migration, mainly from the less developed to the more developed regions; and in recent years, this migration has been the cause of about two thirds of the population growth in more developed regions.
  6. The world population is projected to increase from 6.7 billion in 2007 to 9.2 billion in 2050. This increase of 2.5 billion is roughly equivalent both to the combined present day populations of China and India, and the size of the whole world population as it was in 1950. This growth will be almost entirely in the less developed regions.
  7. The continued movement of people from rural to urban areas (urbanization), means that all the growth of the world population during the next few decades will take place in urban areas.

References in the text are given in the form (Rx).

CONTENTS
a) Past world population growth
(Click on any of the following sections to go directly to it)
b) The world population in 2006
c) The Demographic Transition
d) The Second Demographic Transition
e) International migration in recent times
f) The future
References

 

a) Past World Population Growth

The present world population is vastly greater in size than it has been during all of the history of mankind. It is only comparatively recently that the population entered into the phase of continued and accelerating population growth that has now brought the population to over 6 billion persons. In the Paleolithic Age the population was probably only around 1 million, in the Neolithic Age around 10 million, and in the Bronze age around 100 million. But during these ages, periods of population growth alternated with periods of stagnation and decline (R1).

The growth of the world population in the last two thousand years is depicted in Fig. 1. Except for recent times, data is scanty and population estimates are conjectural. There were various population fluctuations such as that caused by the plague in Europe in the 14th century, but these are ignored in the graph which simply shows the overall population trend.

 

Figure 1
world population

Graph based on data in The world at six billion, United Nations Population Division (undated)

The twentieth century saw the largest total century population increase ever. At the start there were 1.6 billion people. At the end there were 6.1 billion people. There was however a big difference in population growth between more developed regions and less developed regions. In the former the population more than doubled, but in the latter the population more than quadrupled (R2).

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b) The world population in 2006

The world population was estimated to be 6.7 billion in 2007 (R3). The 10 countries with the largest populations (millions) were:

Country Population Country Population
China
1329
Pakistan
164
India
1169
Bangladesh
159
US
306
Nigeria
148
Indonesia
232
Russian Federation
142
Brazil
192
Japan
128

Effects of the Aids epidemic

AIDS is the disease that is the eventual outcome of HIV virus infection, and it has caused so many deaths that the disease has had a significant effect on population trends. The World Health Organization recently gave (R4) the following facts about HIV:

  • Worldwide an estimated 33 million people are living with HIV.
  • Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic in 1981, 25 million people have died of AIDS globally.
  • Every day, there are 7 400 new HIV infections, 96% of which are in the low– and middle– income countries.
  • Sub–Saharan Africa remains the region most heavily affected by HIV, accounting for 67% of all people living with HIV and for 75% of AIDS deaths in 2007.
  • Recently, there is evidence that HIV is decreasing in some of the heavily affected countries such as Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, resulting in a stablization of the global epidemic.
Demographic and other consequences of HIV/AIDS

In the last decade the countries worst affected by AIDS lie in sub–Saharan Africa; in these countries mortality has surged and life expectancy dropped. But since these countries also have high fertility rates, and mostly relatively small populations, the epidemic has not caused population decline in the sub–Saharan region as a whole. “In a few countries, such as Botswana, Lesotho, and South Africa, population growth has slowed dramatically or stopped due to AIDS, but overall growth in the region surpasses that of other world regions” (R5).

In severely affected countries, AIDS–related deaths are causing the age structure of populations to change: In developing countries where HIV and AIDS are at low levels, the majority of deaths occur in the very young and very old age groups. In contrast, in countries with high HIV and AIDS incidence, the age groups most affected (in terms of actual deaths) are the working population age groups, that is people who became infected when they were adolescents or young adults. The practical consequence of this is that communities lose disproportionate numbers of both experienced workers and parents, creating gaps in society that are difficult to fill and thus having a very detrimental effect on the economies of these countries (R5).

If we focus just on food production, “a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization found that in the 10 African countries most severely affected by HIV/AIDS, the agricultural workforce will decline between 10 percent and 26 percent by 2020. Another study found that in countries such as Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia, slow growth in agricultural production could result in growing food insecurity by 2010” (R5).

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c) The Demographic Transition

The Demographic Transition

 

Births  (olive)

Deaths (red)

Population size (blue)

 

Graph showing the trends in population size, death and birth rates. Death rate decline started earlier than birth rate decline, allowing a massive growth in population.

Time in years

Births and Deaths per Year and Total Population Size

Since about 1750, the world population has grown massively, at an increasing rate until recently, from some size of the order of 500 million, to over 6 billion now. In the 'industrialized' or 'developed' world, during this period of population growth, national populations have largely completed going through what is called the 'demographic transition' (see graph above). This is the transition from a largely rural agrarian society with high fertility and mortality rates, to a predominantly urban industrial society with low fertility and mortality rates.

In the industrialized countries, generally speaking, the transition began with a large drop in mortality rate. Only much later did fertility rate decline, so the decrease in mortality rate allowed a massive population explosion. Then with the later decline in fertility rate, the population growth slowed down and has or will soon cease (we ignore here the effect of possible high future immigration). It can be seen then that there are two key transitions within the 'demographic transition' – first a mortality transition and second a fertility transition.
Population growth between these two transitions was mitigated by emigration: “Emigration played an important role in the .... transition by relieving population pressures built up by the large gap still remaining between birth and death rates in the late 19th and early 20th centuries” (R6).

The underlying causation of the demographic transition was complex; various factors were involved, such as changes in modes of agricultural production and improvements in hygiene. The timing and details of the transition however, varied considerably between countries, and in Europe, between different regions. And in France, where fertility declined relatively early, there was no big time gap between the onset of mortality decline and the onset of fertility decline (R7).

It is worth noting at this point the meaning of two much used demographic terms. First, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR). This is the number of children that would be born to a woman if current patterns of childbearing persisted throughout her childbearing years (usually considered to be ages 15 to 49). Second, The Replacement Fertility Rate (RFR). The RFR is the fertility rate that will ensure that each woman will be replaced by one daughter in the next generation (it is only women that add the males as well as the females to the population!). In developed world countries the RFR is a little over two rather than two because, first, slightly fewer girls are born than boys, and second, some baby girls do not survive to reproduce. But in the developing world, the RFR is usually higher, sometimes much higher, because in some countries there is a relatively high likelihood that newborn girls will not survive to their own reproductive age; also, if in a country many women undergo abortion to avoid the birth of unwanted daughters, this will also affect RFR. To bring fertility rate down to about two in these countries it would be necessary to lower the number of abortions and lower the high death rate amongst girls and young women.

What then has been happening, and what is likely to happen in future, in developing countries? As far as mortality is concerned, after World War Two, mortality declined considerably in developing world countries; this was mainly a consequence of public health action that reduced the impact of infectious diseases. But in recent decades improvements levelled off, the HIV pandemic playing a major role. With the worsening environmental conditions in some regions, and the likelihood of further worsening through the effects of climate change, further mortality reductions are not guaranteed.

While fertility has generally been declining in developing world countries, there has been a considerable variation in the time of onset, rate, and extent of this fertility decline. Key facts here seem to be (R8 and see also R9):

1. Taking together those countries where fertility decline has proceeded for a long time with a considerable reduction in fertility, the decline of fertility slowed down in later stages of the decline and in a few countries fertility stalled. In Argentina and Uruguay the transition began in the first half of the twentieth century, with fertility reaching about 3 in the 1950s; but since then, there has been little change in fertility and it was still above 2.5 in 1995–2000. Other countries where the fertility decline stalled were Bangladesh, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Peru and Turkey (and in Kenya where there was a dramatic fall in fertility rate, the fall stalled in the early years of the present century and births per woman remained at around 4.8 – R10). A more recent publication provides further support for the conclusion that fertility decline has stalled in some countries and may be more widespread than previously thought (R11 see also R12).

2. A certain level of human development must be reached (in particular improvements in both health and education) for any fertility transition to occur at all. Key indicators of human development here are life expectancy and literacy. And it seems likely that life expectancy needs to rise to above 70 and literacy to above 90 if fertility rate is to come down to replacement level in the near future. “Since the large majority of developing countries fall well short of these levels of human development, considerable progress will have to be made before near–replacement fertility becomes widespread” (R8).

Now the HIV/AIDS crisis of the last 25 years has halted or reversed much of the life–expectancy gains of earlier decades in many African countries (R5). Reversal of life–expectancy gains, poorly performing economies and the lower priority given to family planning programmes may have contributed to the stalling of fertility decline in sub–Saharan Africa (R11).

So it is quite possible, we think, that some developing countries may never achieve reduction of fertility to replacement level, and so never complete the demographic transition. And we note that while stalling of fertility decline is accompanied by stalls or sharp decelerations in contraceptive use trends, there is little support for the hypothesis that declining access to contraception is a main cause of stalling fertility (R13).

As Jones wrote quite a long time ago now:
“But although the early stages of demographic transition may be observed in the Third World, there is no assurance that later stages will replicate European experience and achieve, through fertility regulation, environmentally sustainable population levels” (R14).

Nevertheless, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in 2004 was maintaining the expectation that almost all the countries in the world will complete their demographic transitions by the end of the present century (R15).

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d) The Second Demographic Transition

Since around the mid 1960's, presently developed countries have been going through further demographic changes. The degree of commonality of these changes has led many experts to think these countries have been going through what has been termed the Second Demographic Transition (SDT), a concept first introduced by R. Lesthaeghe and D. Van de Kaa (see R6).

The SDT has the following features:
A decline of the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) not just to replacement level (2.1), but to well below replacement level, an upward trend in divorces, the postponement of marriage and parenthood, the substitution of cohabitation for marriage, an increase in extra–marital and extra–cohabitational childbearing and increase in non–family living. The adoption of modern contraception, especially the pill, has played a catalytic role, giving individuals the possibility to almost completely control their reproduction.

These demographic changes have coincided with, and have been driven by, socio–economic trends. Disagreement exists as to the relative importance of these various trends, and countries seem to differ in the relative importance of the trends. But trends that are generally considered to be important include increased secularization, an increasing number of young people enrolled in secondary and tertiary education, growing emancipation and labour participation of women, the growth of the service economy, the expansion of the welfare state, and the development of what are sometimes referred to as post material values, emphasizing self–realisation and personal autonomy (R6, R16, R17).

However, when the demographic changes are examined in detail, it can be seen that there has been marked variation between countries. While some convergence of trends has occurred between all developed countries, convergence has been incomplete. In Germany and it's Germanic language speaking neigbouring countries, there was a near–zero trend since 1975, while TFR increased in most Scandinavian countries from the early 1980s to the early 1990s. In Sweden, TFR rose to over 2.0 in 1992, then sharply declined to 1.5 in 1999. In the US, where TFR had fallen to well below replacement level in the 1970s, it subsequently rose to replacement level by the early 1990s. And by 1995, Southern Europe had a much lower TFR than any other region in Europe. Finally, at the end of the 1990s, some countries of Europe had a TFR 60% higher than in some others (R18).

There has also been variation between nations in sociological variables. For example, the development of cohabitation has varied between different countries in Europe, where by the early 1990s three groups of countries could be distinguished:
1. “countries where cohabitation established itself as socially accepted behaviour” for example, Sweden;
2. “countries where cohabitation slowly emerges as a form of living arrangement” for example Great Britain;
3. countries “with no or undetected cohabitation”, mainly Mediterranean countries (R19).

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e) International migration in recent times

Over the last 35 years, the number of international migrants worldwide has more than doubled. And at the start of the 21st century, one out of every 35 persons worldwide was an international migrant. In 2002, almost one in every 10 persons living in the more developed regions of the world was a migrant (R20, R21). Indeed, since 1960, the more developed regions of the world have experienced a gain in population through net immigration from the less developed regions, and this net gain increased over this period (net immigration is the balance of gross immigration and gross emigration). By the 1990–2000 period, the more developed regions were gaining about 2.6 million persons annually through net international migration (R22) and this migration was accounting for two thirds of the population growth in these regions (R20, R21). This contribution of international migration to population growth in the more developed regions has increased in significance as fertility there declined (R3).

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f) The future

The growth of the world population is now slowing down, but the total population will probably still increase massively in the near future. We say 'probably', because there is a real possibility of cataclysmic change(s) in the near or fairly near future that would cause massive and widespread increase in mortality – we think here of possible effects of climate change, other causes of reduced food production, epidemics and conflict.

To study future population growth, population projections are made, based on assumptions about the causes of population change, namely births (fertility), deaths (mortality) and international migration; generally possible cataclysmic events are ignored.
The following account is based on the population projections of the United Nations Population Division (UNPD) (R3) unless otherwise stated . The UNPD has prepared a series of projections up to the year 2050, the projections differing in the assumptions adopted. Seven projections (called 'seven variants') were prepared:

“The first five variants, namely, low, medium, high, constant–fertility and instant–replacement–fertility, differ among themselves exclusively in the assumptions made regarding the future path of fertility. The sixth variant, named constant–mortality, differs from the medium variant only with regard to the path followed by future mortality. The seventh variant, named zero–migration, differs from the medium variant only with regard to the path followed by future international migration”.

It must be recognized that projections are not the same as estimates of actual future populations; they merely give the population levels that would result if the assumptions made about fertility, mortality and migration levels were actually realized. And clearly the sixth and seventh variants do not lead to possible actual future population sizes since neither constant mortality nor zero migration are actual possibilities. These two variants are simply useful in investigating the role of mortality and migration as determinants of population change. This qualification not withstanding, it is generally thought that the medium variant is the one that comes closest to what is actually likely to happen in the future. Before we look in detail at the results of this medium variant, it is worth noting the large differences in the 2050 world population between the different variant projections. Here is the 2050 world population (millions) according to four of these variants:

Low Medium High Constant
7792 9191 10756 11858

(The US Census Bureau's projection of the 2050 population was 9536 million (R23)).

The data summarized below, which covers the projection period that ends in 1950, is based then on the medium variant. The graphs illustrate the conclusions.

The world population is projected to increase from 6.7 billion in 2007 to 9.2 billion in 2050. This increase of 2.5 billion is roughly equivalent both to the combined present day populations of China and India, and the size of the whole world population as it was in 1950! However, population growth will vary greatly between different world regions and different countries.

The United Nations Population Division divides the regions of the world into the more developed regions (MDR) and the less developed regions (LDR). The MDR are all regions of Europe plus Northern America, Australia/New Zealand and Japan. Most of future population growth will take place in the LDR, in fact in the 50 least developed countries.

The population of the MDR as a whole is projected to remain largely unchanged, indeed population growth will cease in about three decades from now and then population will begin to shrink. And if it was not for the projected net migration from developing to developed countries (expected to average 2.3 million persons annually) the population would have already started to decline. In terms of geographical regions, Europe is an extreme example of more developed regions, sub–Saharan Africa is the most extreme example of the less developed regions.

We look now at countries rather than regions. As mentioned earlier, China (1.33 billion) and India (1.17 billion) are by far the most populous countries. Thanks to a considerable extent to the adoption of the one child policy, the growth curve of the Chinese population resembles that of Europe. In contrast, the population of India is projected to continue growing beyond 2050, although the shape of the graph shows that the growth rate is decreasing.
Following China and India, the two next most populous countries are the USA and Indonesia, although the present populations are far smaller than those of China and India (USA, 306 million, Indonesia 232 million). The populations of both countries will continue to grow up to the end of the projection period, but at a lower rate of growth than the Indian population.

Population growth, Regions and countries

graph of population growth, more and less developed regions

 

graph of population growth, some countries and regions

Source: United Nations Population Division. World Population Prospects: The 2006 Revision Data Online.
In the right hand graph, S.S.Africa stands for sub–Saharan Africa
Population Database

Differences in fertility and mortality between regions and countries

MDR will continue to have relatively low fertility and infant mortality rates, with a small rise in fertility rates and continued fall in infant mortality rates. LDR will show a reduction from relatively high fertility and infant mortality rates, but there is considerable variation between regions and countries. In terms of longevity, MDR already have high life expectancy, and this is projected to continue to increase. In LDR life expectancy, presently comparatively low, will increase, and the gap between MDR and LDR will decrease slightly. The following table gives some details on fertility and life expectancy. We include also the African continent, as this is the continent with the worst record for reducing fertility and increasing life expectancy, despite the many millions of pounds/dollars poured into the continent from the developed world, much of this funding misappropriated or squandered by the African countries.

Fertility   Life Expectancy
Area 2005–2010 2045–2050   Area 2005–2010 2045–2050
World 2.55 2.02   World 67.2 75.4
MDR 1.6 1.79   MDR 76.5 82.4
LDR 2.75 2.05   LDR 65.4 74.3
Africa 4.67 2.46   Africa 52.8 66.1

The population of the LDR already greatly exceeds the population of MDR and most future population growth will take place in the LDR as already mentioned, so the projected fertility changes in the LDR are of particular interest. In terms of countries, in 2005–2010, 81 countries in the LDR, accounting for 44 per cent of the world population, had fertilities ranging from 2.1 to 4. By 2050, fertility rates in these countries is projected to decrease to 2.1 or less.

The ageing of populations and the effect of this on population growth

The populations of an increasing number of countries are ageing rapidly, through declining fertility and increasing longevity. The magnitude of these changes in population age structure is shown by the fact that according to the projections, half of the increase of the world population between 2005 and 2050 will be caused by the rise in the population aged 60 and above. In contrast, the number of children (persons under the age of 15) will decline slightly.
However, there is again large variation between regions and countries in the extent that their populations will age. Considering developing countries, many still have relatively youthful populations which are expected to age only moderately over the foreseeable future, while in the rest of the developing countries, populations are forecast to age rapidly (R3).

The effect of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on future global population growth

Although this epidemic will slow down population growth in badly affected countries, it will not prevent future regional population growth. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region yet it's population is projected to grow from 767 million in 2006 to 1.7 billion in 2050. However, the epidemic has already had serious economic and social consequences, that we mentioned in an earlier section, and that have been extensively reported in the media, most importantly the loss of a significant part of the working age group populations in affected countries. If we think just about the effects of HIV/AIDS on future food supply, the agricultural workforce will decline between 10 percent and 26 percent by 2020 in the 10 African countries that are currently most severely affected by this disease according to a study by the Food and Agriculture organization. And another study concluded that slow growth in food production in countries such as Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia, could result in growing food insecurity by the year 2010 (R5).

The distribution of population within countries

This sub–section is based on the United Nation's World urbanization prospects. The 2007 revision.

The future will show a continuation of an already well established trend – urbanization, the movement of people from rural to urban areas. Not surprisingly then, the urban population of the world is continuing to grow faster than the total world population:
“According to the 2007 Revision , the world urban population will likely increase by 3.1 billion between 2007 and 2050, passing from 3.3 billion to 6.4 billion. The expected rise in the urban population surpasses that for the whole world population over the same period (2.5 billion), implying that urban areas are expected to absorb not only all the population growth expected over the next four decades but also some of the rural population, through rural–urban migration or via the transformation of rural settlements into urban centres. As a result, the world rural population is projected to start decreasing in about a decade and 0.6 billion fewer rural inhabitants are expected in 2050 than today (a decline from 3.4 billion in 2007 to 2.8 billion in 2008)”.

Future international migration

In 2005–2010, the contribution of net migration is projected to be more than double the contribution of natural increase (births minus deaths) to population growth in eight countries or areas – Belgium, Canada, Hong Kong (China SAR), Luxembourg, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. And in a further eight countries or areas, net migration counterbalances the excess of deaths over births. These countries or areas are: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Channel Islands, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia (R3).

Considering the whole 2005–2050 period, the net number of international migrants to more developed regions is projected to be 103 million, a figure that counterbalances the excess of deaths over births (74 million) projected over the same period.
During the same period, “in terms of annual averages, the major net receivers of international migrants are projected to be the United States (1.1 million annually), Canada (200,000), Germany (150,000), Italy (139,000), the United Kingdom (130,000), Spain (123,000) and Australia (100,000). The countries with the highest levels of net emigration are projected to be: China (-329,000 annually), Mexico (-306,000), India (-241,000), Philippines (-180,000), Pakistan (-167,000) and Indonesia (-164,000)” (R3).

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References

R1. Livi–Bacci, M. (2001). A concise history of the world population. Blackwell.

R2. Population Reference Bureau Staff (2004). Transitions in world population. Population Bulletin 59, 1.

R3. United Nations (2007). World population prospects. The 2006 revision.

R4. World Health organization (2008). HIV Burden.

R5. Ashford, L. S. (2006). How HIV and AIDS affect populations. Population Reference Bureau.

R6. Van de Kaa, D. J. (1987). Europe's Second Demographic Transition. Population Bulletin, 42, 1.

R7. Woods, R. (1982). Theoretical Population Geography. Longman.

R8. Bongaarts, J. (2002). The end of the fertility transition in the developing world. Working Paper 161. Population Council.

R9. Bongaarts, J. (2005). The causes of stalling fertility transitions. Working Paper no. 204. Population Council.

R10. Westoff, C. F. & Cross, A. R. (2006). The stall in the fertility transition in Kenya. USAID.

R11. Bongaarts, J. (2008). Fertility transitions in developing countries: Progress or stagnation? Studies in Family Planning 39, 2: 105–110.

R12. Guttmacher Institute (2008). Fertility declines have stalled in many countries in Sub–Saharan Africa. Family Planning Perspectives 34, 3.

R13. Bongaarts, J. (2005). Demographic Trends. Prepared for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Population Program Review Task Force.

R14. Jones, H. (1990). Population Geography (2nd edition). Paul Chapman.

R15. Lutz, W. et al (eds) (2004). The end of world population growth in the 21st century. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

R16. Lesthaeghe, R. (1995).The second demographic transition in western countries: an interpretation. In Mason, K.O. & Jensen, A.M. (eds.). Gender and family change in industrial countries. Clarendon press, Oxford pp. 17–62.

R17. Sobotka, T. et al. (2003). Demographic shifts in the Czech Republic after 1989. A Second Demographic Transition view. European Journal of Population 19: 249–277.

R18. Coleman, D.A. (2002). Populations of the industrial world – a convergent demographic community? International. Journal of Population Geography 8:319–344.

R19. Mannheimer Centre for European Social research (1995). Household and family trends in Europe. Eurodata Newsletter no. 1.

R20. United Nations (2003). International Migration report 2002.

R21. International Organization for Migration (2003). Migration policy issues no.2.

R22. United Nations. (2004). World population prospects. The 2004 revision.

R23. U.S. Census Bureau (2008). International Data Base (IDB).

R24. United Nations (2008). World urbanization prospects. The 2007 revision.

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Europe

CONTENTS

1) KEY POINTS
2) Introduction
(click on any of the following sections to go directly to it)
3) The global context
4) The present population
5) Past growth of the population and its components – natural increase and net international migration
6) Past changes in population composition – age structure, proportion of foreigners, ethnic groups and religion
7) Future changes in the population
8) References
Acknowledgements

1) Key Points

KEY POINTS
 
  1. The overall populations of the EU 27 and the EU 25 continue to grow. With the EU 25, the population will, according to one projection, rise from 463 million in 2009 to about 470 million around 2025 then commence to slowly decline, reaching 448 million by 2051. However, already, population has slightly declined in a few countries during recent years.
  2. Population growth is caused by natural increase and net migration. International migration, not natural increase, has in recent times been the dominant factor determining the size, rate of change, and composition of most European countries. Migration is driving quite rapid population growth in some north–western countries, slowing or arresting decline in the South, accelerating decline in the East.
  3. Since the 1970s the greater part of legal long–term migration from non–European countries to Western Europe has been family–related (spouses and spouses to be), not migration of workers or refugees.
  4. Collectively, member states of the present European Union (EU) had only a small percentage of world population in 1960. But that share has fallen considerably since then because the overall rate of population growth in the EU has been lower than the rate of growth in developing countries, and these trends are set to continue.
  5. The EU population has been ageing, through falling birth rates and increased life expectancy. This ageing is set to continue, causing concern as to how governments will be able to provide adequate services for the aged. But increasing the flow of immigrants would in fact have only a small effect on the ageing process unless unimaginably large yearly net immigration took place.
  6. A fundamental on–going change of the composition of the EU population has already been underway for several decades, in terms of an increase in the proportion of foreign origin persons and in terms of religion. This is bringing about a large increase in the proportion of the total ethnic minority population of the EU.

References in the text are given in the form Rx.

2) Introduction

Europe may be variously defined, but it certainly consists of more countries than are included in the European Union (EU). First of all there are those countries in western Europe that are not included in the EU, most notably, Norway and Switzerland. Then there are Eastern European countries – Belarus, Moldova, and the Ukraine, and many would included the western part of the Soviet Union. And the Council of Europe, consisting of 47 countries, includes other countries, most notably Turkey, yet most of Turkey lies outside of what most people regard as Europe.

In this section we will mainly deal with the European Union. We will refer to:

  • the EU15 – the EU after three more countries joined in January 1995
  • the EU25 – the EU after ten more countries joined in May 2004
  • the EU27 – the EU after two more countries, Romania and Bulgaria, joined in January 2007

The countries in the EU 15 and the countries that joined in May 2004 are shown in the following table. We will also refer to one other country grouping, the Euro Area (EA) – countries that have adopted the Euro currency.

 

1995. The EU 15
Germany France Italy
Netherlands Belgium Luxembourg
Denmark Ireland United Kingdom
Greece Spain Portugal
Austria Finland Sweden
2004. The EU 25
10 New Member States
The 'A8' Others
Czech Republic Lithuania Cyprus
Estonia Poland Malta
Hungary Slovakia  
Latvia Slovenia  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3) The global context

For a long time, the population of Europe (defined in the second table below), although increasing, has fallen as a percentage of the world population. The same is true of the EU27 as the following graph shows.

The EU27's share of World Population
Data
Year Proportion Year Proportion
1960 13.29 1985 9.56
1965 12.56 1990 8.88
1970 11.76 1995 8.32
1975 10.97 2000 7.87
1980 10.27 2005 7.54
The graph
Source of data: Eurostat yearbook 2008

If we now look at the growth of the European population and compare it with the growth of countries outside Europe, we can see why despite its growth, its proportion of world population has been falling. Consider just China and India – by far the most populous countries in the world. The growth rates of these two countries have been much greater than the growth rate of Europe, or indeed of the USA. More widely, the growth rates of all World regions apart from Europe (Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern America, Oceania) have been greater that the growth rate of Europe.

Past Population Growth. Comparisons with the EU

Graph of comparison of population changes

This graph plots data for Europe and the EU27, together with the three most populous countries in the world: China, India and the USA.

The massive growth of China and India compared with Europe, means that these two countries now completely dwarf Europe in terms of population size. And if we consider world regions, while Europe grew by just 86 million 1965 to 2005, all the other regions of the world together grew by 2,147 million during the same period. So Europe's share of world population has fallen considerably in just 40 years.

Note. Europe is here defined as the EU27 together with Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Switzerland and the Ukraine.

Source: Eurostat yearbook 2008.

 

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4) The present population

By the beginning of 2009, the population of the EU 27 had grown to nearly 500 million.
The countries with the largest populations in the EU 27 were (millions):
Germany, 82.0
France, 64.4
UK, 61.6
Italy, 60.0
Spain, 45.8
Poland, 38.1.
The four biggest countries (in terms of population size) accounted for over half the EU27 population growth in 2007.
The size of various European country groupings and individual EU 27 countries is given in the following two tables.

The population of the European Union and the Euro Area (millions) 1st January 2009
EU27 EU25 Euro Area (EA)
499.7 470.6 328.6
Source of data: Eurostat: Main Demographic indicators. Total population

 

The populations of the EU 27 member states (millions) 1st January 2009
Austria
8.4
Belgium
10.8
Bulgaria
7.6
Cyprus
0.8
Czech Republic
10.5
Denmark
5.5
Estonia
1.3
Finland
5.3
France
64.4
Germany
82.0
Greece
11.3
Hungary
10.0
Italy
60.1
Ireland
4.5
Latvia
2.3
Lithuania
3.3
Luxembourg
0.5
Malta
0.4
Netherlands
16.5
Poland
38.1
Portugal
10.6
Romania
21.5
Slovakia
5.4
Slovenia
2.0
Spain
45.8
Sweden
9.3
United Kingdom
61.6
Source of data: Eurostat: Main Demographic indicators. Total population

 

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5) Past growth of the population and its components – natural increase and net international migration

5a). Actual population growth

The growth rates of the four main European country groupings slowed after the mid 1960s, steadied in the 1980s, but picked up a little in the EU 27, EU 25 and EA 15 during the period 2003 to 2007:

Population Growth, European Union (EU) and Euroarea (EA).
Graph of EU 27 and 25 Population Growth Graph of EU 15 and EA 15 Population Growth
Source of data: Eurostat: data base demo_gind Sources of data: Eurostat: data base demo_gind, and US Census Bureau

Most of the overall growth in the EU 27 group of countries during the last decade was caused by population increase in five countries: Ireland, Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom (UK) (R1).

(5b).The components of population growth – natural increase and net migration

Population growth is generally primarily caused by natural increase, that is, the excess of births over deaths. But in any particular region, migration will cause population growth when the amount of immigration exceeds the amount of emigration. The following diagram summarises the causal components of population growth.

natural change Population change, increase (growth) or decrease, depends on two things, first what is termed natural change and second, net migration. If births exceed deaths, then natural change is positive and we speak of natural increase. If gross immigration exceeds gross emigration, migration is positive, that is we have net immigration. In the EU, births have exceeded deaths, and gross immigration exceeded gross emigration. Consequently the population of the EU has been increasing for two reasons, natural increase and net immigration.

The situation in Europe is succinctly stated by Coleman “International migration is now the dominant factor determining the size, rate of change, and composition of most European countries. Migration is driving quite rapid population growth in some north–western countries, slowing or arresting decline in the South, accelerating decline in the East” (R2).

If we consider the period 1960 to the present for the EU27, we find that annual births have decreased progressively since the mid–1960s (although there has been a slight increase this century). Deaths increased significantly during the first half of this period but the increase then tailed off and this century it has fluctuated without an overall increase. Consequently taking the whole period, the gap between births and deaths has decreased considerably, in other words, natural increase has decreased, although with a slight increase this century. On the other hand, net migration in the EU27 has increased considerably since the mid–1980s and since 1992 it has been the main component of population growth (R3). The fall in net migration in 2008 was probably caused by the recession; this fits with the global migration picture: According to the Migration Policy Institute the recession has decreased the movement of economic migrants to the major immigrant–receiving countries of the world while immigrants in these receiving regions are mainly staying in their adopted countries rather than returning home, despite high unemployment and lack of jobs in these receiving regions (R4).

The following two graphs summarise the position.

EU27. Components of Population Growth
Graph of Population Growth and Net Migration EU25. Components of Population Growth
Source of data: Eurostat: data base demo_gind

One effect of recent immigration has been that several European countries would by now have had a falling population for many years in the absence of this recent inflow of immigrants – Germany Italy and Spain from 1986, 1993 and 1997 respectively (more recently, the population in Germany and a few other countries actually started to fall from 2006 onwards – R5). It is also worth noting that immigrants boost population growth not only by the size of the net inflow. They also boost the population because immigrants themselves reproduce and are on average younger than the host population. Births to foreign and foreign born nationals are a significant portion of total births – in the late 1990s, such births were particularly high in Luxembourg (48 per cent of all births) and between 10 and 13% of all births in the UK, France and Germany (R6).

Considering Fertility rates, the average fertility rate in Europe fell steadily since the mid 1960s, falling below replacement level (roughly 2.1) in the mid 1970s and reaching roughly 1.4 by the end of the recent century. Europe was here defined as the EU27 together with Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Liechstenstein, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Norway and the Russian Federation, Serbia, Switzerland and the Ukraine (R7). Here are some examples of total fertility rates in 1995. UK, 1.7; Norway, 1.9; Germany, 1.2; Spain, 1.2; Russia, 1.3 (R8). Presently, in terms of regions, fertility rates are lowest in eastern and southern Europe (R9). However, during this century, many European countries have seen a slight rise in fertility rate, although in no country other than France has this increase taken the fertility rate close to the replacement level of 2.1 (R10).

These fertility rates being so low, why is it that natural increase, although declining, has continued to exist? The answer lies primarily in population momentum:
The number of births in a population does not just depend on Total Fertility Rate, TFR (the average number of births per woman) but on the number of women of child bearing age in the population. If two similarly sized populations A and B had the same TFR but A had a greater number of women in the child bearing ages, A will produce more children than B. Now in 1965 Europe was at the peak of the post–war baby boom and the adults produced from this baby boom continued to have a big influence on demographic change until recently.

 

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6) Past changes in population composition – age structure, proportion of foreigners, ethnic groups and religion

(6a). Change in age structure

The age structure of the EU 25 population has changed considerably since 1965. In 1965 it was the younger age groups that dominated the age structure picture, with a gradual and fairly regular reduction in size of age groups from the 0–4 age group to the 95+ age group. So the largest age group was the 0–4 year age group. The population aged 65 and above was then much smaller than the pre–working age population (usually taken to be the 0–14 age groups, but also true for the 0–19 age groups).

Now the situation is very different. Birth rates have been falling and life expectancy increasing, so the population has been ageing. The proportion of the population aged 65 and above in both the present EU 25 group of countries and the present EU27 countries has increased from a little under 14 per cent in 1990 to around 17 per cent in 2007 (R11).

In 2007, the largest age groups were the 35 to 39 and 40 to 44 age groups, closely followed by neighbouring age groups so there was a bulge in the 'population pyramid', with a comparatively large working age population. As these working age persons move towards retirement, the proportion of older people in the EU will continue to increase. This has caused fears about the ability of the working age population to provide the health services required by the elderly population in the future. These fears are strengthened by consideration of the changes in total fertility rate (TFR) that we have just described. We return to the ageing of the population in section 7c.

It is conventional in helping to quantify the support needed for the elderly population, and also the support for the population of young persons, to construct support ratios.
The young age dependency ratio is usually defined as the ratio of the number of persons aged 0–14 to the number of persons aged 15–64 expressed as a percentage. The old age dependency ratio as the number of persons aged 65 and over to the number of persons aged 15–64 expressed as a percentage. The total dependency ratio combines these two indicators. Strictly speaking these ratios are potential support ratios since not all working age persons are actually working. Here are the ratios in past times.

Dependency Ratios for the EU25
Young-age Dependency Ratio Old-age Dependency Ratio Total Dependency Ratio
Source. Eurostat Data set demo_pjanind

(6b). Changes in the Composition of European populations in terms of the number of foreigners and different ethnic groups, and in terms of the extent that immigration has been labour need related.

In the EU 27 in 2006, just under 6% of the population was composed of foreigners (that is non–nationals, from other EU states and from outside the EU). The proportion ranged from 39.5% of the total population in Luxembourg, to less than 1% in Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania. There was a sex difference – in the whole EU male non–nationals made up 5.9% of the total population, compared with 5.3% with women. “Generally the majority of foreigners that have settled in most of the Member States are from other (often neighbouring) European countries” (R12).

In the EU15 the foreign population increased from 4.19 to 5.33% of the total population between 1990 and 2000. Between 1997 and 2001, most member states experienced steady increases in the inflow of foreign nationals, with some countries experiencing massive increases. Thus with Italy, the inflow of foreigners more than doubled between 1998 and 1999, while with Spain, the inflow more than tripled between 1999 and 2000. Around 2000 there were large differences between states in the percentage of foreigners in the population. Roughly a third of all foreigners were citizens of another EU member state, two–thirds coming from outside the EU15. If we look at those countries that have received the most foreign nationals, the largest foreigner groups were Turkish nationals (ethnic Turks and Kurds). Roughly three million Turkish citizens were living in one or other of the EU 15 member states. The second largest group were citizens of the former Yugoslavia – mainly Croats, Serbs, Bosnian Muslims and ethnic Albanians. The third largest group was Moroccans, the fourth, Algerians (R6).

The increase in non–nationals and their descendants from the middle of the recent century onwards has created multicultural societies. And in terms of ethnicity and religion as distinct from nationality there has been a large growth of non–Western ethnic groups (such as Blacks and Asians) and religious groups (especially Islam). In England, the country with probably the best information available, it has been estimated that the total of all non–White ethnic groups was already over 10% of the national population in 2005 (R13, R14.).

What is the composition of immigrant streams in terms of labour and non–labour migration? Prior to the 1970s most migration into developed countries was labour migration (male guest–workers and others). But in recent decades, up to three–quarters of net immigration flows have not been labour related, rather they have been of dependents including spouses, students and asylum seekers. Amongst spouses, new spouses through arranged marriages have tended to predominate (R2, R15). And since the 1970s the greater part of legal long–term migration from non–European countries to Western Europe has been family–related (R15).

Now the effect of immigration on total population increase depends of course on the extent that immigrants remain in their host countries. And it has been found that with the UK, immigration from the Caribbean Commonwealth and the Indian subcontinent (where income levels are lower than in the UK), is more permanent than immigration from predominantly White population countries, European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA (where income levels are more similar to those in the UK) (R16). This clearly promotes changes in national ethnic group composition.

 

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7) Future changes in the population

7a). The global context

As we have already seen, the global world population has grown massively in recent decades. And it is projected to continue to grow for some decades to come. But most of the growth will take place in the less developed regions (LDR) of the world, while population growth in the more developed regions (MDR), including Europe as a whole, will flatten out. The graph below summarises the population growth situation.

Population Growth – World, More Developed Regions (MDR) and Less Developed Regions (LDR)
World Population Growth
Year World MDR LDR
1950 2529 812 1717
1975 4061 1047 3014
2009 6829 1233 5596
2050 9150 1275 7875
Graph of world population growth Graph of MDR and LDR population growth
Source of data: United Nations: World Population Prospects. The 2008 revision.

Narrowing our focus to Europe as a whole, around the end of the recent millennium, Europe achieved its biggest ever share of the World population. But as we saw earlier, Europe's share of world population is falling, and it is projected to fall from about twenty per cent now to about 7 per cent by the end of the present century. This is virtually inevitable (R17). However, if we consider absolute numbers rather than percentages, we can see that there is a large variation between European regions and countries in their contribution to future population change in Europe and hence the EU's proportion of total world population growth. Looking at the period to 2050, decline is likely to be greatest in eastern Europe, followed by southern Europe (R17). Variation between individual countries is well illustrated by France and Germany. In France there is likely to be a considerable increase, in Germany a considerable drop in population (R5).

(7b). EU Population Projections

To investigate how populations may change size in the future, projections are made to cover a given time period. For such projections assumptions are first made about the principle factors affecting population size change, namely fertility (births), mortality (deaths, life expectancy) and migration (immigration and emigration). Assumptions may also be made about other factors, sometimes to investigate a specific hypothesis. Each projection is termed a 'scenario'.

The European Union Eurostat has produced projections ('Trend Series') of future population size change for the EU 25 and the EU 15.
The trend series consists of a number of variant scenarios. These scenarios do not take into account future measures (such as new laws governing migration) that might affect population change. The chief scenarios are the 'baseline', the 'high population' and the 'low population' scenarios. Details of the assumptions and methodology used to produce the various scenarios are given in R18.

We give here a summary of the assumptions made for all seven scenarios, based on Table 6 in this reference.

    Total Fertility Rate Life Expectancy Net Migration
Baseline BL Base Base Base
High Population HP High High High
Low Population LP Low Low Low
Younger Age Profile Population YP High Low High
Older Age Profile Population OP Low High Low
High fertility HF High Base Base
Zero Migration ZM Base Base Zero

Of the seven scenarios, five show the EU population declining within the first half of the present century. And the EU's overall conclusion was that “the EU Population is likely to decline”… (R18).

In the following graphs we summarise the results of the three main scenarios and the zero migration scenario. The zero migration scenario reflects the fact that at present, net immigration is the main driver of continued population growth in the EU (as it will increasingly come to be in future). But the EU concludes that continued net immigration will not be sufficient to prevent the EU population decreasing (R18).

Population Projections for the EU 25 and the EU 15
 EU25. population projections  EU15. population projections
Four projections: low variant, baseline variant , high variant, no migration variant
Source: Eurostat data sets: proj_tlp_pop; proj_tbp_pop; proj_thp_pop; proj_tzm_pop

 

The European Communities Eurostat has also prepared what they call the 'convergence scenario' projection for the EU27. The assumption is here made that “socio–economic and cultural differences between the Member States of the European Union (EU), Norway and Switzerland will fade out in the very long run (for example, next century)” (R19).

The following two graphs show the scenario for the EU27 as a whole, and the four countries with the largest national populations.

Convergence Scenario, EU27 and selected countries
EU27 Convergence scenario Countries Convergence Scenario
Source: Eurostat data set: proj_08c2150p

As the graph shows, according to this scenario, the EU27 population will continue to increase, but at an ever decreasing rate, up to 2035, after which it will begin to fall, and soon fall quite rapidly. And at the end of the projection period, its proportion of the world population will be hardly any different from the roughly 7.4% in 2008. This scenario reflects the gradual continued reduction in natural increase, indeed from 2015, natural change is projected to be negative, as deaths are projected to outnumber births (R20).

There are however, important differences between countries, as already mentioned. The German population will soon begin to fall. Italy's population will also fall during the projection period, but only after continued growth until the middle of the period. In contrast, the population of France, and even more so that of the UK, will continue to rise massively throughout the projection period.

Projections are not forecasts; nevertheless, they will be used by various parties to help them plan for the future. Yet projections become less and less reliable, the further into the future they are made, so beyond about 20 years they are very unreliable (R21).

Uncertainties about how the EU population is actually likely to change.

There are various causes of uncertainty about the future changes in the sizes of national populations, and hence of the European population. In general terms, statistics on present national populations and how these populations have already been changing - the basis from which projections must be made - are inadequate. And of course we can only conjecture how changes in EU and national population policies may change in the future and so affect the drivers of population change, namely natural increase and migration. We also suspect that 'political correctness' will tend to bias statistical analysis. Such bias, we think, may be partly responsible for the disparity between different projections that we deal with in the first of the following more specific considerations:

(1)National Population Projections
There are some national population projections that differ from the Eurostat projections: Coleman (2007) “…Eurostat, like the United Nations, has tended to underestimate immigration and does not sufficiently recognise diversity in birth rates”, so for comparison he gives the national projections of France and the UK – after Germany currently the countries in the EU with the largest populations – and he notes that these projections “envisage considerably higher totals” than the Eurostat projections (R22).

(2) Fertility
Immigration by persons from high fertility ethnic groups will obviously help to further the growth of populations. But what happens to the fertility of these groups in the second, third and beyond offspring generations? It is generally accepted that the fertility of high fertility groups will fairly rapidly converge to the fertility of the host population. And with the UK there is certainly evidence that this has happened for some groups in the past, most notably with the Indian national group. However, while there may be convergence, there are features of society in the countries of origin which, carried over into the UK, may at least slow convergence for particular groups. Thus in the 1992 book by Coleman and Salt (R23) we read (pages 512–513):
“The limited role outside the home prescribed for women by Islam may sustain higher than average fertility under most economic circumstances” Also “Asian extended family arrangements and the prevalence of family enterprises may make high fertility seem less disadvantageous than among West Indians”.

There are other reasons to doubt that fertility in some ethnic minority populations in Europe, especially Muslim groups, will decrease appreciably in coming years. Coleman in a 2006 paper notes “… fertility differences may persist if immigrant groups do not achieve socioeconomic equality, if they retain strong attachment to religious or other elements of foreign culture, and if they continue to be numerically and culturally reinforced by large–scale migration, especially through importing unacculturated spouses from high–fertility countries” (R24 page 410). We will see later (section 7d) that marriage–related migration is a major component of immigration in Europe.

And as far as religion is concerned we noted in the UK section of present page (section 6e) that “Eric Kaufmann of Birkbeck College, University of London has been studying secularisation in Europe. He notes that religious people tend to have a higher fertility than non–religious people; they “consistently choose to have more children, regardless of education, income, nation, denomination or generation”. And in an analysis of data from ten west European countries for the period 1981–2004, Kaufmann found that next to age and marital status, it was a woman's ’religiosity’ (it would be better we think to use the less judgemental term ’strength of religious affiliation’) that was the strongest predictor of the number of offspring she produced, and he states that many other studies have reached the same conclusion. He also argues that immigrants into Europe tend to be more religious than the host population and he states that several other studies have drawn this conclusion. Moreover, there seems to be little or no decline in ’religiosity’ between immigrants and their first and second generation descendants, especially with Muslims”.

The possibility of Turkey joining the EU creates further uncertainty. Turkey has some dissimilar demographic characteristics to the EU. Most importantly, the fertility rate in Turkey is higher than the overall fertility rate in the EU. So the entry of Turkey into the EU would have a significant effect on EU fertility rate.

Finally, government policies will influence fertility change. There has been a massive promotion of multiculturalism in Europe. this promotion makes it easier for immigrant groups to live in ethnic enclaves, which minimises pressures to change reproductive behaviour (R15).

(3) Possible Population competition, driving up fertility where their are rival ethnic or religious groups in the population, is another source of uncertainty.
Wolfgang Lutz, leader of the World Population Program of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, said about this competition:
“Fears related to the ethnic composition of the population and ingroup–outgroup feelings can be powerful emotional forces that may directly influence individual reproductive behavior”. He cites examples of areas where rivalry between groups within a population seems associated with fertility levels higher than one would expect from socioeconomic standing: Israel, Northern Ireland and the Baltic States. But he also points out that there are counterexamples where “ethnic–linguistic rivalry is carried out by means other than fertility levels”, and he cites francophone Canadians, non–Hispanic Californians or Germans in cities where there are many Turks (R25 page 285). This view about Turks not withstanding, we think it is possible, given current world tensions, that the imperative for jihad may spread more widely through the Muslim communities in Europe, supported by networks involving Muslim countries elsewhere in the world, leading to the development of population competition with host communities. And we note that Coleman (R15) based on the work of B.J. Siegel, stated that “minorities, usually those who feel themselves to be under threat or which have distinctive and refractory fundamentalist beliefs at variance with majority norms, may respond to the threat of dilution and extinction by maximising their demographic potential for survival”.

There is no doubt that amongst Muslim groups in Europe there are sizeable numbers of activists who see their mission to be that of jihad, of conquering the country for Islam (jihad in its 'external' aspect rather than the 'internal' aspect, the daily inner struggle to be a better person). And there can equally be no doubt that many Muslims have felt threatened by or discriminated against not only by Whites but by non–Muslim ethnic minority groups. This is just the sort of situation where competitive breeding might develop. And we note that Coleman and Salt (R23 page 513) wrote: “Where minorities feel threatened by absorption or assimilation, a 'minority effect' may make acceptance of family planning difficult and retard convergence in fertility”. And in a 2006 paper we have referred to earlier, he writes: “Increased inflows of unacculturated populations may conserve or even drive up fertility rates, as among African populations in Sweden and Britain” (R24, page 410).

Parsons in his monumental book on population competition gives specific examples, one very good one from Europe being competition in the former Yugoslavia (this example being based on work by Kapor–Stanulovic):
“…Yugoslavia was the most heterogeneous country in Europe and population competition and competitive breeding were well launched before the series of civil wars erupted and it broke up…This seemed to be operating especially powerfully in the province of Kosovo in the south (neighbouring Albania) where the proportion of ethnic Albanians is expanding rapidly because of their substantially greater birthrate. In 1989 the total fertility rate here was 4.12 (compared with 1.74 in Croatia)…The ethnic Albanians demanded more power in accordance with their numbers…” (R26).

(4) Migration.Turning to migration, we note again that most of the future projected massive growth in the world population will take place in 'developing' countries, including the poor countries of the world. World food supplies are already stretched to the limit, and climate change is likely, on balance, to have an adverse effect on food production. And already, some major regions of the world are experiencing severe reduction in water reserves needed for agriculture. So the 'push' factor for migration from these countries is likely to be stronger in the future. We think it is also likely that conflict, already widespread in some parts of the world, is likely to increase as a consequence of limitations on food production, and this will enhance the movement of peoples trying to escape from the difficult conditions in their countries. So the pressure to admit more migrants into Europe is likely to increase. At the same time, EU migration policy is still evolving, and the ability or even the desire of the EU to regulate immigration is open to question.

We noted in section 6b that the effect of immigration on total population increase depends on the extent that immigrants remain in their host countries. And it has been found that with the UK, immigration from countries where income levels are lower than in the UK is more permanent than immigration from countries where income levels are more similar to those in the UK. Now not only in the UK, but in other European countries and in the USA (with migration from Mexico) these immigrant communities are connected by extensive networks with communities in the countries of origin, resulting in a continuation and enlargement of immigration to the host countries by a process described as 'cumulative causation' by Massey and Zenteno (R27): “Once it has been experienced, therefore, international migration tends to be repeated, becoming a familiar resource used again and again as new needs arise and motivations change”. And the authors note that neglect of this cumulative causation has led the USA to greatly under–estimate the size of the Mexican population in the USA. We speculate that this neglect of cumulative causation might similarly have led to an under–estimation of the future growth of immigrant populations in Europe and hence an under–estimation of future growth of European national populations, which links with point (1) above.

Conclusion. Overall, we remain rather sceptical about the conclusion that the European population will decline this century, although if, as is very possible, economic conditions in Europe get considerably worse, this would reduce the attractiveness of Europe as a destination for migrants.

(7c). Projected ageing of European societies.

The European population will continue to age. And as mentioned earlier, this is of great concern to European governments, as it implies a large increase in spending on the services required to sustain the elderly population. This ageing is projected to take place in all members of the EU27, and two important north and central European Countries outside the EU, Norway and Switzerland.

Three ways to show ageing are first, by looking at the change in the median (not mean) age. This is projected to rise in all EU27 countries together with Norway and Switzerland. For the EU27 as a whole, the median age is projected to rise from 40.4 years in 2008 to 47.9 years in 2060. There is however considerable variation in the extent of this rise between countries. At one extreme are Poland and Slovakia when the increase is over 15 years by 2060. In contrast it is less than 5 years in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Sweden and the UK (R28).

The second way comes from looking at the changing age structure of the population. The percentage share of the total population for people aged 65 and over is projected to rise in all EU 27 countries plus Norway and Switzerland, and in only 6 countries is the projected share less than 10 percentage points. Further, considering the older old population, that is the population aged 80 and over, that population is projected to increase in all EU27 countries, not only in terms of percentage points but also in absolute numbers (R28).

The third way is to look at dependency ratios (defined above in section 6a). The projected dependency ratios for the EU27 are shown in the following histograms. While the dependency ratio for both young as well as old persons is projected to increase, a glance at the scales on the histograms shows that the young age dependency ratio is much smaller than the old age dependency ratio in the later part of the projection period, its increase since present times being relatively small.

 

EU27 Dependency Ratios
Young age Dependency Ratio Old age Dependency Ratio Total Dependency Ratio
Source: Eurostat: Statistics in focus. 72/2008

 

We saw earlier that immigrant populations can in theory help to slow down population ageing because of their slightly younger age structure. But how big is this effect likely to be in the future? Lutz and Scherbov investigated a number of scenarios that combined different assumptions in order to produce fertility and immigration rates. They concluded that even quite extreme combinations of these assumptions would only affect the ageing process quite slowly (R29, page 199). And Coleman in his 2001 Royal Society paper noted that various studies already made point to the conclusion that to maintain the then existing old age dependency ratio would require unimaginably high levels of immigration: With the EU15 a net immigration of 4.5 million per year by 2007 would be needed, and seven million per year by 2024! And it must be remembered that immigrants themselves age and come to require support (R30).

(7d). Projected change in the number of foreigners and ethnic composition

As we point out in the UK section of the present page, projections of ethnic change, very limited in scope, have been produced for England and Wales for the period 2001 to 2051. These show the 'White British and Irish' groups together decreasing from 88.7 to 63.9 per cent, the 'White non–British' group increasing from 2.7 to 11.6 per cent, and the 'non–White' ethnic minorities increasing from 8.7 to a massive 24.5 per cent! (this points to a massive ethnic transformation of England and Wales) (R24).

Unfortunately, projections of ethnic change are not a common feature in other European countries. As Coleman observed: “The criteria of ethnicity—self–ascribed but potentially perpetual — employed in the English–speaking world have no counterpart in Europe outside the UK. But concerns about integration have moved a number of European statistical offices to define as of 'foreign origin' or of 'foreign background' those belonging to the first or second generation of immigrant origin” (R31).

So what is available for some countries are projections of persons of 'foreign origin' or 'foreign background'. Here, for England and Wales, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Austria, the percentage foreign will rise in the period to 2050, and the rise is considerable to between 15 percent and over 30 per cent (R2, R24, and R32). For example, in Germany (2000 to 2050), the projected rise is from roughly 10 to 24 per cent, in Sweden (2004 to 2050) roughly 16 to 32 per cent. Further, if the percent foreign is divided into the categories per cent Western and per cent non–Western, in most countries the percentage increase is much greater in the latter than in the former. And Coleman points out that in all the continental projections the assumption is made that all or most of third generation immigrants, that is grandchildren of immigrants, become assimilated and are actually counted as native, not foreign origin. He writes “that approach tends to produce linear, not exponential, growth in the proportion of the population of foreign origin” (R24 page 415, see also R31 page 117). Furthermore, the projections ignore one significant component of populations, that is, persons of 'mixed origin' (R24).

It is clear then, that most likely there will be a large increase in the total ethnic minority population proportion of the total EU population.

Finally, it is worth noting a general point about immigration and fertility rates that Professor David Coleman (Oxford) drew attention to, and which we can apply to the ethnic minority populations of Europe:
In the long term, the minority will become the majority in a country if there remains even one region in which the proportion of the minority continues to increase through immigration and/or higher birth rates (Steinmann & Jäger 1997)” (R30 page 587). And “Any country with sub–replacement fertility and with constant levels of immigration must eventually acquire a population of predominantly, eventually entirely, immigrant origin”. (R2 page 469).

Variation between different ethnic minority groups.

So far in this sub–section we have treated minority ethnic groups or foreigners, as if they were homogeneous entities. But demographic characteristics vary between ethnic and religious groups, and this variation will affect changes in the relative size of different ethnic minority groups.

Consider, first, marriages between ethnic minorities and the numerically dominant white host population, and marriages between different ethnic minority groups, in other words, 'mixed–marriages' or 'inter–ethnic unions'. When such marriages take place, this can result in diminution or increase in the rate of size change of the groups concerned, depending on the extent the offspring identify themselves with one or the other of the ethnic groups involved in the union. Alternatively offspring of such unions may self–identify as a new mixed–origin group. Such new groups or small existing ethnic minority groups may become assimilated into a larger group. In the past inter–ethnic unions have been almost entirely with white partners (R15).

As far as Great Britain is concerned, West Indians, Africans, Arabs, Chinese and immigrants from some European countries are most inclined to take part in mixed marriages. Apart from the Chinese, few Asians are in mixed unions. It is interesting and surprising that Indians seem to show the same low propensity to marry out as the Muslim and lower status Pakistanis and Bangladeshis despite the fact that many Indians are of high status and many are non–Muslims. Studies of the population of the Netherlands show that in general, Turks and Moroccans, like the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in Great Britain, have a similar low level of marrying out from their own group. And finally, we note that as far as Muslim immigrants are concerned, which, in the case of the UK are predominantly people from Pakistan and Bangladesh, “Islam forbids women to marry out at all on pain of sentence of death (on the assumption that a woman takes the religion of her husband and thereby becomes apostate…” (R15 page 23).

Consider second, the propensity to take spouses from the home country, which we mentioned earlier in section 7b. This in our view will tend to lead to retention of home country fertility patterns. There are two categories of such unions: marriage to re–unify existing families (this is usually men bringing in wives), termed 'family re–constitution migration', and migration for the purpose of creating new marriages (this is increasingly husbands as well as wives) termed 'family–formation migration'. Together we may call these categories 'marriage related migration'. Family–formation marriage has begun to replace family re–constitution migration as a major migration stream. But taking the two categories together, “since the 1970s the greater part of legal long–term migration from non–European countries to Western Europe has been family–related…”, the proportion varying considerably between countries (R15, page 11, based on an OECD report).

Now the practice of arranged marriages varies with country of origin and religion. This practice is mostly with Asians and North Africans. Further, in the Netherlands and Belgium, there is evidence that marital choice with second generation Muslim immigrants may be the same, or even more 'traditional' than was the case with first generation immigrants: the practice of importing brides is actually increasing, and Turkish and Moroccan females are now more likely to import husbands from their home countries. Not only that, but for Turkish men, Turkish girls who have been brought up in the West are considered to be “too prone to be economically active” (R15 page 21). And in the UK it seems that among some Asian minorities from the Indian sub–continent, there seems to be a “constant preference for arranged marriage, despite considerable socio–economic progress …” (R15 page 21).

Finally, we look at religion and the rise of religious populations in European countries. With continued immigration, and maintenance of strong religious belief, and with a youthful age structure, the active Muslim population is set to increase in Great Britain from 900,000 in 2008 to 2.7 million in 2050, Hindus from 360,000 to 860,000 (R2, based on the work of Brierley). We contrast this with projections of the change in the total Great Britain population over the same period (roughly 60 to 75 million), and the European population (EU27, EU 25, EU15) where the population is likely to be smaller in 2050 than now, except for the EU 27 where population, continuing to rise, may change from 495 to 515 million during this time period. These are far smaller rates of growth. Projection data from Austria suggest that the Muslim population is set to increase from 4 per cent of the total population to between 14 and 26 per cent in 2051 (R2, based on work by Brierley and Goujon et al). As Coleman (R2 page 471) concludes:
“ … unless migration flows alter, or are changed by immigration policy, an increasingly obvious and irreversible transition of the origins of Western European populations will be well under way after mid–century”.


References

1. Eurostat (2009). Eurostat Yearbook 2009. European Commission.

2. Coleman, D. (2008). The demographic effects of international migration in Europe. Oxford Review of Economic Policy 24, 3: 452–476.

3. Eurostat. (2007). Statistics in focus. 41/2007. First demographic estimates for 2006. European Commission.

4. Migration Policy Institute (2009). Migration and the global recession. A report for the BBC World Service.

5. Eurostat. (2009). Statistics. Main tables. Site3 – TGM. European Commission.

6. Pflegerl, J. (2006). Migration, migrants and their families in the EU15 member states. Chapter 9 (pages 191–221) in The New Generations of Europeans. Demography and families in the enlarged European Union. Eds. Lutz, W. et al. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Earthscan.

7. Eurostat (2008). Europe in figures. Eurostat Yearbook 2008. European Commission.

8. US Census Bureau (2008). International Data Base.

9. Lutz, W. & Wilson, C. (2006). Chapter 1. Introduction (pages 3–17) in The New Generations of Europeans. Demography and families in the enlarged European Union. Eds. Lutz, W. et al. Earthscan.

10. European Yearbook 2009 table 3.11. European Commission.

11. Eurostat (2008). Data base: demo_pjanind. European Commission.

12. Eurostat. (2008). Statistical Portrait of the European Union. European Commission.

13. Office of National Statistics (ONS). (2006 ). Experimental Statistics. Population estimates by ethnic group 2001–2005. ONS.

14. Dunnell, K. (2007). The changing demographic picture of the UK: National Statistician's annual article on the population. Population Trends 130: 9–21.ONS

15. Coleman, D.(2004). Partner choice and the growth of ethnic minority populations. Bevolking en Gezin 33, 3: 7–34.

16. Rendall, M.S. and Ball, D.J. (2004). Immigration, emigration and the ageing of the overseas–born population in the United Kingdom. Population Trends 116: 18–27. ONS.

17. Coleman, D. (2007). The shape of things to come: world population to 2050. In Empire and the future world order, eds. Almqvist, K & Thomas, I., Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation, Sweden.

18. Eurostat (2006). Statistics in focus. 3/2006. Long–term population projections at national level. European Commission.

19. Eurostat (2009). EUROPOP2008 – Convergence scenario, national level. Explanatory Texts (metadata).

20. Eurostat (2008). News release 119/2008, 26th August 2008. European Commission.

21. Keyfitz, N. (1981). The limits of population forecasting. Population and Development Review 7, 4: 579–593.

22. Coleman, D. (2007). Demographic diversity and the ethnic consequences of immigration – key issues that the Commission's report left out. Vienna Yearbook of Population Research: 5–12.

23. Coleman, D. and Salt, J. (1992). The British Population. Patterns, trends, and processes. Oxford University Press.

24. Coleman, D. (2006). Immigration and ethnic change in low–fertility countries: a third demographic transition. Population and Development Review 32, 3: 401–446.

25. Lutz, W. (1994). Future fertility and mortality in industrialized countries. In The future population of the world. What can we assume today? International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Earthscan.

26. Parsons, J. (1998). Human population competition. A study of the pursuit of power through numbers. Edwin Mellen Press, Lampeter, Wales. More recently the fourth edition has been available as Population competition for security or attack. A study of the perilous pursuit of power through weight of numbers. Population Policy Press, Llantrisant, Pontyclun, RCT.

27. Massey, D.S. and Zenteno, R.M. (1999). The dynamics of mass migration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 96: 5328–5335.

28. Eurostat (2008). Statistics in focus. 72/2008. Ageing characterises the demographic perspectives of the European societies. European Commission.

29. Lutz, W. and Scherbov, S. (1999). First probabilistic population projections for the European Union. In: W. Lutz (ed). Compendium of Family Studies in Austria. Austrian Institute for Family Studies.

30. Coleman, D. A. (2001). Replacement migration, or why everyone is going to have to live in Korea: a fable for our times from the United Nations. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences (The Royal Society) volume 357 number 1420 (2002).

31. Coleman, D. (2008). New Europe, new diversity. Population Studies 62, 1: 113–120.

32. Coleman, D. and Scherbov, S. (2005). Immigration and ethnic change in low–fertility countries – towards a new demographic transition? Paper presented to the Population Association of America Annual Meeting, Philadelphia March 31st – April 2nd 2005, Session 98, 1st April.

 

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Acknowledgements

We thank EU Statistics UK at ONS for clarifying certain EU statistics information.

 

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Population Growth and Migration: the United Kingdom

This is the revised version of the United Kingdom section of the page that was posted up at the end of April 2010. Important statistical reports that appear after this date but before the next revision will be listed at the end of the Appendix; our News page provides some information from the reports.

KEY POINTS
 
  1. All aspects of population statistics in the United Kingdom are in an unsatisfactory state. Recent censuses were unsatisfactory. Immigration flow statistics are estimated on small voluntary samples of intended immigration and emigration, of incomplete coverage and high sampling error and the number of illegal immigrants is anyone's guess.
  2. The population of the UK is projected to rise from 61.4 million in 2008 to 70.9 million in 2031, an increase of 9.5 million — more than the present population size of London, the most populous UK city. But between 2008 and 2081, the population is projected to rise to 85.1 million, an increase from 2008 of 23.7 million — roughly three times the present London population size.
  3. The main driver of this population growth will be international migration.
  4. After many centuries of relatively stable population composition, in the recent half century a massive racial, ethnic and cultural transformation has got underway.
  5. The population continues to age, and the option of adequately maintaining or increasing the support for the elderly population by increased immigration is completely unrealistic. Keeping the support even at the 2000 level would require an unimaginably large number of immigrants.

 

The following two graphs and table get to the heart of the matter.

 

graph of population growth and migration

 

England and Wales. Estimated Total Fertility Rates (TFR's): country of birth of mother, 2001

United Kingdom 1.6 East Africa 1.6
India 2.3 Rest of Africa 2.0
Pakistan 4.7 Remainder of New Commonwealth 2.2
Bangladesh 3.9 Rest of the World 1.8
 

british: non-british migration

Sources. Graphs: Population: ONS (2009) Population Trends 138 Table 1.2. Migration: ONS (2009). International Migration Series MN, TIM Table 2.01a. Table: ONS (2008) Birth Statistics Series FM1 no.37 Table 9.5.

 

CONTENTS

1) Introduction
(click on any of the following sections to go directly to it)
2) Today's population: size, age structure and density
3) Population growth in the past
  a) The actual growth in numbers
  b) The causes of population growth: natural increase and net migration
  c) Effects of recent EU enlargement and the recession
4) Projections of future population growth and net immigration
5) Past population projections: net immigration as a driving force underestimated
6) The population in terms of nation of origin and ethnicity
  a) Today's population
  b) Growth of ethnic minority populations in the past
  c) Fertility of ethnic groups
  d) Relationship between migration and fertility of ethnic groups
  e) Age composition of ethnic groups
  f) Religion and Family Values of ethnic groups
  g) Past international migration of ethnic groups
  h) Projections of future population growth of ethnic groups
7)The ageing of the population
8) Changing population distribution within the UK: total population and ethnic groups
9) Acknowledgements
References

 


1) Introduction

The basic source of information here is the Office for National Statistics (ONS). See the Population and Migration section of the web site http://www.statistics.gov.uk The ONS produces press releases, brief summary reports, and more in depth regular publications such as Population Trends, the Series PP2 National Population Projections and the Series MN International Migration. Other important sources of information include the Government Actuary's Department (GAD) http://www.gad.gov.uk/ , the Home Office (HO) http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/ and Eurostat, European Commission http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/ .

In the following account, note that some records refer to Great Britain (GB), that is England, Scotland and Wales, others to the United Kingdom (UK), that is Great Britain together with Northern Ireland. Note however, that in terms of total numbers, the vast majority of people in the UK live in GB (see the following section).

Note also that ONS sometimes uses mid-year population estimates, sometimes end of year estimates. It is important to bear this in mind. For example, in Population Trends 123 (Spring 2006) and the article there on national population projections, there is a figure 1 which graphs total net migration over a period of years. Later in the same volume there is a table 7 that gives actual data on total net migration. If one plots the data in this table as a graph, the shape of the graph does not coincide exactly with the shape of the graph in figure 1, although the general trend of total net migration is the same. The reason for the discrepancy is that figure 1 uses mid-year population estimates, whilst table 7 uses end of year estimates.
To illustrate the differences that occur between between graphs based on the alternative sets of data, we show, in the Appendix, population projection graphs based on mid-year and end of year data.
Finally, population projections normally work in terms of mid-year data.

Note on the value of published information on population trends including migration.

“All aspects of population statistics in the United Kingdom are in an unsatisfactory state. Even the base population remains uncertain. Despite every effort, the last two censuses have turned out to be unsatisfactory. Even the 2001 census, designed to be infallible, has had to be revised twice and its incompatibilities with other sources patched up with statistical Polyfilla. With present systems the degree of error is unknowable but possibly large. Inappropriate questions are asked, and necessary ones ignored. Immigration flow statistics are estimated on small voluntary samples of intended immigration and emigration, of incomplete coverage and high sampling error. Immigrants' destinations around the country are based initially on their stated intentions on arrival, naturally subject to revision. With these systems we cannot know who is in the country, legally or illegally, when they arrived, where they are or if and when they left. The number of illegal immigrants is anyone's guess although the government has given an estimate of about half a million. Internal migration and local population estimates are based on obsolete and often wrong census counts, sample surveys inadequate for local authority use and indirect and partial estimates from changes in doctors' registrations. Current huge migration flows quickly render estimates out of date”. Professor David Coleman (2007) Memorandum to the House of Commons Treasury Committee December 2007.

“. ...THE CENSUS OF POPULATION. ----The last 20 years have been turbulent for population estimates for two reasons. First, society has become more mobile, less accessible and less willing to respond to surveys. And increases in international migration have created major problems in the enumeration of cities and in estimating the migration component of the annual roll-forward. Second, ONS made serious errors in census design and execution in 1991 and 2001, and on present plans will repeat the errors in 2011.---- There was a marked increase in non-response in 2001 in all types of area. A record 4 million people (71/2% of the population) were not entered on census forms. Even in the "best" local authorities (the unitary and county LAs with the lowest levels of non-response and together having 10% of the national population) the non-response rate was about 3%, compared with an average rate among all LAs in 1981 of under 1% ”. Mr. Philip Redfern (2007) Memorandum to the House of Commons Treasury Committee November 2007.

For those who would like to look further into the accuracy of population estimates in relation to recent censuses, a paper by Ludi Simpson could be consulted (“Fixing the population: from census to population estimate”. Environment and Planning A 2007, volume 39, pp. 1045-1057).

For the rest of this account of population trends in the UK, references in the body of the text are given in the form (Rx) and are detailed before the appendix at the end of the account in the references section.

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2) Today's population


The UK Population Today

Mid–Year Populations (thousands)
Year 2006 2007 2008
England 50,763 51,092 51,446
Wales 2,966 2,980 2,993
Scotland 5,117 5,144 5,169
Northern Ireland 1,742 1,759 1,775
United Kingdom 60,587 60,975 61,383

“The UK population grew by almost one and a half million between mid-2001 and mid-2006, and at the fastest rate of growth since the 1960” (R1). Why was it growing so fast? There are three reasons:

  1. Increased Life expectancy. In recent years mortality rates have been falling, life expectancy has been increasing (R1, R2).
  2. Increased Fertility. Total fertility rate (defined in the Global section of this page), rose steadily from 1.63 children per woman in 2001 to 1.86 in 2006 and then to 1.96 in 2008— the highest level since 1973 R3.
  3. Increased Net International Migration. In recent years both emigration and especially immigration have been exceptionally high, with the result that net immigration has increased significantly (R1).

Of these three causes of this rapid growth, Net International migration has been the main driver (R10).

Source for table data: ONS (2009) Population Trends 138 table 1.2

Illegal immigrant population
The population figures given above ignore illegal immigration, for the simple reason that no accurate figures are available for such immigration. However, the HO, in 2005, did finally produce an estimate of the total illegal migrant population in 2001 (R4). The components of this total population were 1) illegal entrants, 2) persons who exceeded their valid 'leave to remain' period, and 3) failed asylum seekers who did not comply with instructions to leave the UK. The HO gave a 'central' estimate of 430,000, within a range of 310,000 to 570,000. This same report gave an estimate of the total foreign-born population in the UK in April 2001 of 3.6 million.

An Ageing population
People are living longer, and at the same time, the number of children born has declined, so the population in ageing.
So while the total population grew by 8 per cent in the 35 years to mid-2006, — 55.9 million in 1971 to 60.6 million in mid–2006, this growth was not evenly distributed over all age groups. In this period of time, the population of people aged over 65 grew by 31 per cent — 7.4 million to 9.7 million. But the population aged under 16 declined by 19 per cent — from 14.2 to 11.5 million (R5). And in 2007, for the first time, the size of the population aged 65 and over came to exceed the size of the population under 16 (R6). Further, by 2008 the fastest growing age group was persons aged 85 and over.(R6).

Population density (all figures are population per sq. km).
According to the Council of Europe, figures for the beginning of 2005 showed the UK population density was 246, the fourth highest density in the then EU states (25 states), less than Malta (1274), (the Netherlands (393) and Belgium (341) slightly higher than Germany (231) and over twice the population density of France (110) . These figures should be contrasted with countries having very low population densities like Sweden (20) and Ireland (58) (R10) . But the density of the UK varied considerably between the constituent parts, with England having the highest density, 387 (nearly as high as the present Netherlands density), Wales having 142 and Scotland 65 (R7).

However, Mr. James Clappison, MP, tabled a question on population density in Parliament on the 7th of January 2008. The question was answered by the National Statistician's office on 18th February. The estimates for 2006 were, for the UK, 250 persons per sq km, and for England, 390 per sq km. And the principal projection gave the figure of 464 persons per sq km for England in 2031, a figure greatly exceeding the present population density of the Netherlands.

 

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3) Population growth in the past

(3a). The actual growth in numbers

Since around the middle of the 18th Century, the population of the UK has grown massively. The population growth rate increased, then it steadied, and later decreased, producing the S shaped curve in the graph below. During this whole period the population went through what is known as the 'demographic transition' — the transition from a largely rural agrarian society with high fertility and mortality rates, to a predominantly urban industrial society with low fertility and mortality rates. The demographic transition is described in the Global section of the current page.

 

 

Growth of the Population of the UK, and of England and Wales

Numbers (millions)
Year UK E & W   Year UK E & W
1711   6.0   1891 34.3 29.0
1731   6.1   1911 42.1 36.1
1751   6.5   1931 46 40.0
1771   7.2   1951 50.2 43.8
1791   8.3   1971 55.9 49.2
1811   10.2   1991 57.4 50.7
1831 17.8 13.9   2005 60.2 53.4
1851 22.3 17.9   2006 60.6 53.7
1871 27.4 22.7   2007 61.0 54.1
        2008 61.4 54.4
UK,and England and Wales population growth
Sources for table: 1) Tranter (1973) Population since the industrial revolution: the case of England and Wales. Croom Helm. 2) Central Statistics Office (1935). Annual Abstracts of Statistics 84. 3) ONS (2009). Population Trends 138 table 1.2. Source for graph: ONS (2009). Population Trends 138 table 1.2

 

3b). The causes of population growth — natural increase and migration

Population growth is generally primarily caused by natural increase, that is, the excess of births over deaths. But in any particular region, migration will cause population growth when the amount of immigration exceeds the amount of emigration. The following diagram summarises the causal components of population growth

natural change Population change, increase (growth) or decrease, depends on two things , first what is termed natural change and second, net migration. If births exceed deaths, then natural change is positive and we speak of natural increase. If gross immigration exceeds gross emigration, migration is positive, that is we have net immigration. In the UK, births do exceed deaths, and gross immigration does exceed gross emigration. Consequently the population of the UK is increasing for two reasons, natural increase and net immigration.

 

We look first at natural increase.

From around the middle of the 18th century to the present time, births have exceeded deaths, and this has been the principal cause of the the massive growth of the UK population (only very recently has net migration become the main cause of population growth, as we will see shortly). Over recent decades there has been a trend of decline in yearly deaths: people are living longer, in other words, life expectancy has increased (R6). The situation with births is quite different: yearly births, which had been declining, have shown a marked upswing, increasing each year since 2001(see the table and figure below(R8).

Two terms much used by demographers are the Total Fertility Rate (TFR)and the Replacement Fertility Rate(RFR).
The TFR is the number of children that would be born to a woman if current patterns of childbearing persisted throughout her childbearing years (usually considered to be ages 15 to 49). More technically, “the average number of live children that a woman would bear if the female population experienced the age–specific fertility rates of the calendar year in question throughout their childbearing life span” (R9). The Replacement Fertility Rate (RFR) is the fertility rate that will ensure that each woman will be replaced by one daughter in the next generation. It is roughly 2 because it is only women that add the males as well as the females to the population! But it is a little over 2 because, first, slightly fewer girls are born than boys, and second, some baby girls do not survive to reproduce.

The Box below shows that after the post–World War Two and 1960 baby booms, the fertility rate fell steadily to a level well below replacement level, then for a couple of decades remained fairly steady. Then it started another phase of rapid decline to an all time low around the turn of the century. Since then it has been steadily increasing, although it is still now below replacement level. We will look at the reasons for this increase later.

England and Wales. Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and Natural Change

TFR in Recent Decades
graph of births, deaths, TFR
Source: Hobcroft, J. (1996). Fertility in England and Wales: A fifty-year perspective. Population Studies 50: 485-524.
  

Natural Change & Total Fertility Rate (TFR)

Year Live Births Deaths TFR
1996 649,485 563,007 1.74
1997 643,095 558,052 1.73
1998 635,901 553,435 1.72
1999 621,872 553,532 1.70
2000 604,441 537,877 1.65
2001 594,634 532,498 1.63
2002 596,122 535,356 1.65
2003 621,469 539,151 1.73
2004 639,721 514,250 1.78
2005 645,835 512,993 1.79
2006 669,601 502,599 1.86
2007 690,013 504,052 1.92
2008 708,711 509,090 1.97
graph of births, deaths, TFR
Source: ONS (2007 and 2008). Birth Statistics Series FMI nos. 35 and 37, tables 1.3 and 1.4

We look, second, at migration

The most important source of information about international migration is the ONS periodical “International Migration Series MN”. This compiles data from three sources. First, the International Passenger Survey (IPS), a relatively small questionnaire based sample of persons entering and leaving the UK; second the Home Office data on asylum seekers and their dependants; third the Irish Central Statistics Office estimates of migration twixt the UK and the Irish republic. Migration estimates based on all three sources are referred to as Total International Migration (TIM). But some analyses are based only on the IPS, because of differences in the characteristics of these different sources.

In the UK, trends in international migration have changed greatly over the period 1965 to the present, the country changing from being a country of net emigration to a country of net immigration.

This period from 1965 can be divided into three parts (R10):

  1. 1975-1982. In most years the annual outflow was considerably greater than the annual inflow, so there was net emigration.
  2. 1983-1993. Inflows and outflows were roughly similar. There were small net inflows in most years but small net outflows in a few years.
  3. 1994 to recent times. There has been net immigration (inflows exceeding outflows) and this net immigration has shown an upward trend (until very recently).

The following box shows net migration from 1991 to 2008.

UK. Past Net International Migration (the balance between gross immigration and gross emigration)

Year Thousands Year Thousands
1991 44 2000 158
1992 -13 2001 171
1993 -1 2002 153
1994 77 2003 148
1995 76 2004 245
1996 55 2005 206
1997 48 2006 198
1998 140 2007 233
1999 163 2008 163
past net immigration
The red line is the linear trend line of the points on the blue line. Source of data: ONS (2009). TIM table 2.01a, 1991-2008

The graph shows clearly the marked upward trend in net immigration, which since 1997 has always been well over 100,000 (100 thousand) a year, which is a very large number. Indeed from 2004 to 2007 it varied between 198,000 and 245,000.

The dip in net migration 2007 to 2008 may be related to the economic downturn, a subject we return to in the following sub-section. But it must be noted that, as the above graph shows, net migration has fluctuated considerably over the period 1991 to 2007, with some changes between years as large as this 2007-2008 change. So this very recent fall may well be only temporary. And if one draws a regression line without the 2008 data, the slope is very little different from the slope of the line shown on the graph. Note also that the figures entirely ignore illegal immigration, for the simple reason that no accurate figures are available for such immigration (see previous section).

We now look at the components of this net migration, that is, inflows (immigration) and outflows (emigration) - see the box below.
The graph shows clearly how since the early1990s inflows have exceeded outflows, and that total (gross) immigration has increased faster than total emigration, producing the upward trend in net migration. Concerning the 2007-2008 dip in net migration, the graph suggests this was caused more by an increase in outflows rather than a dip in inflows.

UK. Past International Migration. Inflows, Outflows and Balance

Year Inflows Outflows Year Inflows Outflows
1991 329 285 2000 479 321
1992 268 281 2001 481 309
1993 266 266 2002 516 363
1994 315 238 2003 511 363
1995 312 236 2004 589 344
1996 318 264 2005 567 361
1997 327 279 2006 596 398
1998 391 251 2007 574 341
1999 454 291 2008 590 427
past net immigration and in and out flows
Source of data: Source of data: ONS (2009). TIM table 2.01a, 1991-2008

We now look at the components of flows in terms of nationality (graph below).

What stands out most from the next graph is the marked contrast between the two categories British and Non-British. The Non-British trends conform to the total international migration trends just described. In contrast, with the British Trends, outflows (emigration) have greatly exceeded inflows (immigration); so net migration was negative.The consequence of this difference between British and Non-British is that the composition of the UK population in terms of nationality is changing significantly , with the proportion of British decreasing. This is bringing with it massive change in the population in terms of race, ethnicity religion and culture.

Total recent UK Net International Migration together with its British and non–British components (thousands)

Data for alternate years
Year Total
Net Migration
Net
British
Net
Non-British
1992 -13 -62 49
1994 77 -16 94
1996 55 -62 116
1998 140 -22 162
2000 158 -62 220
2002 153 -88 241
2004 245 -107 352
2006 198 -124 322
2008 163 -87 251
components of recent net migration
Source: ONS (2009). Total International Migration TIM table 2.01a, 1991–2008

What about the fall in net immigration 2007 to 2008?
The following graph gives details of inflows and outflows. The fall in the net migration with the British seems to have occurred a year earlier than with the Non-British.
With the Non-British, the flows seem consistent consistent with the idea that the fall in net immigration was caused primarily by an increase in outflows rather than a decrease in inflows (we will return to the fall in net migration in the following, 3c subsection.

UK. British and Non–British Migration Flows

Recent Years (thousands)
British
  In Out Net
06 83 207 -124
07 74 171 -97
08 85 173 -87
Non–British
  In Out Net
06 513 192 322
07 500 169 330
08 505 255 251
British component Asian component
Source of data: Source of data: ONS (2009). TIM table 2.01a, 1991-2008

 

The relative importance of natural increase and international migration for UK population growth

Over the last 25 years, the contribution of natural increase to population growth, although varying, has been relatively constant. With international migration, the situation has been very different: “Between mid–1981 and mid–1986, the effect of net migration was to reduce the population slightly. This is in sharp contrast to recent years when net migration has been the predominant driver of population change. Between mid–2001 and mid–2006, net migration and other changes accounted for almost two–thirds of the 1.5 million growth in the UK population (not including the impact that net migration had upon the number of births in the UK)” (R1 p.15).

We now look at the bracketed bit of the above quotation, for international migration has indeed contributed to population growth not just directly (the net number of immigrants), but indirectly through its influence on the number of births, in two ways. First, immigrants have a younger age profile than the resident population, a larger proportion of the immigrant population belonging to the breeding age groups than that proportion in the resident population. Secondly, some major immigrant groups (first generation immigrants and descendants of earlier immigrants) originating from countries where fertility rates are much higher than the overall UK fertility rate, have a higher fertility rate than the resident population (R1, R 11).

Now recently there has been a rise in the number of births in England and Wales as we mentioned earlier, increasing by 19 per cent between 2001 and 2008. And over the same time period the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) rose rapidly from 1.63 children per woman to 1.97 children per women in 2008. So to what extent has immigration been the cause of these changes?

Any attempt to answer this question is hampered by lack of concrete statistical evidence – data that directly gives an answer is not available. Reliance has to be placed on some data that is available, from which an answer may be indirectly inferred, namely the estimated population of women of reproductive age by country of birth and the estimated total fertility rates (TFR) of UK born and foreign born women. But here the numbers of persons born in the UK will include second and third generation immigrants (born to earlier migrants). And a further complication arises from the fact that fertility of immigrant groups tends to decline over generations (first to second to third generation)(R8, R12).

A recently published study has attempted to analyse the various causes of the recent rises in number of births and of fertility rate in the UK from 2001 to 2007, and assess the contribution of migration to population growth apart from the direct effect.

In considering the contribution of UK born and non-UK born mothers to population changes it must of course be remembered that the UK born population is far larger than the non–UK born population. But bearing in mind the importance of this difference to any population changes, between 2001 and 2007, while the number of births to UK born women increased by only 6.4 per cent, the number of births to foreign born women increased by 65.0 per cent. The rise in births to UK born women was primarily caused by rising fertility rates among UK born women (and remember that a small percentage of these women will be of immigrant descent). While the rise in births to foreign born mothers was primarily caused by the increase in the population of women born outside the UK, “particularly at ages where fertility is highest”. The chief conclusion of the study was:
“Two–thirds of the rise in births since 2001 can be attributed to foreign born women. This is mainly a consequence of the increased size of the foreign born population in the UK. Yet since 2004 rising fertility rates among UK born women has been the largest single factor increasing the overall number of births. However, due to decreasing numbers of UK born women at the peak childbearing ages, births to UK born women have only risen by small amount” (R8).

Summer 2010. The following information was accidentally omitted during the April revision.
For the first time for nearly a decade, in 2008, natural increase contributed (slightly) more to population growth than net immigration.
(ONS. Population Trends 138, Winter 2009).

3c). Effects of recent European enlargement and the recession.

In the recent century, two things have disturbed UK long-term international migration trends. First the further enlargement of the European Union; second, the recession. We will deal with these in turn, but of course the two factors are intimately connected.

In May 2004 ten countries joined the European Union (EU). These were the so-called 'A8' countries together with Cyprus and Malta. The A8 countries are:

  • Czech republic
  • Estonia
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia

This enlargement of the EU led to massive inflows of immigrants to the UK from the A8 countries, and received considerable attention in the media. For example, the Sunday Times stated in 2006 that the influx from the A8 during the preceding two years had been estimated as 350,000 (Times Online May 14th 2006), and quoted Professor John Salt of University College London as saying “What we are seeing now...is something unprecedented”.

Recent figures on country of birth of UK residents for the year ending June 2009 shows that with non-UK countries of birth, while India tops the list, Poland comes second, Pakistan third. Before 2004 Poland would have been a minor a component of non-UK born residents. In terms of Non-British countries of nationality, Poland actually tops the list, followed by the Republic of Ireland and India.

Here is data on estimated migration flows to and from the UK:

A8 Countries. Migration to (inflow) and from (outflow) the UK

Migration flows (thousands)
Year Inflow Outflow Balance
2004 53 3 49
2005 76 15 61
2006 92 22 71
2007 112 25 87
2008 89 69 20
graph of the migration
Source of data: ONS (2009).Total International Migration TIM table 2.01a

We see that a change has taken place 2007 to 2008, net migration (positive, so net immigration) has decreased considerably, apparently driven by both a decrease in inflows and an even bigger increase of outflows.

Unfortunately the currently available series MN data (including TIM tables) , we use in the above graph and in the previous subsection 3b, stops short at 2008. So this source does not enable us to see how migration flows might have changed later in the recession.

Now in sub-section 3b we mentioned that one source component of the MN series migration data is the International Passenger Survey Questionnaire (IPS).This survey collects a variety of information from a sample of passengers entering or leaving the UK. However, the sample size relative to total inflows and outflows is very small. Further the Survey suffers from two other defects. First, it excludes some routes between the Irish Republic and the UK, and most asylum seekers and some dependents of same. Second, the estimates are based on respondents initial intentions. Stated intentions are not necessarily the real ones, and also may change after migration.
However, The IPS has one advantage over the total long-term international migration (LTIM) figures that we used in the previous sub-section. The former are published quarterly while the latter only twice a year. So at present, the most up to date published information comes from the the IPS.

So we now look at IPS data to clarify migration trends and especially the recent trends. Note this includes all migrants, not just A8 country migrants.The following graph shows the trend of net migration.

IPS Estimates of Long-term International Migration Year ending figures.

histogram of net migration
Source: ONS. International Passenger Survey (IPS) estimates of long–term international migration, rolling annual data to Q2 2009

 

IPS Estimates of Long-term International Migration Year ending figures.

histogram of immigration and emigration
Source: ONS. International Passenger Survey (IPS) estimates of long–term international migration, rolling annual data to Q2 2009

The first (net migration) graph confirms as you would expect, the fall in net migration from 2007 to 2009.

With the second (lower) graph above ( immigration and emigration), it appears that it is emigration that has changed the most in the last two years.

But in most recent times, it we take the year endings June 2008 and June 2009 there has in fact been little change with either immigration or emigration. With immigration to years ending 2008 and 2009 the figures are (thousands) 531,000 to 518,000. With emigration the corresponding figures are 363,000 to 371,000 (R13).

Now we look at data for A8 citizens (again IPS data). There we see more pronounced changes:

 

graph of net migration graph of immigration emigration

 

These results strongly suggest that net immigration of A8 citizens has been significantly reduced during the current economic downturn. Looking at inflows (gross immigration) and outflows (gross emigration), we see that both have played an important part, the former decreasing considerably, the latter increasing significantly, although both declined in parallel a little most recently. However, if we just consider the change between the year to June 2008 compared with the change to June 2009, we see a difference in significance between immigration and emigration. Immigration declined from 100,000 to 68,000, a decline of 32 per cent. In contrast, emigration rose only from 43,000 to 58,000, and this rise was not statistically significant.

The Workers Registration Scheme (WRS).

Another major source of information on migration flows is 'Worker Registration Scheme' (WRS) operated by the the Home Office (HO). Workers coming into the country from the A8 countries are required to register with this scheme. It must be noted that we cannot equate number of applicants to the WRS to the number of immigrants from the A8 countries. In the first place, workers who are self–employed are not required to register with the WRS. Second, “..there may also be other workers from the accession countries who for or one reason or another do not register and are thus also not included in these (WRS) figures” (R14. Is this rather vague statement referring to illegal immigrants? Third, the WRS data “...they give no clue to the duration of stay in the UK...” (R15).

The data shows that from May 1st 2004 to the end of June 2006 there were 447,000 applications — a massive number. The Polish contingent was by far the largest national contingent, making up 62% of the applicants (R16).

Now on the 24th February 2009, the ONS issued a News Release(R16). This stated that initial applications to the Workers Registration Scheme (WRS) fell in both 2007 and 2008 – Number of applicants: 2006, 235,000; 2007, 218,000; 2008, 165,000. The News Release also stated that “ there have been falls in National Insurance Number (NINo) applications by foreign nationals and in the number of initial applicants from the A8 EU Accession countries registering for the Worker Registration Scheme (WRS)”.

We now look at recent published evidence on applicants approved since the A8 countries joined the European Union, summarized in the following graph.

Total Approved Applicants from A8 countries, by quarter years.

Quarter Number Quarter Number
04,2 38,830 07,1 50,320
04,3 46,440 07,2 52,355
04,4 40,605 07,3 57,310
05,1 41,495 07,4 50,820
05,2 55,105 08,1 46,645
05,3 58,870 08,2 43,845
05,4 49,485 08,3 39,220
06,1 46,765 08,4 28,835
06,2 54,905 09,1 23,875
06,3 62,855 09,2 26,470
06,4 63,350 09,3 29,395
  09,4 26,650
applicants approved
Source: Home Office. Recent figures from Control of Immigration. Quarterly Statistical Summary, United Kingdom. October-December 2009. Earlier figures from Accession Monitoring Reports.

We see that the number of approved applicants fell gradually in 2008 and continued to fall in the first quarter of 2009, mirroring in general terms the economic downturn.

This general fall however, masks interesting differences between countries. Poland has contributed much more than any other A8 country to the total immigration flow to the UK. And in terms of approved applicants to the WRS scheme, applicants from Poland, latvia and Lithuania made up 80 per cent of these applications in 2009.

With Poland, the number of approved initial applicants fell from 103, 115 in 2008 to 54, 715 in 2009 - mirroring and largely causing the overall fall in applications. The situation was different for Latvia and Lithuania where approved applications increased from 2008 to 2009. For Latvia, applications rose from 6,980 in 2008 to 15, 385 in 2009, more than a doubling to reach a record high number. For Lithuania, applicants increased from 11,560 in 2008 to 14,720 in 2009 (R17).

 

This box added to the page 3rd of May then modified 4th May, in view of statements made during the election campaign that are either untrue and/or misleading. The first statement was that by the leader of the Liberal Party during the last televised debate between the leaders of the three main political parties. He asserted that “80 per cent of people coming into this country come from the European Union”. This is untrue. Then subsequently in a BBC 'reality check' the BBC's Home Editor made statements about 'immigrants' and 'workers', that could possibly leave the general public thinking that most immigrants came from inside the European Union (remember that not all immigrants are workers). Although he did say the Liberal Party leader's claim of 80 per cent was wrong – it was probably only 48 per cent, early on he said “for every eight immigrants arriving into Britain, only one is a worker from outside the EU”, and later he concluded "the Conservative cap would only apply to one in 8 immigrants" so, by implication, would be ineffective. To counter the falsehood of the first statement and the possibly misleading effect of the Home Editor's statements, data is here provided on the components of total migration. Since A8 country migration was dealt with above, data for the A8 countries is included (A8 numbers are included also in the European Union figures of course).

 
Comparison: British (B), European Union (EU), Old Commonwealth (OC), New Commonwealth (NC), Other (O), and A8 countries (A8)
 
    2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008       2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
 
B In 110 98 100 89 98 83 74 85   NC In 84 92 105 141 117 139 129 121
B Out 159 186 191 196 186 207 171 173   NC Out 19 16 17 19 23 24 26 31
B Net −48 −88 −91 −107 −88 −124 −97 −87   NC Net 65 77 88 122 94 115 103 91
EU In 58 61 66 130 152 170 195 198   O In 164 201 177 155 137 143 131 142
EU Out 51 54 51 43 56 66 69 134   O Out 49 64 62 52 59 60 43 55
EU Net 7 7 15 87 96 104 127 63   O Net 115 137 115 104 78 83 88 87
OC In 65 63 62 73 62 62 45 44   A8 In       53 76 92 112 89
OC Out 32 42 42 33 37 42 31 35   A8 Out       3 15 22 25 69
OC Net 33 21 20 40 25 20 13 9   A8 Net       49 61 71 87 20
 
Source of data: ONS (2009). TIM table 2.01a, 1991-2008
 
It can be seen that total immigration from the European Union, in each year, has been less than immigration from countries outside the European Union combined. With components of non-European Union immigration we see that New Commonwealth and 'Other' countries make the largest contributions, the Old Commonwealth countries a smaller contribution.

 

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4) Projections of future population growth and net immigration

A preliminary note on the nature of projections. One can never know exactly how many people there were in the UK in past years. But the population can be estimated. As far as future populations are concerned, it is possible to estimate what the population size will be (or the net migration will be) if we make any particular set of assumptions about natural increase (fertility and mortality) and migration. But one can make many such estimates, since one can make various alternative assumptions. Every second year a set of projections has been made by the Government Actuary's Department, and more recently by the National Statistics Centre for Demography within the Office of National Statistics: the Principal Projection and Variant Projections. The following account is based on the Principal Projection. A note on the variant projections will be found at the end.

Strictly speaking, a projection is a set of calculations which show how a population will develop when certain assumptions about the future course of fertility, mortality and migration are made. A forecast, on the other hand, is a projection in which assumptions are chosen which it is thought will yield a realistic picture of the probable future development of the population (R18). However, government will use projections in its planning, so the makers of projections “must accept the responsibility that (the projections) will be used as forecasts” (R19).

It is important to realize the limitations of medium term, and especially long term, population projections. As one demographer noted in 1981, we can think of useable forecasts for the next five to 20 years, but virtually no information at all on populations 100 years hence (R20).

The latest population projections. The following box summarises the latest (2008–based) principal projections for the UK as a whole and England.

2008–based projections

Population Projections 2008–based (thousands)
Year UK England Year UK England
2011 62,649 52,577 2051 77,073 65,940
2016 64,773 54,472 2056 78,414 67,260
2021 66,958 56,433 2061 79,697 68,532
2026 69,051 58,334 2066 80,986 69,808
2031 70,933 60,071 2071 82,341 71,140
2036 72,606 61,642 2076 83,748 72,517
2041 74,165 63,126 2081 85,141 73,884
2046 75,654 64,559      
projections 2008-based
Source . ONS (2010). Series PP2 no.27. 2008-based Population Projections, Appendix 1

The population of the UK is projected to rise from 61.4 million in 2008 to 70.9 million in 2031, an increase of 9.5 million — more than the present population size of London, the most populous UK city. But between 2008 and 2081, the population is projected to rise to 85.1 million, an increase from 2008 of 23.7 million — roughly three times the present London population size.
To put it another way, the UK population will increase by the present London population size, on average each 25 years. Such a population growth has serious implications for the loss of green land to housing and related infrastructure.

To what extent will this future population growth be caused by immigration rather than natural increase?

Now to examine the effects of migration in more detail using the latest, 2008-based projections ( R21, R22. See also R23). A according to these projections, the population of the UK will increase by 10.2 million between 2008 and 2033.Of this increase, 55 per cent (5.6 million) is projected to be caused by natural increase, 45 per cent (4.6 million) by net migration.

However, international migration will cause the population of the UK to increase even more than the net international immigration figure suggests. We discussed how migration has in recent times caused population growth more than just through the size of the net migration stream. And this will continue. The main point is that “because migration is concentrated at young adult ages, the assumed level of net migration affects the projected number of women of childbearing age and hence the projected number of births” (R22) . The consequence is that of the 5.6 million increase from natural increase, there would be only an increase of 3.3 million if net migration was zero. So a little more than two-thirds of the population increase to 2033 is projected, in fact, to be caused by migration - 45 per cent caused directly by future migration and 23 per cent caused by the effect of migration on population change. To sum up:

Net immigration, directly and indirectly is projected to cause 45% + 23% = 68% of future population growth, or roughly 70%.

Beyond 2033 the gap between births and deaths is likely to narrow, so that migration would consequently directly or indirectly cause a greater percentage of future population growth. However, there is much uncertainty about future levels of fertility and hence number of births. Overall, we can conclude that net migration (gross immigration minus gross emigration) will be the main cause of population growth in the future, as it is already, its share probably growing during the projection period.

Variant Projections and uncertainties about the future

The above analysis is based on the Principal Projection. But other projections, differing in their assumptions, would lead to different conclusions. Twelve variant projections were produced. Six of these (such as the High Migration graph below) are 'single component' variants, that is, they only vary from the Principal Projection in assumptions about one component (migration in the case of the High Migration graph). The other six are 'combination', variants that differ from the Principal projection in assumptions about more than one component (as with the High and Low Population variants below). The High and Low population variants give the the extreme upper and lower population sizes. The box below details four of the twelve projections.

UK. Principal and some variant Projections

Population Projections 2008–based (thousands)
Year Low Population Principal High Migration High Population
2011 62,380 62,649 62,805 62,919
2016 63,716 64,773 65,276 65,840
2021 65,007 66,958 67,848 68,944
2026 66,133 69,051 70,357 72,041
2031 66,959 70,933 72,666 75,016
2036 67,432 72,606 74,774 77,931
2041 67,617 74,165 76,782 80,932
2046 67,566 75,654 78,739 84,078
2051 67,327 77,073 80,644 87,319
2056 66,953 78,414 82,483 90,582
2061 66,505 79,697 84,265 93,852
2066 66,052 80,986 86,048 97,193
2071 65,611 82,341 87,890 100,697
2076 65,130 83,748 89,777 104,395
2081 64,576 85,141 91,641 108,231
principal and variant projections
Source for Variant Projections: ONS (2010). 2008-based Population Projections. Current Data Sets. Data Tables and Charts.

We see that even by 2031, the range of population size between the two extremes is very large (8,057 thousand). By 2081, the difference between high and low is enormous. This goes to emphasise the considerable uncertainties associated with longer-term projections.

We are inclined to think that the single most important factor that may cause actual variation of future population growth from the Principal Projection, is migration. We say this for two reasons.
First. We think that future global environmental degradation (one of the things ignored in preparing the projections), which is likely to be greatly enhanced by climate change,will probably cause massive waves of emigration from many poorer, 'developing' countries. These countries will probably have become much hotter and therefore much less able (or even unable) to produce food) and in some cases will have lost a significant portion of their land area through sea level rises. All this will be exacerbated by continued and massive population increase in some poorer countries. Further, rising food prices, caused by food shortages, are already causing conflict in many countries especially those that lie in the world's equatorial zone — see for example “The new face of hunger” (R24). While some of the increase in migration from poorer countries will be absorbed by other so–called developing countries, there is bound to be an overspill towards the developed world, and so to the European Union and the UK.

Our second reason is this. We think that in the present political climate, it is unlikely that governments in the richer, developed countries will take adequate measures to stem the flow of immigrants.

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5) Recent past projections: net immigration as a driving force underestimated

The Government Actuary's Department has made a new set of projections every two years (this task has now been taken over by the Office of National Statistics) and in this section we look at recent past projections. Before we do so, however, it is important to note the effect of the 2001 census on population estimates.

After the 2001 census, it was concluded that the total UK population in the middle of 2001 was 58,837 thousand, about 1,150,000 lower than estimated prior to the census (59,987 thousand). The main reason for this difference, ONS said, lay in the migration component of population growth. Net flow of migrants into the UK had previously been over-estimated. It is thought this arose primarily through under-estimating gross emigration. It was considered that this under-estimation was principally of men in the 20 to 39 year age group (over 900,000). The projection for future net inward migration to the UK will be revised downwards from 135,000 a year as it was previously projected, to 100,000 a year. And the contribution of net immigration to the total population growth to 2026 is revised downwards from about two thirds to the nearly 60 per cent mentioned earlier.

These conclusions sparked off considerable controversy (summarised in our Population Trends page before the July 2004 revision of the UK section of this page - item b) on our Archive page). The estimate for the 2001 population was subsequently revised upwards to 59,051 thousand, still considerably lower than the pre-census2001 estimate.

Projections before the 2001 census.

Two things stand out from the left-hand graph below.
First, all the projections have the population decreasing after reaching a peak somewhere in the 2020s to 2040s.
Second, with the exception of the 1994-based projection, each successive projection raised the peak population size. And if we ignore the 1992-based projection, each succeeding projection has 'upped' the population growth as the following table shows (population in thousands)

projection projected population
at 2021
when population
peaks
peak population
2000-based 64,105 2040 nearly 66,000
1998-based 63,642 2036 nearly 65,000
1996-based 62,244 2031 nearly 63,000
1994-based 61,130 2023 over 61,000

The main cause of the increases has been changes in migration assumptions to which we now turn.

First, again ignoring the 1992-based projection, the immigration component of population growth in the immediate future has been increased with each projection. Iin the 1994 projections it had been assumed that there would be a net inflow in the immediate following years of 50,000 persons a year. The 1996-based projections raised this to 65,000 per year. The 1998-based projections raised the level to 95,000 per year. The 2000-based projections raise the level to 135,000 people.

Second there was a change in assumptions between the 1994 and earlier projections on the one hand, and the later projections. In the former, it was assumed that after about 20 years, net immigration would gradually decrease to zero. With the three later projections, this assumption is abandoned - the projected net inflow (65,000, 95,000 and 135,000 respectively) is maintained for the whole projection period. What was the reason given by ONS for this constant level assumption? These appears to be merely that it is extremely difficult to predict changes in migration more than a few years ahead and that this assumption is normally made internationally ( for example, R25 page 19 left. See also R26.

These seem to us to be rather weak reasons. First, ONS makes projections for several decades later, so why not several decades for migration? If one has to choose a long term level, would it not be better to use the long term upward trend for guidance, rather than assuming net migration will soon settle to a constant annual level? Second, just because this assumption is normally made internationally, does not mean that the assumption is correct, or that UK circumstances are similar to circumstances in other countries.

Projections in the decade before the 2001 census had been based on the previous, 1991, census. The 2001 census provided a means to check the estimated then current (2001) population size. The Office of National Statistics concluded that the results of the 2001 census showed that the 2001 population size had been significantly over–estimated in past projections. The reason stated was that past net migration (balance of gross immigration and gross emigration) had been overestimated. It was initially concluded that this over-estimation of past net migration was caused by an underestimation of past gross emigration. Some revisions have subsequently been made. Census methodology and analysis of results came in for considerable criticism, which we recorded in the version of this page before our 2004 revision of same ( now archived as item (b) on the archive page). Readers might also like to read a recent and comprehensive review of census population estimates by Ludi Simpson of the Cathie Marsh Centre, Manchester University (R27).

Post 2001 Census population projections.

We now turn to the post 2001 census UK population estimates, namely the 2002–based, 2004–based projections, 2006-based and 2008-based projections. We showed the graph of the 2008-based projection in the previous section. In the right-hand graph below, we have not shown the 2008- based projection for the simple reason that at the scale this graph was drawn, the 2008-based projections is not distinguishable from the 2006-based projection.

How did the 2002–based projection compare to the pre–2001 census 2000–based projection? Not surprisingly in view of what we have just noted about the 2001 census, the 2002–based projection for early years was lower than those of the pre–census projection. For example, for the year 2006 we have (thousands) 2000–based: 60,946; 2002–based: 59,995.
However, by 2051, the 2002–based projection estimate was larger than the 2000–based: 2000–based: 65,354; 2002–based: 65,440. And the gap between the two estimates widened progressively after 2051.

When we look at the following two projections (2004–based and 2006–based), we find that each increases population growth above the previous projection:

 

UK Past Projections
older projections recent projections

 

With the 2004–based projection, the main reason for the increase was increase in assumptions about future migration, although in the long term a reduction in mortality assumptions becomes increasingly important. With the 2006–based projection, the increase was ascribed (in order of decreasing significance) to more births, more migrants and fewer deaths.

With the 2008-based projections, the main changes in assumptions concerns migration. "The main changes are a decrease in the long-term migration assumptions for England and consequently for the UK despite increases in the assumptions for Wales and Scotland". For the annual net flow from 2014-15 onwards, the 2006-based projections had 190,000; the new 2008-based projections has the figure 180,000 (R21) .

Now the recession might reduce net migration. However, to emphasize again our views: we emphasise that the 'push' factors for emigration from developing countries and conflict torn countries to developed countries that have been in operation for a long time, are now aggravated by continued environmental degradation, increasing wealth disparities between developed and many developing countries and continued massive population growth in developing countries where levels of real poverty remain high, and continued government inability to control illegal immigration, let alone get a decent estimate of the extent of same. Climate change is likely to render large areas of some poorer countries uninhabitable. All this suggests to us that net international migration may continue to increase for some years to come in the absence of government adopting firm immigration reduction measures (unlikely, we think)

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6). The population in terms of nation of origin and ethnicity.

It would be nice if there were available reliable and up–to–date statistics on birth, death, and migration trends for all ethnic groups over the last 50 years for the UK and constituent countries — there should be and could have been —but they are not. Nevertheless, the data that is available enables us to get a general picture of the present situation and how it has developed over the years.

6a). Today's population

An insight into population composition in terms of origins and ethnicity comes from data on the foreign born population:

Great Britain Foreign Born Population (15 years old +) around AD 2000

Region of Origin Numbers (thousands)
Africa (AF) 762.6
Asia (AS) 1,475.4
Latin America (LA) 324.1
North America (NA) 193.3
Oceania (OC) 156.8
EU15 1,183.1
EU A10 202.6
Other Europe (OE) 166.1
Unspecified (UN) 39.5
histogram of foreign born populations
Source of data used: Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) (2008)
“A profile of immigrant populations in the 21st Century”. Table 0.1. Copyright OECD.

What stands out most is the very large population of Asian and EU persons.

Iinformation on births to mothers who were born outside the UK gives an insight into immigrant flows. In 2006, 22 per cent of all births in England and Wales were to mothers born outside the UK. This is the highest proportion since registration of parents' country of birth at birth registration was introduced in 1969. Further, from 1969 to around 1990, the annual percentage was always roughly around 13 per cent. But about 1990 an upward trend developed. So the high value in 2006 has been reached in less than 20 years (R28). We return to this topic later

Ethnic group sizes.

The following histogram shows the estimated sizes of ethnic groups in England in 2007, using the 2001 census classification of ethnic groups.

England: Ethnic Group Numbers 2007 (thousands)

Group Number   Group Number
1 42,736   9 906
2 571   10 354
3 1,776   11 339
4 283   12 600
5 114   13 731
6 261   14 118
7 212   15 400
8 1,316   16 376
histogram of ethnic minority populations
1 White: British 5 Mixed: White and Black African 9 Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 13 Black or Black British: African
2 White: Irish 6 Mixed: White and Asian 10 Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 14 Black or Black British: Other Black
3 White: Other 7 Mixed: Other Mixed 11 Asian or Asian British: Other Asian 15 Chinese or Other Ethnic Group: Chinese
4 Mixed: White and Black Caribbean 8 Asian or Asian British: Indian 12 Black or Black British: Caribbean 16 Chinese or Other Ethnic Group: Other
Source: ONS (2009)..Population Estimates by Ethnic Group: 2001 to 2007. Table EE4.

We see then that, in decreasing size order, the largest minority groups are Other White, Indian, Pakistani, African, followed closely by Caribbean and Irish.

6b). Population growth of ethnic groups in the past

Coleman and Salt (R34) give us the long term picture. They note that before the 20th Century, “immigrants to Britain did not establish substantial ethnic minority populations”. There had before been immigration streams but “never on the scale of post-war Commonwealth immigration”. Further, almost all of those earlier immigration streams, apart form the Jews, came from other West European countries, countries that had “similar economies and demographic regimes”, and the people were racially indistinguishable from the host population. There were few barriers to assimilation.

All this changed in the middle of the 20th century, when large numbers of immigrants from Third World countries began to arrive. They differed sharply from earlier immigrants in colour, race, and (except for the West Indians) in language and religion. All this “was a break with the past". "Cultural differences, relative poverty and hostility" tended to keep these people apart.

And now, at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, we have a massive ethnic minority population (already about 8 per cent of the whole population in 2001), and in a few urban areas the ethnic minority population collectively outnumber the original native peoples.

Some indication of the ethnic composition of the UK population and how it is changing very recently is given by data on country of birth and nationality of residents. Information here is more up to date than data on ethnicity itself, so we begin with this information before going on to ethnicty.

Data for the year to June 2008 and to June 2009 may be summarised as follows.

Percentages of categories

Category Year to June 2008 Year to June 2009
UK born 89.3 88.7
British Nationals 93.3 92.9
Source: ONS. Statistical Bulletin. Migration Statistics Quarterly Report No. 4: February 2010.

These results suggest that the ethnic minority population has increased as a percentage of the total population from 2008 to 2009.

Now we turn to flows of immigrants from various countries and ethnicity estimates.

Great Britain

Since the second world war the transformation of the ethnic composition began with major influxes of people: first came West Indians (1950s), then Indians, then Pakistanis (1960s) later still people from Bangladesh. With the African population, communities were established in seaports in the late 1940s onwards, but substantial inflows came later partly resulting from political instability in Africa in the 1970s (R12, R30). It continued through further immigration, and the high fertility of some ethnic groups that we explore in sub–section 8c below. The consequence has been that “because of high fertility and continued immigration, New Commonwealth minority populations have increased rapidly from negligible numbers in 1945 to about 2.5 million in 1987... This represents an annual growth rate of about 5.2 per cent from 1971 to 1987” (R29 p. 501).

If we consider just the 1990s, the total population grew by 4 per cent.
But if population is disaggregated by ethnic group, it can be seen that 73 per cent of this total GB population growth came from the growth of the non–white populations. “The increase in the numbers of people from different ethnic backgrounds and countries is one of the most significant changes in Britain since the 1991 Census” (R31 p.2). We return to the subject of ethnic group immigration in sub–section 8b below.

England.
The majority of the ethnic minority population lives in England, and useful data, not available for the whole of the UK, is available for England for the period 1981 to 2007.

We first look at look at results from the work of P. Rees and colleague R32, R33). Here are some major conclusions from this work:

  • The total White population only grew a little. The % change 1981–1991: 0.4%, 1991–2001: 0.2%
  • In contrast, the total ethnic minority population almost doubled. The % change 1981–1991: 40.7%, 1991–2001: 39.1%.
  • All non-white ethnic minority groups grew 1981–2001 except the Black: Other group.
  • The Bangladeshi group grew the fastest 1981–2001, followed by the the Black: African group.

We now look at results from the 'experimental statistics' of the ONS. The following table tabulates basic data.

England: Estimated mid–year population numbers of ethnic groups (thousands)
Group 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
White: British 42925.8 42867.9 42805.1 42756.2 42752.3 42,737.7 42736.0
White: Irish 628.8 619.9 611.1 601.9 591.9 581.3 570.5
White: Other 1342.3 1396.6 1447.9 1514.1 1623.1 1699.1 1776.3
Mixed: White and Black Caribbean 234.4 242.1 250.0 258.1 266.3 274.5 282.9
Mixed: White and Black African 78.3 83.5 89.4 95.3 101.4 107.7 114.3
Mixed: White and Asian 187.2 197.6 208.7 219.9 233.1 246.4 260.9
Mixed: Other Mixed 154.3 162.5 171.3 180.5 190.6 200.9 212.0
Asian or Asian British: Indian 1045.6 1074.7 1109.1 1156.0 1215.2 1264.2 1316.0
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 720.0 742.1 764.0 795.1 826.4 861.0 905.7
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 281.5 291.6 302.1 313.1 324.5 338.3 353.9
Asian or Asian British: Other Asian 243.8 259.9 275.8 291.0 309.7 323.1 339.2
Black or Black British: Black Caribbean 569.8 574.5 581.0 586.5 590.1 594.7 599.7
Black or Black British: African 491.1 532.2 578.6 620.5 658.5 694.5 730.6
Black or Black British: Other Black 97.4 100.2 103.7 107.0 110.4 113.8 117.6
Chinese or Other Ethnic Group: Chinese 227.0 255.3 285.8 315.0 346.9 374.2 400.3
Chinese or Other Ethnic Group: Other 222.4 251.8 282.7 300.7 325.2 351.5 376.1
Total all Non–White British groups 6523.9 6784.5 7061.2 7354.7 7713.3 8025.2 8356.0
Total all Non–White groups 4552.8 4768.0 5002.2 5238.7 5498.3 5744.8 6009.2
ALL groups 49449.7 49652.3 49866.2 50110.7 50465.6 50762.9 51092.0

 

 
Source: REF. ONS (various dates). Population Estimates by Ethnic Group (Experimental) table EE1

 

What stands our most from the above table are:
1) There has been a significant decrease in size of the White: British population.
2) There has been a much more significant growth in the non–white and the non–White: British populations. Back in 2007 the National Statistician, Karen Dunnell pointed out about the situation then: “The latest experimental population estimates by ethnic group for England indicate that between mid–2001 and mid–2005 the population belonging to non–white ethnic groups increased by 945,000, accounting for almost 11 per cent of the English population in mid–2005” (R1 p. 14).
3) all non–White: British groups increased during the total period, with the exception of the White: Irish group that decreased like the White: British group.
4) With all groups that increased during the period, the increase took place throughout the period, that is, there was an upward trend with each group.
5) There were considerable differences between group growth rates 2001 to 2007. The three fastest growing groups were Chinese or Other Ethnic Group: Chinese (76.34% increase), Chinese or Other Ethnic Group: Other (69.11%) and Black or Black British: African (48.77%). In contrast, the Black or Black British: Black Caribbean was a mere 5.25% – by far the slowest growing group (the next slowest being Mixed: White and Black Caribbean 20.69%).

There is just one caveat about the above conclusions, and that concerns the White: Irish group, for there is considerable doubt about its size in 2001 (R30).

What is clear from the evidence given in this sub–section 6b, is that after many centuries during which the population was almost entirely White, and mainly White: British, a sudden and massive transformation of society is underway through the growth of ethnic minority populations.

To what extent is recent population growth due to natural increase and to what extent is it due to migration?

Data is available for England. In the table below minority ethnic groups are combined into main categories.

England. Components of growth, and average percentage annual growth rate 2001–2007

Group Total Growth Natural Growth Net Migration % Annual growth
All
people
1,642 689 934 0.5
White:
British
-190 181 -380 -0.1
Mixed
 
216 169 46 4.9
Asian
 
624 222 401 4.1
Black
 
290 97 191 3.8
Chinese
& Other
327 28 299 9.5
White British population growth components Asian population growth components
Source. ONS (2009). Population Estimates by Ethnic Group: 2001 to 2007 Commentary, table 2: Components of Change, England, 2001-2007.

Not surprisingly in view of the evidence presented above, the White: British group population is seen as declining through emigration. The two graphs illustrate the difference between this group and ethnic minority groups. It is also not surprising that with the Mixed group, growth was mainly caused by natural growth, because most mixing between whites and others occurred in England, not in other countries prior to emigration to England.

What is most interesting is the fact that with each of the three minority groups listed, Asian, Black, and Chinese and Other, net migration has been the principle cause of population growth.

6c. Fertility of ethnic groups

We give below estimates for England of total fertility rates 2003–2004 from R34 (see the appendix to this page for details of the method).

A word first about the black rectangles on the top of the columns. These increases in fertility rate derive from improvements in fertility estimation methodology (R34. Commentary).

We see that the fertility rates of all three white groups are way below the replacement level of roughly 2.1. The ethnic minority fertility rates vary considerably. Some have a fertility rate below replacement level, like the white groups. The lowest rate is for the Chinese group. Some have a fertility rate above replacement level, sometimes greatly in excess of that level. The highest rate was for the Pakistani group, closely followed by the Bangladeshi group. The Indian group is estimated to have a below replacement fertility level, although an earlier study suggested that this group had a fertility rate a little above replacement level (R35). This same earlier study also reported on attitudes to family size. The family size preferences of Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups were higher than the preferred family size of the long-term indigenous population (which were mainly the White: British group).

England. Estimated Fertility of Ethnic Groups 2003 and 2004

2004 data
Group TFR   Group TFR
1 1.74   9 2.53
2 1.69   10 2.45
3 1.66   11 2.10
4 1.93   12 1.77
5 2.13   13 2.26
6 1.62   14 1.72
7 1.68   15 1.42
8 1.62   16 1.67
1histogram
 
Colour Key. Original Estimates for 2003: red, green, purple, ochre, blue, grey. Increases for 2004: black
Ethnic group KEY

'ALL': All people
1: White: British
2: White: Irish
3: White: Other White
4: Mixed: White and Black Caribbean
5: Mixed: White and Black African
6: Mixed: White and Asian
7: Mixed: Other Mixed
8: Asian or Asian British: Indian

9: Asian or Asian British: Pakistani
10: Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi
11: Asian or Asian British: Other Asian
12: Black or Black British: Caribbean
13: Black or Black British: African
14: Black or Black British: Other Black
15:Chinese or other Ethnic Group: Chinese
16: Chinese or other Ethnic Group: Other
Ethnic Group
 
The ethnic classification is the one used in the 2001 Census
 

Data sources for the histogram. 2003 estimates: Large, P. and Ghosh, K. (2006). “Estimates of the population by ethnic group for areas within England”. Population Trends 124, ONS.
2004 estimates: Data kindly supplied to us by P. Large. All the data comes from 'experimental statistics' which have significant methodological limitations (see Appendix).
 

6d). Relationship between migration and fertility of ethnic groups

Some estimates are available on the fertility rates of residents by country of birth of mother for England and Wales:

England and Wales. Total fertility rates (TFR's): country of birth of mother, 2001

The Rates

United Kingdom (UK) 1.6
India (IND) 2.3
Pakistan (PAK) 4.7
Bangladesh (BAN) 3.9
East Africa (EAF) 1.6
Rest of Africa (RAF) 2.0
Remainder of New Commonwealth (RNC) 2.2
Rest of the World (RWD) 1.8
fertility rates
Source: ONS (2007) Birth Statistics Series FM1 no.36 table 9.5.

Country of birth does not correspond to ethnicity. The 'rest of the world' is a very mixed bag, ethnically speaking. And the UK born will include minority groups as well as the White: British group, although the vast majority of persons will belong to the White: British group. The other groups are ethnically more homogeneous. And the proportion of White: British in these other groups will be small or very small.

What stands out most from the above table and graph is that with the exception of the East African group, all the outside of UK groups have fertility rates higher than the group of mothers born in the UK, the Pakistan and Bangladesh born groups having by far the highest fertilities. And we saw (section 6c) that considering the whole ethnic group populations in England and Wales, as distinct from country of birth populations, it is the Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups that have the highest fertilities of all ethnic groups.

One might expect some correlation between these fertility differences in England and Wales, and the fertilities differences between countries of origin. If we look at fertility in countries of origin (table below), and consider India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the fertility rates in those countries in the period 2000 to 2005 were, respectively, 3.11, 3.99 and 3.22. All these rates are well above replacement level, and well above the rates of the corresponding total populations in England and Wales. But the order of these country of origin estimates is the same as the order of fertility rates in the above table, and the order of fertility rates in the total England and Wales populations, that is, India lowest, Bangladesh intermediate, and Pakistan highest. Note also that with the Pakistani and Bangladeshi populations, the fertility rates of the foreign born populations are much higher than the fertility rates in country of origin. Have conditions in England and Wales promoted an increase in fertility? Or is it that immigrants from these two countries are relatively young compared with country of origin total populations?

Fertility estimates
Group Total Group Fertility, 2004 Group fertility by Country of Birth of mother, 2001 Fertility in Country of Origin, 2000–2005
White: British, England and Wales(ew), or Total UK(uk) 1.74ew 1.6uk 1.7uk
Indian 1.62 2.3 3.11
Pakistani 2.53 4.7 3.99
Bangladeshi 2.45 3.9 3.22
Sources. Mr. Pete Large, ONS (total group fertility). Birth Statistics Series FM1 no.35 Table 9.5 (by country of birth). UN. World Population Prospects the 2006 revision (country of origin)

Another point that emerges from the above table is that the differences between country of origin fertilities and total UK group population fertilities are consistent with the hypothesis that the fertility rates of immigrant populations that have a much higher fertility than the host population, will gradually over generations decrease to that of the host population, so we look further into fertility decline over time.

Decline in fertility of ethnic groups.

The 2010 paper by D. Colman and S. Dubuc (R36) shows that the fertilty of all ethnic groups in the UK has declined since the 1970s, some to very low levels. But, fertility with the Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups (groups where around 90 per cent are Muslim), although still decreasing, remain substantially higher than the national level. Also, the delay in childbearing, while this seems to be taking place with all groups, “is less marked among Pakistani and Bangladeshi women”. In contrast to other minority groups, the fertility of Chinese women fell below the national average by the mid 1970s.

Considering only recent times, the following table shows estimates of the Total Fertility for Whites and the most populous ethnic minority groups together with the national average ('All')

Fertility change
Group 1996-2000 2001-2005
All 1.76 1.73
White 1.72 1.71
Indian 1.63 1.64
Pakistani 2.91 2.79
Bangladeshi 3.43 2.97
Black African 2.45 2.36
Black Caribbean 1.88 1.94
Chinese 1.35 1.24
Source. R.36 table 5.

What about the future? Coleman and Dubuc think that over time, fertility rates of ethnic groups presently having rates above the national average, will continue to decrease unless there is an increased flow of immigrants from the same country of origin.

Contribution of ethnic group fertilities to the recent rise in UK fertility.

In an earlier section (3b) we noted that the total UK fertility rate has risen sharply in recent years. So the question arises, to what extent may this be caused by higher fertility of some ethnic groups . A 2007 paper by the then National Statistician, Karen Dunnell (R1) provides relevant information including the following:

  • Between 2002 and 2006, in England and Wales, the estimated fertility rate for women born outside the UK rose from 2.3 to 2.5, but rose from 1.5 to 1.7 for UK born women.
  • 15 per cent of births in the UK in 2001 were to mothers born outside the UK, this percentage increasing to nearly 21 per cent in 2006.
  • In terms of different age groups, the fertility of women born outside the UK has increased more in the 25–29 and 30–34 age groups than it has for UK born women. But the small increase in fertility of women in the 20–24 age group seems to be accounted for by women born in the UK.
  • There is evidence that women born outside the UK have higher intended family sizes at each age than UK born women. And with the 30–34 age group 18 per cent of women born overseas intended to have four or more children, compared with 11 percent of UK born.

Dunnell concluded that international migration has impacted on the number of births in the UK in recent years. And “although it does not on its own explain the rise in the TFR for the UK over the past five years, analysis suggests that it has indeed contributed to this rise. The higher average fertility of women born overseas, especially in countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, is of particular relevance when considered alongside the relatively young adult age structure of the UK population of Asian ethnic origin”. The Press release on this publication (R37) stated the overall conclusion of the work quite simply as “Both UK born and non-UK born women have contributed to the consistent rise in fertility rates in the UK between 2001 and 2006”.

One final comment. What effect will the recent masssive immigration from Poland have on UK fertility rate? The Daily Mail newspaper, 2nd December 2006, suggested that the birth rate of Polish immigrants was greater than in many cities in Poland. If this is so, is it because Polish immigrants tend to be relatively young? We note that in Poland the fertility rate is well below replacement level.

6e). Age composition of ethnic group populations.

England. Percentage Age Composition of Ethnic groups, 2007

Females. 15–44 age groups as % of total number for group, mid–2007
Group %   Group %
1 38   9 53
2 28   10 55
3 59   11 54
4 46   12 47
5 46   13 59
6 45   14 53
7 47   15 65
8 54   16 64
histogram
 
Group Number Key. See previous sub-section.   Colour Key. Age Groups: yellow: 0–15; blue: 16–64/59; grey: 65/60+
The table is based on data in “Population estimates by ethnic group 2001–2007” Table “EE4: Estimated resident population by ethnic group, age and sex, mid–2007(experimental statistics)”. ONS. The histogram is based on data in “Population estimates by ethnic group 2001–2007” Table “EE2: Estimated resident population by ethnic group, age and sex, mid–2007 (experimental statistics)”. ONS.

Turning to age structure in 2007 (the histogram above) we look first at the young age groups (0–15 years). What stands out most is the relatively high percentage of the population in these age groups in all the Mixed ethnic groups. All the Asian groups have a higher proportion of their populations in these age groups compared with the White groups, the Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups a much higher proportion. We note that the Pakistani group has the second largest total population of the non-White groups, much larger than any of the Mixed groups, so its relatively young age structure has obvious implications for the future changes in the ethnic composition of England. Now it is worth noting that Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are predominantly Muslim peoples, and we see the significance of religion in the next sub-section.

With the working age groups (16-64/59), there is considerable variation between non–White ethnic groups. However, the Mixed groups all have a lower percentage than the White: British, while almost all of the other groups have a higher percentage, the Chinese and Other having the largest percentages.

Considering the older age groups (65/60+), the White: British has the largest percentage of its population in these groups than any other group apart from the White: Irish group. In terms of larger group categories (White, Mixed, Asian, Chinese and other) the Mixed group stands out as having the lowest percentage of its population in this age group.

Of particular interest for future changes in ethnic composition in England are the percentages in what we may term the 'breeding age groups'. For present purposes we will take these to include the 15–19 age group through to and including the 40–44 age group (table above for mid–2007). Just considering females (only females produce offspring!) we see that apart from the White: Irish group, all the other ethnic groups have a higher proportion of the population in the breeding age groups than the White: British, usually a much higher proportion.

A good way to conceptualize the variation of age structure between populations is to construct what are termed 'age pyramids'. We would prefer the term age profiles since the shapes of some 'pyramids' are decidedly not what one expects of a pyramid! The following diagram shows variation in age profiles. The vertical axis shows age and the horizontal axis shows the proportion of the population that is in each age category. Colour key for the age groups. Green: Pre–working age groups. Orange: working age groups. Grey: post–working age groups. Notice the left-right (make–female) profile asymmetry. This is because women tend to live longer than men.

young intermediate old
YOUNG. Each successive age group (from 0–4 to 85+ is smaller than the preceding age group. The working age group (shown in orange) has to provide for a comparatively large population of children. However children can help their parents in growing food, collecting firewood, etc. INTERMEDIATE. The age pyramid is dominated by the working age groups. Given appropriate conditions (low unemployment etc.) the working age population is potentially well able to support the old and the young. OLD. Now the pyramid is almost rectangular in shape. The working age population needs to support a large population of older people.
SOURCE: Our essay “the demographic dividend” accessed from the Analysis section of the Comment and Analysis page of our web site.

Actual age profiles of different ethnic groups have been prepared, apart from the 'mixed' and 'other' groups, whose populations are very heterogeneous (R25).
The Pakistani and Bangladeshi profiles are of the form of the 'young' profile on the left in the above diagram. The population that best approaches the 'old' population profile on the right is the White : British. The White: Irish profile has a peculiar shape, with a decided outward bulge for the age groups of about 20 to 80, with a maximum width for the age groups 50 to 70, so like the White: British, a greater proportion of the population is towards the apex of the profile. The other groups are more like the intermediate profile above, although each has its own distinctive shape.

Finally, what about the profiles of immigrant groups, that is, the first generation of the immigrants in Britain? Well: “Migrants have a younger age profile than the resident population, around a half of international migrants are aged between 25 and 44” (R10), so they fall within the working and breeding age groups. And the Home Office report on workers from the 10 countries that joined the EU since May 2004 states that the majority are young, between the ages of 18 and 34. But 94% of these workers stated that they had no dependants living with them (R38).

6f). Religion and Family Values of Ehnic groups.

A 2005 government article (R39) states:
“Families headed by a Muslim are more likely than other families to have children living with them. Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) had at least one dependent child in the family in 2001, compared with two fifths of Jewish (41 per cent) and Christian (40 per cent) families. Muslim families also had the largest number of children. Over a quarter (27 per cent) of Muslim families had three or more dependent children, compared with 14 per cent of Sikh, 8 per cent of Hindu, and 7 per cent of Christian families” (our bold text).

The article goes on the say that while the larger proportion of families with children and larger family sizes partly reflects the younger age structure of the Muslim population (see also R40), it may also reflect the intention of Muslims to have larger families (our bold text). Noting that many Muslims have a Pakistani or Bangladeshi background, the article says that these ethnic groups intend to have on average three children, while the White population intend two.

The 2006 ONS report “Focus on Ethnicity and Religion”, reiterates the idea that Muslims tend to have larger families, but it takes the analysis a step further. It notes that differences between religious groups are highly correlated with ethnicity. However, ethnicity does not explain fully the differences between religious groups. “Religion can exert a strong influence, sometimes being more important than ethnic group in determining household characteristics. For example, in all ethnic groups, Muslims tended to have larger average household sizes and a greater number of dependent children” (our bold text) (R39).

Now Eric Kaufmann of Birkbeck College, University of London has been studying secularisation in Europe (R41, R42 and personal communication). He notes that religious people tend to have a higher fertility than non-religious people, “consistently choose to have more children, regardless of education, income, nation, denomination or generation”. And in an analysis of data from ten west European countries for the period 1981–2004, Kaufmann found that next to age and marital status, it was a woman's 'religiosity' (it would be better we think to use the less judgemental term 'strength of religious affiliation') that was the strongest predictor of the number of offspring she produced, and he states that many other studies have reached the same conclusion. He also argues that immigrants into Europe tend to be more religious than the host population and he states that several other studies have drawn this conclusion. Moreover, there seems to be little or no decline in 'religiosity' between immigrants and their first and second generation descendants, especially with Muslims.

Intermarriage is often seen as an indicator of change in social and cultural difference from the host society, or a test of assimilation. Now an interesting article very relevant to retention of strength of religious feeling is that by Lucassen and Laarman (R43) who studied the propensity to intermarry of various migrant groups in Germany, France, England, Belgium and the Netherlands The authors found that religion appears to be an important variable. Migrants whose faith has no tradition in Western Europe intermarry at a much lower rate than those whose religious backgrounds correspond with those that are common in the country of settlement . And the rate of endogamous marriages in Western Europe are highest in Hindu and Muslim communities. Further, Muslims not only seldom marry non-Muslims but they usually do not marry across ethnic boundaries. The authors write of loss of people from Islam: Muslim women who marry a non-Muslim man are often seen as lost for the (patrilineal) family and thereby for Islam. From this perspective the children will take the religion of the non-Muslim father. This is different for Muslim men who marry a non-Muslim woman as men are not seen as lost for the family and faith and their children are expected to be Muslim. All this supports the hypothesis that Muslim communities in Western Europe retain a strong sense of religious affiliation.

However, Goldscheider (R44) argued that the retention of Muslim high fertility in some places in the Westen World is not caused by Islamic theology, but by the retention of traditional family values and segregated roles for men and women . But he also mentioned evidence from Asia that attendance at Islamic schoools associated with radical sects may lead to retardation of fertility decline. And we note the existence of Madrassas and Islamic schools in Britian that seem to have a radical approach to education.

Westoff and Frejka (R45) also find the retention of family values is strongly associated with fertility level. In a study of European groups, fertility had a strong positive linear association with pro-family values with four religions – Catholic, Protestant, Eastern orthodox and Muslim. But they also found that their family values index was higher for Muslim women than for non-Muslim women. Further, in a study of responses to questions, they also found “that Muslim women aged 18-44 consistently espouse traditional attitudes” (and of course, the 18-44 age groups are the main breeding age groups). Among the traditional attitudes concerned were the attitudes to family and to having children. “Muslim women were more likely than women of other religions to feel that the family is a very important institution”, and “ a woman has to have childen to be fulfulled”.

Returning to Kaufmann's findings, as far as the native Christian population is concerned, secularisation seems to be levelling out. Turning from the Christian population to the overall religious population, Kaufmann argues that there will be a growing religious population well before 2050. This will be through a virtual cessation of apostasy from religion among those born after 1945, Muslim immigration and retention between generations of their 'religiosity', the fertility difference between secular and religious populations, and finally, females are over–represented among those under 45 who remain religious.

6g. Past international migration of ethnic groups

Introduction

“Modest migration has always been a feature of Great Britain, but much of the ethnic and religious diversity of the current population is a result of large scale migration from the 1950s onwards. Early immigration waves included economic migrants from Ireland, the Caribbean and India, followed by migrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh, their wives and dependants. Since the 1980s migration from Africa and China has increased and has included students and asylum–seekers, as well as economic migrants” (R30 page 20).

Enlarging on this statement we note that migrants from Ireland have been coming to Britain for a long time, but this immigration increased in the 1930s to 1961, then increased again in the 1980s onwards. Until the 1950's there were few people in Great Britain from the Caribbean and South Asia. But in the 1950s this changed — there was mass immigration from these areas. The massive net Black Caribbean migration took place in the 1950s and 1960s and came to an end after 1974, but immigration from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh continued at a reduced rate. The peak flows of the countries involved came in the following order. First Black Caribbean migration, second, Indian migration, and finally, Pakistani and Bangladeshi migration. As regards the latter two nations, mass immigration from Pakistan occurred in the 1960s and continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s (driven by family reunion). Immigration from the region that is now Bangladesh began before the 1960s, but it increased after the Pakistan nation was formed in 1971 as a split–nation from Pakistan.
One more nation should be mentioned, namely, China. Migration from mainland China started in the late 19th century but increased from the 1980s onwards (with many people coming from China to study), and there has also been immigration from Hong Kong (R29, R30 R46).

Now of course we have recently had significant inflows from a new source, namely the European A8 countries. Most of these people belong to the White Ethnic Group. But net flows from the A8 countries are small in comparison with the total net flow to the UK, as we will see later.

Available data allows us to classify immigrants in a variety of ways, each giving us insight into the ethnic composition of immigration flows. One way that is very relevant to current concerns about cultural change is to divide immigrants into those from European nations (i.e. countries with a relatively similar cultural heritage) and non-European nations (that usually have a cultural heritage very different from the European). With this classification, and around the year 2000, nearly 66 per cent of immigrants to Britain were from non-European countries. This, bearing in mind the large size of immigrant flows, presages massive cultural change . Britain is not alone in Europe in experiencing this large inflow of non-Europeans. With the Netherlands it was 62 per cent, and with France, 59 per cent (R47).

Some data is now available for migration at the country of origin level. This data was obtained in the UK parliament by Mr. James Clappison MP (question tabled 7th January 2008, answered from the Office of the National Statistician 18th February 2008). Parliamentary questions and answers may be viewed by going to the Parliament web site (http://www.parliament.uk/) then browsing in Hansard).

The data was only from the main source of information on immigration, the International Passenger Survey, so does not include some categories of immigrants such as asylum seekers. Nevertheless, it suggests that national immigration flows have been changing over the years. Here we give information about the countries that contributed the most immigrants in each 2 year period.

Top 10 citizenships migrating to the UK
1997–98   1999–2000   2001–02   2003–04   2005–06
1 British   1 British   1 British   1 British   1 British
2 Australia   2 Australia   2 Australia   2 India   2 Poland
3 France   3 USA   3 China   3 China   3 India
4 USA   4 China   4 India    4 South Africa   4 Pakistan
5 Greece   5 France   5 South Africa   5 Australia   5 Australia
6 New Zealand   6 India   6 Philippines   6 Pakistan   6 China
7 Germany   7 South Africa   7 USA   7 France   7 South Africa
8 South Africa   8 New Zealand   8 Germany   8 USA   8 USA
9 India   9 Germany   9 France   9 Philippines   9 Germany
10 Malaysia   10 Pakistan   10 New Zealand   10 Poland   10 New Zealand

What stands out most from the trends across the whole recent period is the change from the situation where most immigrants came from countries with predominantly a white population, to the situation where there is a very significant contribution from countries that have a predominantly non-white population, certain Asian countries.But note. We are writing here about immigration, not net migration.

Also noteworthy at this stage is the new entry into the upper reaches of the top ten in the final two year period — Poland: A Times Online May 14th 2006 article quoted Professor David Coleman of Oxford University as saying “From one country in a very short space of time, it must be the largest influx we have ever seen” and quoted Professor John Salt of University College London as saying “What we are seeing now...is something unprecedented”.

Inflows and Outflows

Massive inflows from various countries do not translate directly to massive contributions to total population growth. To understand the latter, we must also look into out-migrtion by the same national or ethnic groups.

Duration of stay of immigrants. Do they usually stay permanently?

Rendall and Ball (R48) studied migration streams in the 1980s and 1990s. They found there was considerable complexity not only in the composition of migration streams in terms of nation of origin of immigrants and the date of their arrival, but also in the extent that immigrants remained in the UK. We focus here on short term immigration and nation of origin.

The report shows that short–term immigration is commoner for people from some countries than for others. A rough generalization is expressed by the reports authors in terms of wealth: short term immigration is more associated with higher–income countries than with low–income countries.

Immigrants from the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA have relatively high rates of subsequent emigration, over 50 per cent emigrating again within five years. These are the higher–income countries. In contrast, lower–income countries have a lower rate of subsequent emigration, well under twenty per cent for the Indian sub–continent. Rendall and Salt (R49) confirm the general difference between higher and lower–income countries. What Rendall and Ball's report does not draw our attention to however, is the long term consequences in terms of changing ethnic composition of our population. For instead of talking in terms of income, we can talk in terms of ethnic groups and re–phrase the authors conclusion: Return migration is commonest with people who originated in countries where White ethnic groups predominate, groups all of which have their cultural roots in Europe. In contrast, migrants from the Indian sub–continent have a greater tendency to stay in the UK, and they belong to non-White ethnic groups. These results have clear implications for the changing relative size in the UK of groups with a European heritage and groups with a non-European heritage.

Now a new report adds further support to these conclusions. The report states that while migrants from more developed countries tend to stay for shorter periods, migrants from poorer countries tend to stay for longer periods or settle permanently. (R50).

Now it seems as if migration between the UK and Poland may conform to this generalisation..

More information on the question of permanence of stay coms from a standard official classification of citizenship used in migration statistics: British, European Union (recently also divided into EU 15 and EUA8), Old Commonwealth, New Commonwealth and 'Other Foreign'. The following graphs summarise the situation for main categories for 2006, 2007, and 2008 (the latest year for which figures are available). As an illustration of the figures used we give the data for 2008 below the graphs.

Net International Migration. Citizenship (numbers are thousands). 2006, 2007, 2008

international migration graph international migration graph international migration graph
international migration graph international migration graph Key: I, gross inflow. O, gross outflow. B, balance (net migration).  Blue, 2006. Pink, 2007. Brown 2008.
UK: Migrant flows, in terms of citizenship (thousands). Data for 2008
  British European Union Old Commonwealth New Commonwealth Other foreign
Inflow 85 198 44 121 142
Outflow 173 134 35 31 55
Balance 87 63 9 91 87
Source: ONS, Series MN, Long-term International Migration. Table 2.01a LTIM citizenship 1991-2008

 

There is considerable variation in the shape of these drawings. The British shape differs from all the others because emigration greatly exceeds immigration, as we saw earlier.
There is a marked contrast between New and Old Commonwealth, with relatively small outflows for the New Commonwealth compared with the Old Commonwealth. This difference supports the conclusions reached above duration of stay.
Notice here also the difference of scale. Net immigration for the New Commonwealth is around 90 thousand, while net immigration with the Old Commonwealth is around 20 thousand.

The EU shows much variation between recent years. But for 2006 and 2007 (and also for 2004 and 2005 that we showed in the version of the UK Population Trends before the current revision) the shape, surprisingly, is similar to that of the New Commonwealth, although the ratio of inflows divided by outflows is much smaller for the EU than for the New Commonwealth. The image for 2008 resembles the image for the Old Commonwealth

The duration of stay of immigrants affects the age structure of the foreign-born population, affects the old–age dependency ratio, that is the the ratio of people of pensionable age to people of working age. Immigrants are usually relatively young when they arrive. So a consequence of shorter length of stay is the greater youth of the foreign born population. “To have an older immigrant population requires both that immigrants settle and that they arrived a relatively long time ago” . The lowest old–age dependency ratios occur with groups characterised with shorter patterns of stay (Oceania and to a lesser extent North America), and groups where immigration has been more recent (most notably Africa but also the Far East).This relationship between duration of stay and the degree of youthfullness of the foreign born population is clearly relevant to fertility differences between ethnic groups (R49).

Data is available to allow a comparison of migration trends of British versus non-British persons, a comparison we also looked into earlier (section 3b) where we saw that net migration since 2001 has two contrasting components the British and non-British. Now in the following we extend the time period backwards to 1993.

 
UK: Net migrant flows, British and Non–British, 1993–2008(thousands)
Year 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
British –62 –16 –51 –62 –59 –22 –24 –62
Non–British +62 +94 +127 +116 +107 +162 +187 +220
All citizenships –1 +77 +76 +55 +48 +140 +163 +158
Year 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
British –48 –88 –91 –107 –88 –124 –97 -87
Non–British +220 +241 +239 +352 +294 +322 +330 +251
All citizenships +171 +153 +148 +245 +206 +198 +233 +163
Source: ONS (2009). Total International Migration TIM table 2.01a, 1991–2008

There has been a net outflow of British citizens, and a net inflow of non-British citizens throughout the period from 1993 onwards. But there has been a net gain of population through migration throughout this period (except for 1993): The flows of both groups have generally been substantial, but the flows for non-British have greatly exceeded the British flows. Note that the figures show a trend of increasing net immigration of non-British until very recently when there has been a fall, but not as far as the figures for the 1990s.

Actually the net inflow of non-British and net outflow of British citizens did not begin in the early 1990s. There was in fact a net inflow of non-British citizens in every year from 1981 onwards. With British citizens there was a net outflow in every year in the 1980s except for 1985 (R51). In both 1991 and 1992 there were net outflows of British and net inflows of non-British (TIM tables). So the net outflow of British and the net inflow of non-British citizens has been a feature of UK population change for a long time.

All this suggests that in terms of actual ethnic groups (as defined for the census), there has been a massive net outflow from the largest ethnic category, namely the White: British and a large net inflow of ethnic minority persons, but the data just reviewed does not allow us to go further in terms of ethnicity

Finally, we now have an estimate of net migration of foreign groups over the last one and a half decades:

 
FIGURE 2
Scale and composition of foreign net immigration to the UK by nationality,
1991-2006 (thousands and %)
 
fig.2 from chapter 2 of the economic impact of immigration
 
EU15: the fifteen EU member states before EU enlargement in 2004
A8: the eight East European countries that joined the EU in 2004
Old Commonwealth (Old CW): Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
New Commonwealth (New CW): all other Commonwealth countries
Source: ONS, Total International Migration (TIM) tables, 1991-2006
 

This figure comes from House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs (2008) “The economic impact of immigration. Volume 1: Report” HL Paper 82–1 .

Now In the media, including the BBC, in recent times, all the emphasis has been on the massive immigration from A8 countries, especially from Poland , since the recent EU enlargement. Rarely, if ever in some media, is the size of the 'Other' and New Commonwealth (NC) categories immigration mentioned. But we see from the above table that the net inflows of both 'Other' and NC migrants greatly exceeds the net inflows of the A8 countries. What is more, the net inflow of the NC group has increased in recent years.

In one sense the numerical disparity of net immigration between the A8 and the New Commonwealth groups of nations should come as no surprise, when we recall that there has been a massive outflow again of Polish immigrants to Britain (section 3c) and it is people from poor countries who, having come to Britain, tend to stay here (section 6f).

 

6h). Projections of future population growth of ethnic minority populations

The information given so far in section 6 provides clear indications about how the size and composition of the ethnic minority population of the UK is likely to change in the future. Some salient facts are:

  1. For a long time there has been a considerable net emigration of White: British people.
  2. The total ethnic minority population of the UK has grown massively since the middle of the last century.
  3. Immigrants tend to be relatively young
  4. Fertility varies between ethnic groups within the UK. In the UK population, fertility is low and below replacement level with the White: British, White: Irish and Indian groups. It is above replacement level for the Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black or Black British: African and two of the mixed group population groups. While fertility in ethnic minority groups has fallen towards the low level of the White groups, it has still remained substantially higher with the Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups.
  5. The estimated fertility rate of women born outside the UK was much higher than that of UK born women, being especially high in Pakistani and Bangladeshi born groups.
  6. Religious people tend to have more children than non-religious people and the rapidly growing Muslim population is very religious.
  7. Retention of traditional family values seems to retard the fertility decline amongst Muslim women.
  8. The length of time that immigrants stay in the UK varies between ethnic groups. In general, immigrants from developed countries tend to stay for a shorter time than immigrants from poor countries. In terms of ethnic classification, Whites tend to stay shorter times than persons from Africa and the Indian subcontinent, although the situation with whites from the former EU nations is unclear at the present time.

We now give details of two recent projections of the size and composition of the ethnic minority population. The first looks at the period 2001–2051, the second at the shorter period 2001–2020.

Ethnic population Projections, England and Wales

Numbers (millions) and percentages
Group 2001 2051
Whole population 52.0 63.1
White British & Irish 46.1 (88.7%) 40.3 (63.9%)
White non-British 1.4 (2.7%) 7.3 (11.6%)
Non-White ethnic minorities 4.5 (8.7%) 15.5 (24.5%)
future change in ethnic composition
Source. Data in: Coleman, D. (2006). Migration and ethnic change in low-fertility countries: a third demographic transition.
Population and Development Review 32 (3) 401-446.
Coleman states the assumptions he made as follows:
1) Mortality is assumed to be the same in all groups.
2)The aggregate trend of ethnic minority fertility is assumed to decline from the present 2.14 to 1.9, slightly higher than the projected national overall total (1.75).
3) Fertility of the white population (immigrant and native) is assumed to increase from 1.64 to 1.74.
4 Net annual inflow of the non-white population is assumed to be a constant 108,000, and for the British and Irish population, -53,000 (minus 53,000). A variable level of immigration is assumed for the white non-British population.

 

Ethnic Population Projections, UK

     
    RESULTS:    How    much    is     each     group
  projected     to   change    from     2001   to   2020?
 
     
 
Ethnic group, all
ages
UK population
2001 Census
% Change 2001-
2010
% Change 2010-
2020
White 54118 +2 +2
Mixed 674 +41 +30
Asian 2336 +25 +19
Black 1148 +22 +14
Chinese and Other 471 +68 +28
Sum of groups 58747 +4 +4
 
     
     The mixed group grows fastest. Other groups are growing at a
  slower rate than they did in the 1981–91 and 1991–2001 periods.
 
     
Source: Rees, P. (2007). “Ethnic Population Projections: Review and Illustrations of Issues”. Paper presented at the Workshop on Monitoring Population Change with an Ethnic Group Dimension at the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research, Manchester University, 18th May 2007.
Table reproduced by kind permission of Professor Rees.
Rees states the assumptions he made as follows:
1) Constant fertility rates from 2001. 2) Mortality rates declining at 2%/year. 3) Migration model 1- see below. 4) Constant intensities and flows. 5) Plenty of scope for improvement and different scenarios.
Technical explanation, kindly supplied to us by Professor Rees:
(1) Migration model 1: this is one combination of choices made in handling migration in the model:
 a. Internal out-migration is projected by multiplying the population by a rate of internal out-migration.
 b. Emigration is projected by multiplying the population by a rate of emigration.
 c. Internal in-migration is projected by assuming a flow (count) of in-migrants.
 d. Immigration is projected by assuming a flow (count) of immigrants.
 Internal = within the UK
 External = outside the UK.
(2) Intensities is a generic term that includes demographic (occurrence-exposure) rates and demographic probabilities. For some components rates are used (e.g. fertility), for other components probabilities are used (e.g. mortality). NB. This study was concerned with ethnic group distribution within the country as well as with change in country level ethnic group size.
More information on the migration model may be found in Rees, P. & Parsons, J. (2006). “Socio–demographic scenarios for children to 2020”. Report to Joseph Rowntree Foundation Child Poverty Programme.

 

The paper by Rees provides a stark contrast between the futures of the White and the non-White ethnic minority populations of the UK during the period 2001–2020. Rees states:
While “the White population grows a little”, “the ethnic minority population grows very substantially because of demographic momentum and high immigration”
(R52).

Finally, Coleman in the paper from which we have given projection details above, presents details of population projections for a number of other countries and shows how a projected massive increase in the proportion of foreign born persons is not confined to England and Wales. It is found with other low-fertility countries in the developed western world. He thinks this might merit being described as a 'third demographic transition'. But the changes in these countries and the changes in the developing world will be asymmetrical : “the composition of the population of the developed world will come to resemble more that of the developing world, but not conversely”.

And his final conclusion for western countries is that “without restraint from policy, or spontaneous moderation of trend, the process is likely soon to become irreversible in some countries. In ignoring its long-term consequences the countries of the West are facilitating a radical transformation of the composition of their societies and the cessation of a specific heritage: a transition by default, through embarrassment at discussing difficult issues or in a fit of absence of mind. Democratic approval might have been thought necessary for so notable and permanent a change, the prospect of which would have been dismissed as absurd just a few decades ago” (R47) .

 

Doubts about how things will change in the future.

We think that the two issues over which there is serious doubt about how things will change in the future are fertility rate change and the extent of net immigration.

Changes in fertility rate.
Immigration by persons from high fertility ethnic groups will obviously help to further the growth of the UK population. But what happens to the fertility of these groups in the second, third and beyond offspring generations? We have seen how the fertilities of high fertility ethnic minority groups have been converging to the fertility of the host population.. However, while there may be convergence, there are features of society in the countries of origin which, carried over into the UK, may at least slow convergence for particular groups. In sub-section 6e we wrote about the importance of retention of 'family values'. And in the 1992 book by Coleman and Salt (R29) we read (pages 512-5130):
“the limited role outside the home prescribed for women by Islam may sustain higher than average fertility under most economic circumstances” Also “Asian extended family arrangements and the prevalence of family enterprises may make high fertility seem less disadvantageous than among West Indians”. And Coleman in his 2006 paper notes “But fertility differences may persist if immigrant groups do not achieve socioeconomic equality, if they retain strong attachment to religious or other elements of foreign culture, and if they continue to be numerically and culturally reinforced by large-scale migration, especially through importing unacculturated spouses from high-fertility countries” (R42).

As far as religion is concerned, we noted in section 6e above how Eric Kaufmann found that next to age and marital status, it was a woman's 'religiosity' that was the strongest predictor of the number of offspring she produced, and immigrants into Europe tend to be more religious than the host population. Moreover, there seems to be little or no decline in 'religiosity' between immigrants and their first and second generation descendants, especially with Muslims. In a recent study he found evidence that religious population growth is outpacing religious apostasy in Europe. “Meanwhile, religious women continue to maintain a 10–15 percent fertility advantage over nonreligious women (even with controls for age, class, education and income). With secularism stalled, religious demography takes over – even in the west European heartland, and our projections suggest that these countries will be more religious in 2100 than they are today”. However, any suggested trajectories of religious observance, fertility and the relationship between these variables are not set in stone; there remain considerable uncertainties as to how things will develop in future (R42).

Then we have the possibility of population competition between ethnic groups, and more specifically, competitive breeding - the situation where, unconsciously or consciously, an ethnic group promotes its own breeding. Parsons in his monumental book on population competition (R53 page 281) gave an example from the former Yugoslavia based on work by Kapor-Stanulovic):
“...Yugoslavia was the most heterogeneous country in Europe and population competition and competitive breeding were well launched before the series of civil wars erupted and it broke up......This seemed to be operating especially powerfully in the province of Kosovo in the south (neighbouring Albania) where the proportion of ethnic Albanians is expanding rapidly because of their substantially greater birthrate. In 1989 the total fertility rate here was 4.12 (compared with 1.74 in Croatia)....The ethnic Albanians demanded more power in accordance with their numbers...”.

Now there is no doubt that amongst Muslim groups in the UK there are sizeable numbers of activists who see their mission to be that of jihad, of conquering the country for Islam (jihad in its 'external' aspect rather than the 'internal' aspect, the daily inner struggle to be a better person). And there can equally be no doubt that many Muslims have felt threatened by or discriminated against not only by Whites but by non-Muslim ethnic minority groups. This is just the sort of situation where competitive breeding might develop. And we note that Coleman and Salt (R29 page 513) wrote: “ Where minorities feel threatened by absorption or assimilation, a 'minority effect' may make acceptance of family planning difficult and retard convergence in fertility”. And in his 2006 paper we have referred to earlier, he writes: “Increased inflows of unacculturated populations may conserve or even drive up fertility rates, as among African populations in Sweden and Britain” (R47 page 410).

Net Immigration
The magnitude and composition of the future net immigration flows to the UK will depend on two factors. First, the balance of the 'push' and 'pull' factors experienced by potential immigrants; second, the extent and way that the UK government controls the country's borders.

'Push and Pull' factors (previously discussed in section 4).
Poverty and insecurity in the developing world are factors that stimulate emigration to the developed world. With global food supplies shrinking, continued population growth and loss of agricultural land through global warming (rise in sea levels inundating vast areas of land and alteration of rainfall patterns) are likely to increase poverty and increase insecurity through conflict over scarce resources. This will strengthen the 'push' factor.
On the other hand, deterioration of the economic situation in the developed world, of which the present financial crisis may be an indicator, may make developed countries much less attractive as a destination to people in the developing world.
As for migration within the EU, if the economic conditions in the A8 accession countries to improve significantly, this is likely to both reduce immigration to the UK and stimulate return migration of Polish citizens and other A8 country citizens.

Government control of borders.
It is clear that the government has not had, and does not have proper control over the UK borders. The vast, but actually unknown numbers of illegal immigrants is clear evidence of this as is the muddle over deporting failed asylum seekers and criminals, this made worse by decisions in the law courts, which, at almost every end and turn, seem to frustrate even the government's very modest attempts at gaining control. And then there is the problem of EU regulations, especially human rights, that militate against the government taking firm control of the UK borders, even if it wanted to (and we suspect it doesn't). And finally, there is the fact that the left-wing liberal elite and the Christian Church seem bent upon putting the interests of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants above those of British citizens.

Further enlargement of the European Union.

If Turkey joins the EU, which even our Head of State seems to support, we are likely to see a significant increase of movement of people between the UK and Turkey. To what extent this will turn out to be net immigration to the UK is difficult to predict. It will partly at least depend on the relative strength of the economies of the two countries when and if Turkey joins the EU.

Conclusion
All in all, the factors just reviewed mean it is impossible to predict with any degree of accuracy how fertility and migration changes will affect the growth not only of the whole UK population, but of the ethnic minority groups. We think that, on balance, present high fertility in some ethnic groups may only reduce very slowly, and that significant net immigration to the UK is likely to continue for some years at least.

Finally, it is worth noting a general point about immigration and fertility rates that Professor David Coleman drew attention to, and which we can apply to the ethnic minority populations of the UK:
In the long term, the minority will become the majority in a country if there remains even one region in which the proportion of the minority continues to increase through immigration and/or higher birth rates (Steinmann & Jager 1997)” (R54). And again in a 2008 paper “ Any country with sub-replacement fertility and with constant levels of immigration must eventually acquire a population of predominantly, eventually entirely, immigrant origin” (R55).

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7) The ageing of the population and associated problems

People are living longer, and at the same time, the number of children born has declined, so the population in ageing.
While the total population grew by 8 per cent in 35 years — 55.9 million in 1971 to 60.6 million in mid–2006, this growth was not evenly distributed over all age groups. In this period of time, the population of people aged over 65 grew by 31 per cent — 7.4 million to 9.7 million. But the population aged under 16 declined by 19 per cent — from 14.2 to 11.5 million (R5). And in 2007, for the first time, the size of the population aged 65 and over came to exceed the size of the population under 16 (R6). Further, by 2008 the fastest growing age group was persons aged 85 and over. The ageing of the population is projected to continue (note in the right hand table below it is the median age, not the mean age that is shown):

Percentage of the Population aged 65 and over
Year 1992 2002 2012 2022 2031
Percentage 15.8 15.9 17.2 19.4 22.2
Source. ONS. Ageing in the UK. Data Sets Table 8.
   
Median Age
2008 2011 2016 2021 2026 2031 2033
39.3 39.8 40.1 40.3 40.9 41.8 42.2
Source: ONS (2009). National Population Projections, 2008-based.

One way to represent the age structure of a population is to use 'dependency ratios'. One form of dependency ratio is the number of dependants per 1,000 persons of working age. The following histogram shows the under 16 age groups , and the older persons (pensionable age) groups ratios:

 

Dependency Ratios
histogram
Source: ONS (2009). National Population Projections, 2008-based.

We see that the Pensionable age ratio is projected to rise considerably in decades to come.

Now the ageing of the population has raised concerns about how to provide for the needs of older people. So the question is raised — can we maintain or increase the relative size of the working age population – the backbone of economic activity – and hence the support for older people (the pensionable population). Of course, the working age population has not only to support the old age population; it has also to support young people.

One way to increase the working age population that has been much discussed in recent years is to maintain or increase immigration flows, because immigrants are more concentrated in the working age groups than the population as a whole.

However, we need to be careful not to exaggerate the significance of migration flows to maintaining support for the aged. For immigrants are not very much younger on average than the populations they are moving into – roughly ten years on average (R.54). Furthermore, immigrants themselves age, adding to the problem of an increased old-age population.

In fact to keep the potential support ratio even at the 2000 level level would require an unimaginably large number of immigrants. The UN estimated this as 524 million ( or 13 million a year) — far, far larger annual levels of net migration than has ever been experienced in recent times or the more distant past (R54, R56, R57). See also our essay “What policy should the UK Government adopt towards immigration?” which is attached to our Comment and Analysis page.

So significantly encouraging increased support for the ageing population by increasing immigration flows is not a viable option.

 

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8) The changing population distribution within the UK

8a. The population ignoring ethnic classification

A useful introduction to changing population distribution is provided by the report of Champion et al (1998) on migration flows in England (R59). Perhaps the most significant phenomenon in the last half century has been what is termed the ‘counter-urbanisation cascade', the movement of people from inner cities to suburbs, large cities to small towns, urban areas to rural areas. This must be understood in terms of ‘push' and ‘pull' factors. Push factors include high population density, noise, high crime rates, lack of open green spaces, etc . Pull factors are the reverse of the push factors – low population density, plenty of green space, peace and quiet, perceived lower crime rates. More generally there has been a response to a ‘rural idyll', an idealization of the rural way of life. Another important trend has been the migration of people from the north to the south of Britain, although the magnitude of this trend has fluctuated over the years.

Of all regions in England, the South East Region with Greater London has seen the highest level of both in and out migration, but with a net outflow. Net international immigration has come to make a very significant contribution to migration flows. It seems to have been “highly focused on the inner areas of London, and a relatively small number of other places that in turn are losing population to other areas through internal migration”.

The report concludes that the various population movements in England are all linked together: “There is clear research evidence of the various population movements being linked together to form a single national urban system, notably in the form of London's pivotal role and in terms of the counter–urbanisation cascade. This is a system in which international migration appears to be playing an increasingly crucial role”.

The inter–relationships of international migration and inter–regional migration (migration between the 11 standard statistical regions of GB) were investigated by Hatton and Tani (R60). They conclude that “immigration to a region of foreign nationals generates between a third and two thirds as much out–migration to other regions”. They further conclude that this varies across regions – the effect seems to be larger for the southern regions, especially London, the same regions where the inflow of foreign nationals is greatest. The authors interpret their results in terms of British labour market adjustments.

A recently published study by Dorling and Thomas, based on the 1991 and 2001 censuses, paints a fascinating but very complicated picture of changes in distribution of population, household types, employment, occupation, health, poverty, car ownership and other matters between these two dates (R61). The information is primarily presented in a series of very detailed maps of the UK.

There has been much talk in recent years of what has been called the north–south divide in England: a poorer north and a wealthier south. Associated with this has been the north to south movement of population already mentioned. The authors of the present report conclude that the north south divide has increased. They identify the dividing line as roughly running from the Severn to the Humber estuaries – it is shown in red on the map on page 187. They conceptualise things in this way. We used to think of the north and south as each consisting of a group of cities, towns, villages and countryside. The divide was to a large extent just a regional one.

Now however, the boundary lies between two places even more dissimilar from each other, a Greater London to the south and the rest. The authors use the term city structure: a dense urban core, suburbs, parks, and a rural fringe. To the south the city structures are converging as a single great metropolis (centering on London), while the north is a “provincial archipelago of city islands”. So for example, the old counties of Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire are no longer counties, but rather city limits of London. And the commuter belt of the metropolis extends up to the ends of the M3 and M11, up to Leamington Spa on the M40 and to Chepstow on the M4. Half the population of the UK now lives within the immediate influence of Greater London. “Built–up Greater London now extends as far north as its suburbs of Leicester and Northampton, as far west as its edge suburbs of Bristol and Plymouth. Between these places are green fields, but they are now the parkland of this city. Hardly anyone living near those fields works on the land”.

The pattern of population movements is complicated. However, the population of the metropolis has grown, and the population of the UK is slowly moving south. Thinking in terms of population density (number of people living in a district for every hectare in that district), population density has grown nationally. However, as people have moved south, densities have increased most in London and the South East. In contrast, almost all the falls in density in the UK have been outside the South East, with the largest fall being in Manchester in the north.

The economic needs of London drive the whole population and economic system. In the metropolis are found the most qualified people and the fewest with no qualifications. Indeed the centre of the metropolis swarms with university graduates. The metropolis is the financial centre, employs the bulk of managers and is the workplace of preference for professionals.

“Almost no one in the metropolis is sick or disabled in comparison with the archipelago”. And “it is in the archipelago islands that people are most likely to need to care for family or friends who are ill”, “where most lone parents without work are found, and where the fewest households have two earners”. Yet there are fewer doctors and dentists per head in the archipelago than in the metropolis. The employment picture is complicated, but it is the north that has suffered the great upheaval with the decline in coal mining. The number of people working in skilled trades has declined, mainly in the north. Likewise the number of machine operatives have fallen, also mostly in the north.

For many decades there has generally been a movement of people from the north to the south However, in some very recent years, this trend wasn reversed, and Champion (R62) gives details in his survey of the north-south flows from 1971 to 2003 to which we now turn.

Champion notes that the net north to south flow dates back at least to the early 1930s and the Great Depression, and the net flow continued in subsequent decades. In recent decades, the process has fluctuated considerably. The biggest net north to south flows occurred in the late 1970s and most of the 1980s. This was followed by a few years(1989 to 1992) where north–south and south–north flows were roughly in balance – i.e. very little net migration either north or south. Then in the 1990s the net flow north to south developed again, although net flows were not as large as they has been in in the 1970s–1980s. Then in 2001–2003 there was a significant reversal of net flows. And the north's net gain in 2003 was a little over 35,000 people.

Finally, a recent study of internal migration in the UK by Dennett and Stillwell looks at population stability in different areas of Britain, using the concepts of population turnover and churn. “Turnover is a measure of the intensity of migration into and out of a district, whereas churn incorporates these flows and also includes the flows that take place within each district”.

The authors found that the highest levels of turnover and churn occurred in London and some other urban areas; in contrast, “the lowest levels are found in rural and previously industrial areas”. And rural areas have high stability despite the substantial net in–migration to rural areas (counter–urbanisation). Stability varies between age groups. The least stable age groups are the 16 to 29 age groups, especially the 20–24 age group, the most stable the 45 and over age groups, especially the pensionable age groups (R63).

8b. Ethnic groups

We set the stage by something that was in the version of this web page before the May 2008 revision:
“According to the 2001 census, in numerous electoral wards (districts of the country used for census purposes) white people are now in a minority compared with the total of all other ethnic groups. While these wards only make up a small minority of the total number of wards, in London, Whites are in a minority in all the electoral wards of two whole boroughs (Brent, 21 wards, Newham, 20 wards)" (R58). 'In some areas of London and elsewhere "temples, shops, cafes, cinemas – the whole ambience – suggest Bombay rather than, say, Burnley or Southall, Port of Spain rather than Brixton ...' (R 53). For Whites living in such areas, swamping has become a fact. However, considering that all ethnic minorities only make up a total of roughly eight per cent of the total UK population, there is no likelihood of ethnic replacement of the indigenous population at the national level in the short or medium term”.

Ethnic minority groups are heavily concentrated in inner urban areas. However, they have also been taking part in the counter–urbanisation cascade that was mentioned above, and now ethnic minoriy persons are found in all districts of England. The report by Dorling and Thomas (R61) discussed earlier, provides an interesting insight into the distribution of ethnic minority populations in the UK in the section of their work covering both religion and ethnicity.

In this report each religious and ethnic group is considered separately. A complicating factor is that the categories offered to people to identify themselves by were not identical in the 1991 and 2001 censuses. In particular, in 2001, several mixed white and other groups were offered as categories.

Ethnic minorities remain heavily concentrated in urban areas, particularly in London (however, there has been some spread from cities to more distant suburbs, small towns and more rural areas, and we will return to this movement later). People of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin remain very concentrated in areas of initial settlement. Not only are ethnic minorities concentrated in urban areas, but they are concentrated in just a few particular districts; the magic number here is 13. Again and again we read that roughly fifty per cent of a particular ethnic group live in just 13 districts. These are concentrated in London, but also occur in several midland and northern cities. In terms of religion, the two largest non-Christian religions are Islam and Hinduism. The majority of Muslims live in urban areas in just 20 districts, Hindus live predominantly in suburban areas, and mainly in 13 districts.

One thing that stands out in the maps is the changing percentage of the White ethnic group in different districts (nationally the White population decreased from 94.4 per cent to 92.1 per cent). Here it is better to look not at the maps on page 45 but the replacement maps given in the replacement map pages supplied separately to the main document. Compare these maps with any map of the UK showing the size and distribution of cities and towns. You can then see that the greatest falls in the white percentages have occurred in larger urban areas.

A final word about how the report describes the distribution of ethnic groups in the UK. The introductory section of the chapter on religion and ethnicity says:
“The UK remains a White desert with a few oases of colour” (page 36).
Now the word desert is associated with barrenness and desolation. The word oasis is associated with renewal, and high productivity. We may wonder what would have been the reaction if the authors had contrasted the distribution of Whites and ethnic minorities in some opposite fashion there would have been an outcry and they would have been accused of being racist and fascist. White people are entitled to object to this unnecessary depiction of race. However, there is unlikely to be any adverse reaction to how the authors describe things from the politically correct establishment which in our view is in power generally in the UK.

We turn now to a report by Lupton and Power (R31), as it provides detailed information on the distribution of the ethnic minority populations in GB at the time of the 2001 census and changes in these populations since the 1991 census:

In 2001, ethnic minorities were concentrated in large urban areas. However, each ethnic group was, in geographical terms, concentrated differently. For example, the Pakistani population was strongly represented in Manchester, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, and midland cities, with a smaller proportion of the population in London than was the case for Indians. In contrast, the Black Caribbean population was heavily concentrated in London, and to a lesser extent in Birmigham. Through this concentration of ethnic minorities in large urban areas, most local authorities in GB had minority populations at, or more usually below, the national average.

Since 1991, the increase in the number of people from ethnic minorities has been widespread in GB, occurring in virtually every local authority area. However, in numerical terms, the greatest increases have occurred where minorities were already concentrated, that is mainly inner urban areas. “This has led to the greatest percentage point increases in minority ethnic groups as a share of population in the areas where they were already well established. In inner urban areas, this trend has been accompanied by a continuing decline in white population, leading to significant changes in overall ethnic composition ”.

The authors were unable to say to what extent settlement patterns of ethnic minorities were through choice or constraint. “Nor can we say how much of the loss of white populations from inner urban areas is 'white flight' from areas that are becoming dominated by minority groups, or a product of the natural ageing of white communities, or a product of out-movement for other reasons ”.

Champion (62) confirms that the increase in the number of people from ethnic minorities has been widespread. In terms of the UK's 434 districts in 2001, 244 registered an increase in non–White population due to within–UK migration. However, he points out that things are more complicated than the simple generalisation of Whites moving out of areas as non–Whites move in, and the associated notion of 'white flight'. He writes that “many of these 244 districts also had net inflows of White people”. Further, “a fair number of districts — but especially London boroughs — that lost White population through their migration exchanges with the rest of the UK during this one-year period were also losing non–Whites through this process”.

A paper by Large and Ghosh (R64) adds further information about recent (2003) ethnic population structure in different areas and change over the period mid–2001 to mid–2003, with particular reference to the main regions of England. These regions ('Government Office Regions' or GORs) are nine in number:
North East, North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England, London, South East, South West.

London still has the greatest number, the greatest concentration of peoples of the non–'White British' population, although the proportion of the total non–'White British' that is found in London fell from 44.7 per cent in 2001 to 42.5 per cent in 2003. Of all the nine regions of England, London has shown the lowest annual growth rate of the non–'White British' population. The two regions with the highest growth rate of the non-'White British', North East and South West, are the regions with the smallest base of that population.

Perhaps the most interesting and important facts to note about London, however are, first that there has been a pattern of net internal migration of the non-'White British' population out from London very similar in magnitude to the net international migration of this group into London. Second, while the non–'White British' population has grown in all regions, a distinction can be made between more and less urban areas. There is a pattern of the non-'White British' population growth being driven by international in-migration in the more urban areas, and, in the more rural areas, largely by migration from the more urban areas.

Large and Ghosh went on to discuss different measurements of the ethnic diversity of different areas, a topic very relevant to current concerns about multiculturalism and segregation. One measure of diversity showed (as the authors say, not surprisingly) that in terms of Local Authority Districts (LADs), the most ethnically diverse LADs are concentrated in London, with Birmingham and Leicester also showing a very high diversity. Using a different measure of diversity, they found that Asian Pakistani, Asian Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean and Black African groups showed the greatest degree of segregation, the Mixed Groups and the Chinese the lowest.

If we link this information with the information we presented earlier in section 6c. we see that Muslim groups tend to be highly segregated from the rest of the population.

Finally, Nissa Finney and Ludi Simpson at the Cathie Marsh Centre, University of Manchester, conclude from their analyses that most differences in migration patterns between ethnic groups within Britain are not primarily differences between ethnic groups per se, but rather they are caused by socioeconomic and demographic factors that operate with white groups as well as with non–white groups (R65, R66). Further, despite some marked differences in migration patterns between whites and non–whites, “counter–urbanisation, a north–south shift and dispersal from areas of co–ethnic concentration are common to all ethnic groups. If 'white flight' is to be identified, 'non-white flight' should be also”. (R65 And see also R66). However, we think the causation of movement of white and minority groups and the idea of 'white flight' mentioned above, deserve further examination. More specifically, and despite the conclusions of Finney and Simpson, we ask the question, has internal migration of whites been partly caused by a wish to move away from areas of high or increasing ethnic minority concentration, either through fear of possible adverse effects on society of this concentration or because of a simple dislike of 'others', of ethnic minorities?

8c. White flight

Until recently, the analysis of movement in terms of ethnicity has received more attention in the USA than in the UK. A key figure here is W.H. Frey. In his 1995 paper (R67) he looked at the possible influences of international migration (immigration) on internal migration. In the course of this paper he refers to ‘flight' (pages 733, 736 and 755, and, more specifically, ‘white flight' page 754).

Frey divided the States of the USA into three categories: high immigration states, high internal migration states and high out–migration states. He notes that one consequence of migration patterns for high immigration states “is an increase in their minority populations resulting from immigration dominated by new minorities – Latinos and Asians and, in some cases, an out–migration that is largely white”.

In writing about urban change (what he terms the ‘urban revival') he says that there are “sharp spatial disparities in the growth patterns between the nation's white population and its racial and ethnic minorities”. He concludes that his findings “suggest that the immigration and internal migration processes are leading to a greater demographic balkanisation – a spatial segmentation of the population by race–ethnicity and socio–economic status across metropolitan areas” (see our footnote on 'balkanisation').

Frey notes that in addition to ‘racial selectivity distinctions in migration', previous research has shown other important distinctions for between–area migrations, namely education level and income level. Thus with the out–migration from high immigration states: “the out–migration from these states tends to select on the lower socio–economic ranks. Their out–migration rates tend to be highest for whites with below–poverty incomes, and with low college graduate education attainment levels”.

In a later paper (R68), the conclusion was reached that the ethnic displacements examined could be explained in terms of immigrants being labour substitutes for domestic migrants who could take advantage of opportunities in other areas. They could also be explained in terms of “less well–off, longer-term residents in high immigration areas...reacting to perceived increases in social costs” caused by immigration – higher crime rates, reduced services or increased local taxes”. But “in addition, one cannot ignore the possibility that race and ethnic prejudice may enter into decisions of native residents, especially whites, to relocate away from increasingly multiethnic areas in much the same manner that such prejudice prompted ‘suburban flight' in many American cities in the 1950s and 1960s” (our bold text).

All this gives us some insight into the complicated relationships between economic, social, and ethnic/racial differences that may characterise internal migration streams, and the extent these different factors may possibly be causal factors, i.e. ‘drivers' of population movement.

These complicated relationships are also found in the UK, to which country we now turn. We will however, not attempt to survey the literature on economic and social factors. Rather we look for evidence that ‘white flight' in the UK cannot be explained entirely in terms of socio–economic ranking, but that one cause is the movement of whites, for whatever specific reason, away from areas of high or increasing ethnic minority concentration.

If we look first at the media, and confine ourselves just to recent times, we note that early in 2008, Church of England Bishop Michael Nazir–Ali was saying that Islamic extremism has made some areas of Britain ‘no–go' areas for non-Muslims (Telegraph 15th January and 24th February). The black chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, supported the bishop, telling the BBC's Radio 4 programme that “there are areas in which there is no contact or very little contact between different ethnic and cultural groups. White flight is accelerating, schools are becoming more segregated” (Daily Mail 15th January 2008).

Turning to the academic literature, Gordon and Whitehead (R69) studied the impact of immigration on the population of London. In considering how international migration may have displacement effects on other Londoners, they wrote that these effects “may include (i.e. select) a ‘white flight' element”, and later, Whitehead 2008 (R70): “may include a ‘white/established household flight' element”.

Stillwell and Duke-Williams (R71), examined international migration and internal migration of ethnic groups on the basis of 2001 census data. One question they asked was: is there a relationship between non–white immigration and white internal migration?

They compared white ethnic groups with the amalgamated non–white ethnic groups.. Examining all census districts, they selected the 113 districts in which the non–white share of the population was over 5 per cent of the total population. They found that white internal net migration – movement out of districts – was highest where non–white (international) migration was greatest, and the correlation was significant. The relationship was shown graphically in their figure 10. However, the authors state that they were not able to claim a cause and effect relationship. This illustrates an important general fact, namely, correlation does not prove causation.

The most direct evidence of ‘white flight' away from areas of high or increasing ethnic minority concentration comes from interviews, to which we now turn.

Halfacree (R72) studied attitudes to urban-rural migration, making use of interviews. The key perceived positive social features of the destination (rural areas) are summarised in table 10 of his paper. This lists seven points. One is “there were far fewer 'non–white' people in the area”.

Neal (R73) drew attention to various pieces of evidence provided by other researchers: Increasingly the perception of an idyllic English countryside has become associated with white ‘safety', safety from an urban malaise – English cities that have “become increasingly diverse ('unEnglish') and synonymous with an undesirable black/Other presence”.
In the West country one researcher found that “the urban to rural migration movement contains people who openly define themselves as 'refugees from multiracialism/culturalism”. In Norfolk one researcher quoted one respondent who explained why some people “come to Norfolk for 'quality of life' and the white complexion of the area has something to do with that quality of life”. And a third researcher noted there is “a hardcore [urban/rural migrants] who believe they have left blacks behind in the city”.

Now we think that ‘white flight' from areas of high or increasing ethnic minority concentration, is probably much more extensive than is generally recognised simply because in the present politically correct climate, where if any white person expresses any concern about the effects of ethnic minority immigration they are immediately labelled as racist or fascist, most people will not talk openly about white flight. This opinion was shared by the BBC reporter Vivian White who, after interviewing residents in the Lancashire town of Blackburn, concluded that as Asian communities expanded in Blackburn, many whites moved out in response. But, he said “... the whole subject of 'white flight' and why it's happening is something people find difficult to discuss. They're afraid that if they do, they'll be labelled as racist” (BBC Panorama programme 7–5–07 , both the BBC transcript and the 'straight report').

We want to point out that ‘white flight' is not confined to Great Britain and the USA. It probably occurs widely across Europe. An example comes from The Netherlands. Zorlu and Latten concluded from their study: “The propensity to move is relatively high among natives who reside in neighbourhoods with a higher share of non–western migrants. The estimates indicate a segregatory tendency among non–western migrants and natives. The native movers tend to choose neighbourhoods with a higher share of natives, while non-western migrants are less likely to choose native neighbourhoods”. (R74).

Finally, however, we note some very recently published work (2009) by Simpson and Finney (R75) in which they reach a different conclusion about white flight. These authors examined net migration in terms of percentage of the 2001 population, to and from areas defined in terms of degree of concentration of different ethnic groups – lowest concentration, low concentration, medium concentration, high concentration and highest concentration. Considering areas classified as having the highest concentration of ethnic minority groups, both White and minority groups moved out of these areas at a similar rate. This suggests to the authors that to focus on white flight from areas of high ethnic minority concentration is misleading, for ethnic minorities are engaging in the same type of flight. They think that the movement out of areas of highest minority concentration “could be considered as non–racial movement from poor housing”. Further for areas defined in terms of concentration of Whites, and the highest concentration areas, minorities show a significant net out–migration while Whites show a low degree of net in–migration.

However, looking at the table where they summarise the flight data, if one looks again at areas defined in terms of the concentration of ethnic minorities, and in particular areas classified as medium and high concentration of ethnic minorities, while both Whites and minorities show net out–migration, the rate of out–migration is far greater for Whites than for minorities. This surely suggests white flight as generally understood. And the authors do admit that “the White movement, however, is greater from the medium quintiles with a lower proportion of minority residents”.

 

Footnote. Balkanization.

‘Balkanization' means to “divide (a region or body) into smaller mutually hostile states or groups” (The New Oxford Dictionary of English). The term derives from the area of south-east Europe known as the Balkans, an area long known for racial, ethnic and religious tensions and conflict.

Parsons (R 56) wrote about these tensions and conflicts. He pointed out that there is good reason to think that change in the proportion of different ethnic or religious groups in a population can considerably increase inter–ethnic tensions and be one of the causes of the outbreak of conflict between groups. He noted that the former Yugoslavia (part of the Balkans) provides an example. Before the civil wars which led to the break up of Yugoslavia, the country had five official nationalities, 12 ethnic minorities and three major religions; and deep and longstanding rivalries between Serbs, Croats, Muslims, and other ethnic groups, were present long before the beginning of these wars. There were also differences between the groups in birth and growth rates, and Parsons speaks of population competition and competitive breeding .

Return to CONTENTS

 


9) Acknowledgements

We wish to thank the various persons in the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and in universities who, in e-mail and telephonic correspondence have attempted to answer our queries.

For ONS publications, our tables, graphs, histograms and figures are based on data that are reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence (Licence to reproduce public sector information, Office of Public Sector information). Source: National Statistics web site: www.statistics.gov.uk  Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO.

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Appendix to UK section of this page

Comparison of Projections

mid-year

end of year

 

Experimental statistics and fertility estimation

The fertility estimates of Large and Ghosh are part of 'experimental statistics' about which the acknowledged limitations of the methodology must be borne in mind when interpreting the estimates. In particular, the methodology is based on reliance on 2001 Census data for parameter estimation. The methodology papers associated with the statistics give full details of these 'limitations' and the problems faced in attempting to estimate ethnic group fertility rates. On the 2001 Census and sizes of ethnic populations we read that the method used in the experimental statistics “places great reliance on using the results of the 2001 Census to identify differences between ethnic groups”, and estimates of ethnic population size produced as standard output from the Census “necessarily fail to reflect rapid growth in some groups since 2001”. We now add our own comment that there were considerable criticisms of the Census methodology and results, following the release of these results. We gave details of the criticisms on the version of the UK section of this page that was on the web prior to July 2004. This version can still be read on our Archive page (item (b) “The United Kingdom section of the Population Trends page, as it was before the July 2004 revision of that page”).

On the fertility estimates, Large has written in e-mail correspondence with us that “ The Population Trends article describing the methodology underlying the Population Estimates by Ethnic Group (PEEG) pointed out that our estimates of the TPFR showed less variation between ethnic groups than estimated by other researchers, and that this might be attributable to convergence of rates over time (our estimates are based on results from the 2001 Census while other studies use earlier data sources) or an artefact of the different methodologies” (our italics).

“ A specific aspect of the methodology which was identified as an issue in the documents supporting the January 2006 release was the use of mother-infant ratios to estimate age-specific fertility rates. As was acknowledged at the time, this approach did not allow for differences between ethnic groups in patterns of children not linked with their mother
on a Census form”.

“Following the publication of the Population Trends article (which described the methodology used in that initial release), revised Population Estimates by Ethnic Group  were published on 17 August 2006. The revised estimates used an improved methodology which, amongst other things, does take account of these 'unlinked' children. The various changes, together with estimates of their impact on the estimates, are detailed in the Changes to Methodology and Revisions paper available at
http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=14238 )”.

Finally, in later correspondence where Large kindly supplied us with the revised fertility estimates he writes “Can I emphasise that the implied estimates do not reflect any direct knowledge of fertility within each ethnic group since the 2001 Census”.

 

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13th June 2010. UK. Office for Public Responsibility: “Pre–Budget forecast June 2010”. See chapter five.
24th June 2010. Population Change. Briefing by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
24th June 2010. UK population approaches 62 million. Mid–2009 Population Estimates. News Release (ONS).
24th June 2010. ONS. Population Trends No. 140.
24th June 2010. ONS. Population. Fertility. UK fertility remains high.
July 2010. Wohland, P. et al. “ Ethnic population Projections for the UK and Local Areas, 2001–2051”. Working Paper 10/02. School of Geography, Leeds University, UK.
Summer 2010. International Passenger Survey (IPS) estimates of long-term international migration. Rolling annual data to Q3 2009.
21st July 2010. ONS. Population. Live births. fertility rates fall.
21st July 2010. ONS. Statistical Bulletin. Births and deaths in England and Wales 2009.
26th August 2010. ONS. Statistical Bulletin. Migration Statistics Quarterly Report no. 6
September 2010. A paper by David Coleman, Professor of Demography at Oxford University: Coleman, D. (2010). Projections of the ethnic minority populations of the United Kingdom 2006–2056. Population and Development Review 36, 3: 441-486.
23rd September 2010. ONS. Populations Trends No. 141.
5th October 2010. ONS. Release of six additional 2008–based variant projections.
11th October 2010. Director General for the Office of National Statistics. Population projections to 2108.
11th October 2010. Director General for the Office of National Statistics. Population projections to 2108.
25th October 2010. ONS. Migration statistics 2009.
25th October 2010. ONS. Polish people in the UK. Half a million Polish–born residents.
25th October 2010. ONS. Statistical Bulletin. Migration Statistics Quarterly Report no. 7.
25th November 2010. ONS. Statistical Bulletin. Migration Statistics 2009.
25th November 2010. ONS. Population. Migration. Net migration remains high.
8th December 2010. ONS. Statistical Bulletin. Who is having babies?
9th December 2010. POpulation Trends No. 142.
30th December 2010. Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Report on number of future Centarians.
21st February 2011. Eurostat. Immigration to EU member states down by 6% and emigration up by 13% in 2008. Statistics in focus 1/2011.
24th February 2011. ONS. Statistical Bulletin. Migration Statistics Quarterly Report no. 8.
Spring 2011. Population Trends No. 143.
18th May 2011. ONS. Statistical Bulletin. Population estimates by ethnic group 2002-2009.
26th May 2011. ONS. Statistical Bulletin. Migration Statistics Quarterly Report. May 2011.
23rd June 2011. ONS. Population Trends No. 144.
30th June 2011. ONS. Population. Population Change. UK population increases by 470,000.
30th June 2011. ONS. Annual Mid-Year Population Estimates, 2010.
25th August 2011. ONS. Statistical Bulletin. Migration Statistics Quarterly Report.
25th August 2011. ONS. Births in England and Wales by parents' country of birth, 2010.

When this table of reports was started it was intended to revise this page late 2010 or early 2011. This revision has now been postponed until the early part of 2012. In future recording of regularly appearing reports such as quarterly reports, will be discontinued. Only important one–off publications will be mentioned.

 
 
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