In addition to the ethnic classification, the 2001 survey introduced a new question on national identity. This question was used on the 2001 Census and added to a number of government surveys, including the Labour Force Survey and the GHS (see Appendix E). People were able to choose between English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, British and other, and could choose as many or as few of the categories as they wished. This question was asked in the household section of the questionnaire and was asked separately for each member of the household.
This section shows how people described their national identity, and how they combined national identities when they categorised themselves as belonging to more than one group.
Overall, 46% of people described themselves as British, 51% of people considered themselves to be English, 9% Scottish, 4% Welsh and 2% Irish.
- 31% described themselves as British only;
- 15% described themselves as British and also English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish;
- 49% described themselves as English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish only;
- 5% gave a non-British national identity and 1% gave other combinations of national identity.
Comparison across age groups showed that people most likely to identify themselves as British were those aged between 35 and 44:
- over half of people aged 35 to 44 (52%) identified themselves as British compared with 48% of younger adults aged 16 to 34 and just over a third (36%) of those aged 65 and over.
Older adults were most likely to identify themselves as English.
- Among people aged less than 55, under half of adults described themselves as English, compared with, for example, 58% of those aged 75 and over.
Younger people were more likely than older people to describe themselves as having an 'other' national identity:
- 7% of 16 to 24 year olds and 10% of those aged 25 to 34 did so, compared with between 2% and 5% of older adults.
People aged less than 55 were more likely than older people to describe themselves as British only.
- Among those aged less than 55, between 26% and 33% described themselves as British only compared with 23% of those aged 65 and over.
Older people were more likely to describe themselves as English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish only - 54% of people aged 55 to 64 and 62% of those aged 65 and over described themselves in this way compared with between 43% and 48% of people aged less than 55.
People living in Wales and Scotland were less likely to describe themselves as British than people living in England.
- Almost a half (48%) of people in England considered themselves to be British, compared with around a third (35%) of those living in Wales and a quarter (27%) of those living in Scotland.
In each of the regions of England, people were slightly more likely to describe themselves as English than British, with two exceptions. People in the North East and in London were equally likely to describe themselves as British and as English. However, in the case of the North East, this was because the proportion choosing British was high in comparison with other regions while in London the proportion choosing English was low. People living in London were considerably more likely than people in other regions to describe themselves as having a national identity other than those of the UK nations.
- 19% of people in London described their national identity as ‘other’ compared with between 2% and 5% in other areas of England, Scotland and Wales.
People from minority ethnic groups were more likely to consider themselves British than were those of White ethnic origin - almost three fifths (57%) did so compared with less than half (45%) of those in the White group. Conversely, people from minority ethnic groups were less likely to consider themselves as English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish:
- 11% of people from minority ethnic groups described themselves as English compared with 54% of people of white ethnic origin
As Table 3.20 shows, people from minority ethic groups were also considerably less likely to describe themselves as having more than one national identity than were those of White ethnic origin.
- Over half (51%) of people from minority ethic groups described themselves as British only, compared with 29% from those who said their ethnic origin was White.