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How do characteristics of migrant populations vary by length of residence?

Non-UK born residents of England and Wales living in the UK for over 30 years were more likely to hold a UK passport than more recent arrivals

Almost half (46%) of the foreign-born population who were resident in England and Wales at the time of the 2011 Census held UK citizenship. This proportion increased with length of residence, from 9% among recent arrivals (2007-2011) to 77% among those who had been resident for more than 30 years.

Around a fifth (21%) of those born in EU countries had a UK passport at the time of the 2011 Census, compared to over half (58%) of those born outside the EU. These differences appear consistent over time: for those who had been resident for more than 30 years prior to the Census, around half (51%) of those who were born in EU countries were UK citizens in 2011. This compares to nine in ten (90%) of those born outside the EU. The difference may reflect the free movement rights of EU citizens, meaning they do not need to acquire UK nationality in order to live and work in the UK.

This trend can be seen more clearly when focusing on those residents who were born in the countries that joined the EU between 2001-2011. Of those who had been resident for more than 30 years at the time of the Census (and therefore arrived at a time when their country of origin did not have EU membership) the proportion who held a UK passport was almost as high as those from outside the EU, at 85%.

Figure 1: Percentage of non-UK born population who were UK passport holders, by region of birth and length of residence; 2011 Census

Figure 1: Percentage of non-UK born population who were UK passport holders, by region of birth and length of residence; 2011 Census
Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

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How does housing tenure change by length of residence?


Most foreign-born residents initially seek accommodation within the private sector, with 73% of recent arrivals (2007-2011) living in privately rented accommodation. The proportion living in owner occupied accommodation increases with length of residence, from 18% of recent arrivals (2007-2011) to 78% for those who had been resident for more than 30 years before the Census (compared to 69% of UK-born residents).

Overall, the level of social housing occupancy among the UK-born population was similar to the non-UK born population (both 16%), some of whom may be living as a partner or family member of a UK-born head of household. Length of residence did not have a clear effect on social housing occupancy, and some country of birth groups showed consistently higher levels of social renting – irrespective of length of residence.

Figure 2: Housing tenure for UK born, and non-UK born by length of residence; 2011 Census

Figure 2: Housing tenure for UK born, and non-UK born by length of residence; 2011 Census
Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

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How does English language proficiency change by length of residence?


The majority of the non-UK born population were proficient in English (89%); that is, they could speak English well or English was their main language. Among recent arrivals (2007-2011), 84% were proficient in English, compared to 93% of those who had been resident for more than 30 years. Among the Chinese-born population, recent arrivals (2007-2011) were more likely to be proficient English speakers than those who had been resident for more than 30 years at the time of the Census (84% and 62% respectively). This difference is likely to reflect the high proportion of Chinese-born recent arrivals studying in the UK who – unlike those migrating from within the EU – are required to meet English language criteria as part of their visa conditions.

Figure 3: Language proficiency by country of birth and length of residence (aged 3 years and over); 2011 Census

Figure 3: Language proficiency by country of birth and length of residence (aged 3 years and over); 2011 Census
Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

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Where can I find out more about migration and Census statistics?

These statistics were analysed by the Census Analysis Unit, Population Statistics Division at ONS. This analysis is based largely on data from the 2011 Census, carried out by ONS. If you would like to find out more about the latest Census statistics, you can read the release or visit the Census or Census analysis pages. If you have any comments or suggestions, we would like to hear them! Please email us at: census.analysis.inbox@ons.gsi.gov.uk.

Categories: People and Places, People, Identity, Language, National Identity, Population, Migration, International Migration, Population by Nationality and Country of Birth, Long-term Migrants
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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