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Regional Profiles: Key Statistics - South West, August 2012

Released: 13 August 2012 Download PDF

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Population density: by local or unitary authority, 2010

Map showing range of population density in local or unitary authority areas within the South West region
Source: Office for National Statistics


  1. Mid-year population estimates published on 30 June 2011

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The South West region is the largest English region in terms of area at around 23,800 square kilometres (sq km), and is also bigger in area than both Wales and Northern Ireland. More than a third of its land is within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) (30 per cent) and National Parks (7 per cent), and it has 60 per cent of England’s Heritage Coast.

The South West’s population density in mid-2010 was 221 people per sq km, compared with the UK and England densities of 257 and 401 respectively. The figure is the lowest among English regions, but above that of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The South West had a population of 5.3 million in mid-2010, an increase of 6.7 per cent since 2001, compared with an increase of 5.3 per cent for the UK over the same period.

People aged 65 and over in 2010 made up 19.6 per cent of the population, compared with 17.6 per cent for the under-16s. This indicates an older population than the UK (16.6 and 18.6 per cent respectively).

In 2011 the South West’s house prices increased by 0.1 per cent, the only region except London to show an increase.

The lowest proportion of children living in workless households in the fourth quarter of 2011 was in the South West at 10.3 per cent, compared with the England average of 15.7 per cent.

There was a 7.1 per cent increase of traffic on major roads in the South West between 2001 and 2011, the second highest increase in the English regions.

Gross disposable household income (GDHI) of South West residents was £15,700 per head in 2010.

In 2010 the South West was responsible for almost 8 per cent of the UK’s gross value added (GVA).

The employment rate in the South West stood at 73.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, higher than the UK rate of 70.5 per cent.

In April 2011, the median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees on adult rates who were resident in the region was £473, lower than the UK median of £501.

The percentage of the region’s population that had no qualifications in 2011 was 8.0 per cent, the second lowest proportion in the UK after the South East.

In the South West, 57.9 per cent of pupils achieved five or more grades A*–C at GCSE level or equivalent including English and mathematics in 2010/11, compared with 58.4 per cent for England as a whole. There is an interactive map of GCSE results for unitary authorities in England.

Crime rates were among the lowest in England in 2011/12. There were 208 household offences per 1,000 households, lower than the England average (244 incidents per 1,000 households). There were 61 recorded crimes per 1,000 population compared with 71 per 1,000 population across England in 2011/12.

Life expectancy at birth in the three-year period 2008 to 2010 was 79.5 years for males and 83.5 years for females compared with 78.2 and 82.3 years respectively for the UK.

The Regional Trends 43 article 'Rural and urban areas: comparing lives using rural/urban classifications' (2.81 Mb Pdf) looks at rural and urban areas statistically for several themes including population, using geographical classifications.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Notes and sources:All data are published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) unless stated below.

    The data section of this release provides more data.

    Population estimates and population density are for 30 June each year. The mid-2010 population estimates are those published on 30 June 2011.

    The House Price Index is based on mix-adjusted house prices, which allow for differences between houses sold (for example type, number of rooms, location). The annual rate of change shown is percentage change between December 2010 and December 2011.

    Workless households for areas across the UK provides more information about the employment of household and the adults and children living in them.

    Major roads are motorways and A roads. Traffic increase data are from the Department for Transport.

    Gross disposable household income (GDHI) is a good indicator of the welfare of residents of an area. It covers the income received by households and non profit-making institutions serving households and is net of tax payments.

    Gross value added (GVA) measures the economic output of an area. The estimates are workplace based, which allocates the incomes of individuals to their place of work.

    Employment rates are seasonally adjusted Labour Force Survey (LFS) headline indicators, for all people aged 16 to 64.

    Median gross weekly earnings are residence-based estimates from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) for full-time employees on adult rates whose pay for the survey pay-period was not affected by absence.

    Qualification estimates are for residents aged 16 to 64 from the Annual Population Survey. Please note that these estimates, at national or regional level in England, will not agree with National Statistics published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in the Post 16 Education and Skills Statistical First Release (Table 12). Qualification data are obtained from the ONS’s Annual Population Survey via Nomis.

    GCSE figures relate to pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 in Local Authority maintained schools only and are taken from revised (but not final) data published on 26 January 2012. GCSE data are from the Department for Education.

    The Crime Survey England and Wales (CSEW) provides a measure of people’s experience of crime based on responses to a survey of households and does not cover all types of crime, for example fraud or forgery or crimes against commercial property. Recorded crime covers offences reported to and recorded by the police.

    Life expectancy figures reflect mortality among those living in the area in each time period, rather than mortality among those born in each area. More information is available in Guide to: Life expectancy in the United Kingdom.

  2. You may use or re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. To view this licence, visit or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email:

  3. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

Further information

Regional Profiles - Population and Migration - South West, October 2011 - Key facts and figures about population and migration statistics for the South West region.
Regional Profiles - Social Indicators - South West - February 2012 - A range of social statistics for the South West region providing key facts and figures about people, lives, income and lifestyles in the area
Regional Profiles: Economy - South West, May 2012 - Key facts and figures about the economy, employment and unemployment for the South West region.
Regional Trends, No. 42, 2010 Edition - Portrait of the South West (Pdf 1468Kb) - The Portrait of the South West presents a wide range of information covering infrastructure, demographic, environmental and economic statistics for the region.

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