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Northern Ireland had the largest proportion of children in 2012

The 2013 ONS analysis of the characteristics of Northern Ireland

The latest ONS Region and Country Profiles analysis takes a look at the regional characteristics of the nine regions within England and countries of the UK, exploring aspects such as population, age, employment and house prices. The profile of Northern Ireland shows it to have one of the youngest populations of the UK with a median age of 37.6 years. Northern Ireland contributed 2% of the UK’s economic output and the unemployment rate in mid-2013 was 7.5%.

Northern Ireland makes up 3% of the total UK population

In terms of population, Northern Ireland is the smallest UK country and smaller than all the English regions, with 1.8 million people at mid-2012. This represents 3% of the total UK population and an increase of 0.5% since 2011.

Northern Ireland occupies the north-east of the island of Ireland, sharing a border with the Republic of Ireland (Eire). It covers 13,600 square kilometres (sq km) and covers 6% of the total area of the UK. The Belfast metropolitan area dominates in population terms, with over a third of the inhabitants of Northern Ireland. In mid-2012, Northern Ireland’s population density was 134 people per sq km, the second lowest density of all UK countries.

The median age of Northern Ireland’s population is 2 years less than the UK

People aged under 16 made up 21.0% of the population of Northern Ireland in mid-2012, the largest proportion in the UK, compared with 18.8% for the UK. The proportion of people aged 65 and over was 15.0%, compared with 17.0% for the UK. The median age of Northern Ireland’s population was one of the youngest at 37.6 years, compared with 39.7 years for the UK.

Life expectancy at birth in 2008 to 2010 was 77.0 years for males and 81.4 years for females, compared with 78.1 and 82.1 years respectively for the UK.

Northern Ireland has the lowest house prices in the UK

Northern Ireland was responsible for 2% of the UK’s economic output (gross value added or GVA), the lowest share of all the English regions and countries of the UK in 2011, compared with Wales (4%) and Scotland (8%). The rate of business creation in Northern Ireland was 6.5% in 2011, the lowest rate of the UK countries and English regions, compared with 11.2% for the UK.

The average house price in Northern Ireland in June 2013 was the lowest in the UK at £130,000; this compares with Wales (£162,000), Scotland (£181,000) and England (£251,000).

In April 2012, median gross weekly earnings for full-time adult employees in Northern Ireland were £460, lower than Scotland (£498) and England (£513), and higher than Wales (£455). Gross disposable household income (GDHI) of residents was the third lowest among the UK countries and English regions at £14,000 per head in 2011, compared with £16,000 for the UK.

The economic inactivity rate in Northern Ireland in Q2 2013 was the highest among the UK countries and English regions at 28.2%, followed by the North East with 25.7% and compared with 22.3% in the UK. The employment rate stood at 66.3%, compared with the UK rate of 71.5%. Nearly one fifth (18.4%) of people aged 16 to 64 had no qualifications in 2012. This compares with 10.7% in Scotland, 11.4% in Wales and 9.5% in England.

Northern Ireland reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by 17% between the Kyoto Base Year and 2011, the smallest reduction of the UK countries; this compares with Wales (21%), and England and Scotland (both 31%).

Where can I find out more about ONS regional statistics?

These statistics were analysed by the Sub-national Reporting team at the ONS using data from a range of official statistics. If you’d like to find out more about the latest regional statistics, please see our Notes on Sources, latest tables (260.5 Kb Excel sheet) and interactive mapping and charting tool or visit our Directory of Tables page. If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d like to hear them! Please email us at

Categories: People and Places, Communities, Neighbourhoods and Communities, Business and Energy, Economy, Labour Market, Housing and Households, Housing Market, Population
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