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Video Summary: International Migrants in England and Wales

Released: 11 December 2012

Also in this release

Transcript – Census 2011 Short Story: International Migrants in England and Wales

This is a short video on international migrants. It uses data obtained on Census day 2011 for the usually resident population of England and Wales.

First we will look at the usually resident population of England and Wales and the proportion of those born outside the UK, using this graph. In 2011, 13 per cent were born abroad. This was a considerable increase from the 2001 level of 9 per cent and the 1991 level of 7 per cent.

This means that 7.5 million people living in England and Wales in 2011 were born abroad. In 2001 this was 4.6 million, and in 1991 3.6 million.

Between 2001 and 2011 the population of England and Wales rose by 4 million, of which 2.9 million were born outside the UK.  This means that over the last decade 71 per cent of the population increase in England and Wales was the result of growth in the non-UK born population.

Now we will compare the number of foreign born people in England and Wales to the rest of the European Union, using this chart. As we can see, Luxembourg had the highest proportion of foreign born at 33 per cent in 2011. In comparison England and Wales ranks between Spain and the Republic of Ireland with 13 per cent.

However England and Wales had the highest proportion of foreign born residents out of those EU countries with a population greater than 50 million. 12 per cent of people in Germany are foreign born, and the percentages for France and Italy are 11 percent and 9 percent respectively.

Next we will look at the top ten non-UK countries of birth in 2011, compared with their figures in 2001, using this chart.

The top ten countries accounted for 45 per cent of all England and Wales residents born outside the UK. The three highest ranking non-UK countries of birth were India, Poland and Pakistan. These three countries formed nearly a quarter of the foreign born resident population in 2011.

Indian born experienced an increase of 52 per cent since 2001.  The most significant change over the last decade was the rise in the Polish born population. This rose by 897 percent and in 2011 accounted for 1 per cent of the total resident population of England and Wales. Pakistani born increased by 56 per cent over the decade.

Of the top ten countries of birth there was also a large increase for Nigeria, with an increase of 120 per cent. The only decrease in the top ten was for those born in the Republic of Ireland which saw a decline of 14 per cent.

Next we look at a comparison between 2001 and 2011 for country of birth by English regions and Wales, using this chart. There has been an increase in those born abroad in all regions. The most notable is London, which continues to have the largest proportion of those born outside the UK, which equates to 37% in 2011. All other regions ranged between 5 and 12 per cent in 2011.

Next we will look at the percentage of non-UK born individuals by local areas, using this map. The highest concentrations are found in London and other areas, especially in the South East of England. 

In fact the ten local areas with the highest proportions of those born outside the UK are all London boroughs, each with over 40 per cent of their usually resident population. The 3 local areas with the highest proportion of non-UK born outside London were Slough, Leicester and Luton.

Now we will look at foreign born individual’s most recent arrival to England and Wales, using this chart. The information for this chart has been gathered from a new question in the 2011 Census.

As can be seen, half of the total foreign born usually resident population on the 2011 census day arrived between 2001 and 2011.

If we now focus on this 50% we can see a further breakdown as to when these individuals arrived over the course of the last decade.

As we can see, 40% of foreign born individuals have arrived since 2004. This was the year in which the EU was enlarged to include a number of Central and Eastern European countries, including Poland.

Next we will look at nationality by passport held, using this chart. 75.7% percent of people in England and Wales have a UK passport, 16.9% do not have a passport, 4.2 percent have a passport from a EU-27 country, and finally, 4.3% have a passport from a country classified as the rest of the world.

It is worth noting that these percentages add up to more than 100% since it is possible for an individual to acquire dual or multiple nationalities and hence would have more than 1 passport.

Finally we have two maps showing the distribution of non-UK EU passport holders on the left and the non-EU passport holders on the right.  Both show concentrations in London, university towns, particularly Oxford and Cambridge, and other urban areas.

Agricultural areas such as Boston and Peterborough feature on the EU-27 map, while the rest of the world map shows concentrations in some of the older industrial cities of the North and Midlands, including Manchester, and   Forest Heath in Suffolk, which contains a US military base, therefore accounting for the high concentration of non-EU passport holders.

This video is no longer available following the closure of the ONS YouTube channel

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. This video summary accompanies the International Migrants in England and Wales short story.
  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

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