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Census gives insights into characteristics of the North East’s population

Released: 11 December 2012 Download PDF

Statistics published today from the 2011 Census reveal the changing characteristics of the population in every region of England and Wales and the 348 local authorities that form them. These statistics cover topics such as ethnicity, religion, country of birth, health, accommodation, tenure, and availability of cars and vans. Further details are given in the Statistical Bulletin and accompanying tables.

This release supplements the figures published in July 2012, which put the total population of England and Wales on census day (27 March 2011) at 56.1 million – an increase of 3.7 million (7 per cent) since 2001.

There were 2.6 million residents in the North East. This is an increase of some 57,000 (2 per cent) since 2001, and represents 5 per cent of the population of England and Wales.

The median age of the region was 41, 2 years higher than the England and Wales average. Within the region this ranged from 33 in Newcastle upon Tyne to 45 in Northumberland.

Guy Goodwin, ONS’s Director of Census, said:

“These statistics paint a picture of society and help us all plan for the future using accurate information at a local level.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg of census statistics. Further rich layers of vital information will be revealed as we publish more detailed data for very local levels over the coming months.”

Some headline facts of life in the North East are that:

Country of birth

Top 15 countries of birth

North East, 2011, All usual residents

Rank Country of birth Thousands Per cent
1 England 2,404 92.6
2 Scotland 46 1.8
3 India 10 0.4
4 Germany 10 0.4
5 Northern Ireland 9 0.4
6 Wales 9 0.3
7 Poland 9 0.3
8 Pakistan 8 0.3
9 China 7 0.3
10 Ireland 6 0.2
11 Bangladesh 5 0.2
12 South Africa 4 0.1
13 Philippines 3 0.1
14 Hong Kong 3 0.1
15 Iran 3 0.1
  Total population 2,597  

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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In 2011 there were 129,000 foreign-born residents in the North East, 5 per cent of the population. Newcastle upon Tyne had the highest proportion of foreign-born residents, with 13 per cent.

The North East showed the smallest increase in the population of foreign-born residents (2 per cent) and remains the region with the lowest proportion of foreign-born residents (5 per cent).


Top 10 ethnic groups

North East, 2011, All usual residents

Rank Ethnic group Thousands Per cent
1 White: English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British 2,431 93.6
2 White: Other White 34 1.3
3 Asian/Asian British: Pakistani 20 0.8
4 Asian/Asian British: Indian 16 0.6
5 Asian/Asian British: Chinese 14 0.6
6 Asian/Asian British: Other Asian 14 0.5
7 Black/African/Caribbean/Black British: African 11 0.4
8 Asian/Asian British: Bangladeshi 11 0.4
9 White: Irish 8 0.3
10 Mixed/multiple ethnic group: White and Asian 8 0.3
  Total population 2,597  

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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The North East had 95 per cent of its population declaring their ethnicity as ‘White’; 94 per cent were ‘White: English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British’.

Redcar and Cleveland was the local authority with the highest proportion of ‘White British’ residents (98 per cent) in England and Wales.

The North East was the region with the lowest proportion of those identifying themselves as ‘Mixed/Multiple ethnic group’ (1 per cent) or ‘Black/African/Caribbean/Black British’ (0.4 per cent).


Top 5 religions

North East, 2011, All usual residents

Rank Religion Thousands Per cent
1 Christian 1,753 67.5
2 Muslim (Islam) 47 1.8
3 Hindu 8 0.3
4 Buddhist 6 0.2
5 Sikh 6 0.2
  Total population 2,597  

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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There was a decrease of 13 percentage points in the North East in the proportion of people who stated their religious affiliation as ‘Christian’ (as in most regions in England and Wales between 2001 and 2011). In 2011 the North East had the highest proportion of Christians of all regions in England and Wales (68 per cent), and the lowest proportion of Buddhists and Hindus (0.2 and 0.3 per cent respectively). 

Health and provision of unpaid care

The North East had 22 per cent of people whose day to day activities were limited by a long term health problem or disability (18 per cent for England and Wales as a whole). This region had 11 per cent of its people providing unpaid care for someone with an illness or disability (10 per cent for England and Wales as a whole).

In 2011 the North East had the lowest proportion of people rating their health as ‘Very good’ or ‘Good’ (77 per cent).


The North East had the highest proportion of people aged 16 and above showing an apprenticeship as their highest level of qualification (5 per cent).  South Tyneside was the local authority with the second highest proportion of this group in England and Wales (at 6 per cent).

Car or van availability

The North East showed the biggest decrease in the number of households with no car or van, reducing from 36 per cent in 2001 to 32 per cent in 2011.  Gateshead showed the largest decrease amongst local authorities, from 43 per cent to 37 per cent.

In 2001 the North East had fewer cars and vans than it had households; this was no longer the case in 2011.


The North East (29 per cent) has the second lowest proportion of homes owned outright after London (21 per cent) despite having the largest increase in homes owned outright (3 percentage points).

The proportion of households owning a home with a mortgage or loan had decreased in England and Wales as a whole, although the North East region decreased the least (by 5 percentage points).

In 2011, the North East had the highest proportion of socially rented accommodation (15 per cent).

For further information:

Media Line:  01329 447654  


Visit: for more detailed analysis and information


Data visualisation: 

Use this link to access interactive maps on topics such as Religion, Car ownership, Ethnicity, Dwelling type, Tenure, Year of arrival and Health. They can be embedded/used in websites using the code supplied in the maps. The maps can 'deeplink' into specific views of the data (ie a specific area and/or variable selection). Some maps are split screen, allowing graphical comparisons of 2001 with 2011 changes. 

Background notes

  1. The census provides the most accurate estimate possible for the population of England and Wales and has been carried out every 10 years since 1801, apart from 1941, by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The information provided to ONS is used solely for the census, is anonymised and protected for 100 years. Census day was on 27 March 2011. All census population numbers refer to that day.
  2. Government uses the census statistics to allocate funding for services such as education, transport and health. Policy makers in central and local government use the census to identify the needs of different communities and they are also used by commercial enterprises. It also provides the benchmark for future population estimates and for sample surveys.
  3. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
  4. The regions referred to conform to standard statistical regions. It is not possible to compare data for some geographies between 2011 and 2001 because of local authority reorganisation in this period.
  5. The next release of census data is scheduled for 30 January 2013.This will give Key and Quick Statistics tables at output area, wards parish and parliamentary constituency geographies. These will be accompanied by a statistical bulletin and census analysis. By the end of February 2013 Key and Quick Statistics for the remaining geographies such as National Parks will be published. Further information about each of the existing and planned census outputs is available via an online prospectus as:
  6. Census results are set out in tables under Key statistics and Quick statistics. Key statistics provide summary figures that cover the full range of results from the census. They are presented in a tabular format, with figures as both numbers and percentages, to allow comparison across different areas. Quick statistics contain data which refer to one variable and its response categories from a census question. Because of this, cross-tabulation is not possible at this stage.
  7. The main population base for outputs from the 2011 Census is the usual resident population as at census day 27 March 2011. A ‘usual resident’ of the UK is anyone who, on census day, was in the UK and had stayed or intended to stay in the UK for a period of 12 months or more, or had a permanent UK address and was outside the UK and intended to be outside the UK for less than 12 months.
  8. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

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