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Census gives insights into characteristics of the West Midlands’ 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 5.6 million residents in the West Midlands.  This was an increase of some 321,000 (6 per cent) since 2001, and represents 10 per cent of the population of England and Wales

The median age of the region was 39, the same as the England and Wales average. Within the region this ranged from 32 in Birmingham to 47 in Malvern Hills.

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 West Midlands are:


Top 5 religions

West Midlands, 2011, All usual residents

Rank Religion Thousands Per cent
1 Christian 3,373 60.2
2 Muslim (Islam) 376 6.7
3 Sikh 134 2.4
4 Hindu 72 1.3
5 Buddhist 17 0.3
  Total population 5,602  

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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There was a decrease of 12 percentage points between 2001 and 2011 in the proportion of West Midlands people who stated their religious affiliation was Christian. In 2011 this group comprised 60 per cent of residents in this region. 

The West Midlands had the largest proportion of Sikhs (2 per cent) in England and Wales.

Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Coventry were in the top 10 local authorities in England and Wales with the largest representation of Sikhs, at 9 per cent, 9 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.

Birmingham’s proportion of Muslims was, at 22 per cent, the ninth largest of all local authorities in England and Wales.


Top 10 ethnic groups

West Midlands, 2011, All usual residents

Rank Ethnic group Thousands Per cent
1 White: English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British 4,434 79.2
2 Asian/Asian British: Pakistani 227 4.1
3 Asian/Asian British: Indian 218 3.9
4 White: Other White 139 2.5
5 Black/African/Caribbean/Black British: Caribbean 87 1.5
6 Asian/Asian British: Other Asian 75 1.3
7 Mixed/multiple ethnic group: White and Black Caribbean 69 1.2
8 Black/African/Caribbean/Black British: African 64 1.1
9 White: Irish 55 1.0
10 Asian/Asian British: Bangladeshi 52 0.9
  Total population 5,602  

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Staffordshire Moorlands had the third highest proportion of ‘White: English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British’ people in England and Wales – 97 per cent.

In the West Midlands people identifying themselves as ‘Pakistani’ increased by over 1 per cent to 4 per cent. Birmingham has the fifth  largest Pakistani population in England and Wales – 14 per cent.


The West Midlands had the highest proportion of people aged 16 and over with no recognised qualification: at 27 per cent this was 4 percentage points higher than the proportion with a qualification of degree level or above.

Three of the top 10 local authorities in England and Wales with the highest proportion of people with no recognised qualification were in the West Midlands: Sandwell, Stoke-on-Trent and Walsall, Sandwell had the second highest proportion (35 per cent) of the population aged 16 and over with no recognised qualifications in England and Wales.

Passports and country of birth

Top 15 countries of birth

West Midlands, 2011, All usual residents

Rank Country of birth Thousands Per cent
1 England 4,823 86.1
2 India 100 1.8
3 Pakistan 89 1.6
4 Wales 77 1.4
5 Poland 52 0.9
6 Scotland 52 0.9
7 Ireland 42 0.8
8 Jamaica 29 0.5
9 Bangladesh 22 0.4
10 Northern Ireland 19 0.3
11 Germany 18 0.3
12 China 14 0.2
13 Zimbabwe 12 0.2
14 Kenya 11 0.2
15 Somalia 10 0.2
  Total population 5,602  

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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In 2011 there were 630,000 foreign-born residents in the West Midlands, 11 per cent of the resident population.

The 10 areas in England and Wales with the lowest percentages of foreign-born residents included Staffordshire Moorlands and Cannock Chase, at slightly more than 2 per cent each.

The West Midlands also had 3 of the 10 areas in England and Wales with the lowest proportion of people holding non-UK passports: South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase and Staffordshire Moorlands all recorded slightly more than 1 per cent.

Health and provision of unpaid care

The West Midlands had 19 per cent of people whose day to day activities were limited by a long term health problem or disability. This region had 11 per cent of people who provided unpaid care for someone with an illness or disability.

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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