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Census gives insights into characteristics of the East of England’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 5.8 million residents in the East of England. This was an increase of some 446,000 (8 per cent) since 2001, and represents 8 per cent of the population of England and Wales. The median age of the region was 40, 1 year higher than the England and Wales average. Within the region this ranged from 31 in Cambridge to 51 in North Norfolk.

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 East of England are that:

Health and provision of unpaid care

The East of England had 17 per cent of people whose day to day activities were limited by a long term health problem or disability. This region had 10 per cent of people who provided unpaid care for someone with an illness or disability (the same percentage as for England and Wales as a whole).


Top 5 Religions

East of England, 2011, All usual residents

Rank Religion Thousands Per cent
1 Christian 3,488 59.7
2 Muslim (Islam) 148 2.5
3 Hindu 54 0.9
4 Jewish 35 0.6
5 Buddhist 22 0.4
  Total population 5,847  

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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There was a decrease of 12 percentage points in the proportion of people in the East of England who stated their religious affiliation as ‘Christian’, as in most regions in England and Wales between 2001 and 2011. In 2011, 60 per cent of residents in this region were Christian.

Hertsmere had the second largest Jewish representation (14 per cent) of all local authorities in England and Wales.

At 25 per cent, Luton had the fifth largest proportion of Muslims of all local authorities in England and Wales.

Cambridge had the ninth largest proportion of Buddhists (1 per cent) of all local authorities in England and Wales.


The East of England had the third highest proportion of homes owned outright after the South West and Wales. The region had the  second largest increase (2 per cent) in homes owned outright in England and Wales. Maldon had the  second highest increase in owned homes between 2001 and 2011 of local authorities – a growth of 6 per cent.

All regions showed a decrease in mortgaged homes in this period, with East of England seeing the largest decrease (7 per cent). Of all local authorities Luton had the largest decrease in the proportion of households with a mortgage – 11 per cent.


In the East of England 23 per cent of people aged 16 and over had no recognised qualification. This is 3 percentage points lower than the proportion with a qualification of degree level or above.

The highest proportion of people outside London with  qualifications of degree level or above was in Cambridge (47 per cent), and also in St Albans (46 per cent).

Conversely, the local authority in England and Wales with the lowest proportion of people with qualifications of degree level or above was Great Yarmouth (14 per cent).

Country of birth

Top 15 countries of birth

East of England, 2011, All usual residents

Rank Country of birth Thousands Per cent
1 England 5,062 86.6
2 Scotland 78 1.3
3 Poland 62 1.1
4 India 45 0.8
5 Ireland 44 0.7
6 Wales 44 0.7
7 United States 31 0.5
8 Pakistan 30 0.5
9 Germany 29 0.5
10 South Africa 21 0.4
11 Northern Ireland 21 0.4
12 Lithuania 17 0.3
13 Zimbabwe 16 0.3
14 Bangladesh 16 0.3
15 Italy 16 0.3
  Total Population 5,847  

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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In 2011 there were 642,000 foreign-born residents in the East of England, 11 per cent of the resident population. Luton and Cambridge had the highest proportion of foreign-born residents, with 31 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.


Top 10 ethnic groups

East of England, 2011, All usual residents

Rank Ethnic group Thousands Per cent
1 White: English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British 4,986 85.3
2 White: Other White 260 4.5
3 Asian/Asian British: Indian 87 1.5
4 Black/African/Caribbean/Black British: African 70 1.2
5 Asian/Asian British: Pakistani 66 1.1
6 Asian/Asian British: Other Asian 59 1.0
7 White: Irish 56 1.0
8 Mixed/multiple ethnic group: White and Black Caribbean 37 0.6
9 Black/African/Caribbean/Black British: Caribbean 34 0.6
10 Asian/Asian British: Chinese 34 0.6
  Total population 5,847  

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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The East of England had 91 per cent of the population declaring their ethnicity as ‘White’.

Fenland and Basildon are in the top 5 highest local authorities in England and Wales of people declaring themselves as ‘White: Gypsy/IrishTraveller’ (both 0.5 per cent).

Luton is ranked fourth highest of all local authorities in England and Wales of people declaring themselves as ‘Pakistani’ (14 per cent) and ‘Bangladeshi’ (7 per cent). It also ranked seventh highest for ‘Irish’ (3 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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