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Census result shows increase in population of London as it tops 8 million

Released: 16 July 2012 Download PDF (90.8 Kb)

The population of London on census day (27 March 2011) was 8.2 million, an increase of 12 per cent from 2001 when it was 7.3 million. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published the first results from the 2011 Census today.

London was the greatest-growing region across England and Wales, ahead of three regions that grew by 8 per cent – South East, East of England and East Midlands.

By comparison the population across the whole of England and Wales increased by 7 per cent to 56.1 million, the largest growth in population in any 10-year period since census taking began in 1801. 

Jil Matheson, National Statistician said:

"I'd like to thank everyone in London for their support. The 2011 Census has been a resounding success and I am proud of the incredible effort that has been put in. It is a rich source of information about the population and its characteristics. Across England and Wales around 19 out of 20 people responded and we have excellent statistical methods for ensuring we have a complete estimate of the whole population. These statistics will provide valuable information for planners, policy-makers and the public for years to come. "

Most local authorities in London saw their populations increase between 2001 and 2011, although there was a decrease of 2.2 per cent in Kensington and Chelsea. Across all of England and Wales 17 local authorities saw a decrease in population. The total population of England and Wales was 56.1 million, of which 53.1 million were in England.

Nine of the 20 local authorities with the fastest population growth in England and Wales were in London, and Tower Hamlets and Newham were the only authorities in England and Wales to show growth of more than 20 per cent, with the fastest growth of all being 26.4 per cent in Tower Hamlets. The largest local authority by population in London was Croydon with 363,400 people, an increase of 28,300 (8.5 per cent) between 2001 and 2011.

The smallest was the City of London, with 7,400.

The 19 most densely populated local authorities in England and Wales were in London, with Islington the most densely populated of all with 13,873 people per square kilometre, which equates to about 140 people on a rugby pitch. Bromley was the least densely populated with 2,060 people per square kilometre, which is still more than five times the average population density of England and Wales as a whole which equates to about 21 people per rugby pitch.

The local authority in London with the largest proportion of people aged 65 and over was Havering with 18 per cent; by contrast, only 6 per cent of the population in Tower Hamlets were in this age group, the lowest figure in not only London but all of England and Wales. The largest proportion of people aged 19 and under in London (and England and Wales) is in Barking and Dagenham with 31 per cent; by contrast, 11 per cent of the population of the City of London is in this age group, the smallest proportion in England and Wales.

There has been an increase of 400,000 (13 per cent) under-five-year-olds throughout England and Wales between 2001 and 2011. This was particularly pronounced in London; where there were 112,700 under-fives compared with 2001, an increase of 24 per cent. Barking and Dagenham has the highest proportion in this age group with 10 per cent, and the City of London the lowest (3 per cent).

The total number of households in London was 3.3 million. The City of London also has the smallest average household size in England and Wales, with 1.6 people. By contrast, Newham has an average household size of 3 people, the largest in England and Wales.

Glen Watson, Census Director said:

 "The whole operation has worked well. We met our targets both for response and quality. We’ve had fantastic support from the public, and also from voluntary groups, community groups and local authorities throughout England and Wales. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone involved, including the 35,000 people who worked on the data collection and helped to make the census a success."

Read the full report.

Local Authorities in London ranked by population size in 2011 Census

London 2011 population 2001 population Change 2001-2011 (per cent)
Croydon 363,400 335,100 8.4
Barnet 356,400 319,500 11.5
Ealing 338,400 307,300 10.1
Enfield 312,500 277,300 12.7
Brent 311,200 269,600 15.4
Bromley 309,400 296,200 4.5
Newham 308,000 249,400 23.5
Wandsworth 307,000 271,700 13
Lambeth 303,100 273,400 10.9
Southwark 288,300 256,700 12.3
Redbridge 279,000 241,900 15.3
Lewisham 275,900 254,300 8.5
Hillingdon 273,900 245,600 11.5
Waltham Forest 258,200 222,000 16.3
Haringey 254,900 221,300 15.2
Greenwich 254,600 217,500 17.1
Tower Hamlets 254,100 201,100 26.4
Hounslow 254,000 216,000 17.6
Hackney 246,300 207,200 18.9
Harrow 239,100 210,000 13.9
Havering 237,200 224,700 5.6
Bexley 232,000 218,800 6
Camden 220,300 202,600 8.7
Westminster 219,400 203,300 7.9
Islington 206,100 179,400 14.9
Merton 199,700 191,100 4.5
Sutton 190,100 181,500 4.7
Richmond upon Thames 187,000 174,300 7.3
Barking and Dagenham 185,900 165,700 12.2
Hammersmith and Fulham 182,500 169,400 7.7
Kingston upon Thames 160,100 149,000 7.4
Kensington and Chelsea 158,700 162,200 -2.2
City of London 7,400 7,400 0

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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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. The ‘median’ is the value halfway up an ordered list of numbers. The median age is the age that half of the population are older than and half are younger than.
  4. For the first time every census questionnaire form could be filled out and returned on-line and 16 per cent of census returns were completed on-line.
  5. The 2011 Census figures will be used to base the 2011 population mid-year estimates which are due for release in September 2012. In due course the mid-year population estimates for 2002-2010 will be rebased. 
  6. 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.
  7. The second release, due between November 2012 and February 2013, will feature more detailed statistics including national identity, ethnicity, marital and civil partnership status, and religion.
  8. The regions referred to conform to standard statistical regions.
  9. For the latest on census, follow us on Twitter@2011censusinfo
  10. Some facts about the collection of census data:
    • The 25 million 32-page (16 sheets of paper) questionnaires sent to households in England and Wales were printed at the rate of eight questionnaires per second
    • Stacked up, they would be 200 times the height of The Shard
    • Questionnaires were processed at a rate of 170,000 per day
    • Questionnaires were printed on paper from sustainable sources and 1,700 tonnes were destroyed and recycled after processing.
  11. 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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