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Census shows increase in population of the West Midlands

Released: 16 July 2012 Download PDF (89.4 Kb)

The population of the West Midlands on census day (27 March 2011) was 5.6 million, an increase of 6 per cent from 2001 when it was 5.3 million. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published the first results from the 2011 Census today.

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 the West Midlands 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. "

All local authorities in the West Midlands grew in population. The largest growth was in Rugby (14 per cent) and the smallest growth was 0.3 per cent in North Warwickshire which also had the smallest population (62,000).

Birmingham was the largest local authority by population in the whole of England and Wales with 1.1 million people, an increase of 88,000 (9 per cent) between 2001 and 2011. Birmingham is the only local authority in England and Wales with a population greater than a million.

Birmingham was also the most densely populated local authority in the region with 4,000 people per square kilometre, which equates to 40 people on a rugby pitch. The least densely populated was the County of Herefordshire, with 88 people per square kilometre.

The local authority with the largest proportion of people aged 65 and over was Malvern Hills with 24 per cent; the smallest proportion in this age group was 13 per cent in Birmingham. Birmingham also had the largest proportion of people aged 19 and under (29 per cent); the smallest proportion in this age group was 21 per cent, in Staffordshire Moorlands.

Across England and Wales there was a 13 per cent increase in the number of children under five, with over 400,000 more under fives in 2011compared with 2001. In the West Midlands there are now 36,800 more children under five compared to 2001, an increase of 12 per cent. Birmingham has the largest proportion of under fives (8 per cent), with the smallest proportion in Malvern Hills (4 per cent).

The total number of households in the West Midlands was 2.3 million. Birmingham had the largest average household size in the region, with 2.6 people, and Malvern Hills the smallest (2.2).

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 West Midlands ranked by population size in 2011 Census

West Midlands 2011 population 2001 population Change 2001-2011 (per cent)
Birmingham 1,073,000 984,600 9
Coventry 318,600 302,800 5.2
Dudley 312,900 305,100 2.6
Sandwell 308,100 284,600 8.3
Shropshire 306,100 283,300 8
Walsall 269,300 253,300 6.3
Wolverhampton 249,500 238,000 4.8
Stoke-on-Trent 249,000 240,400 3.6
Solihull 206,700 199,600 3.6
Herefordshire, County of 183,500 174,900 4.9
Telford and Wrekin 166,600 158,600 5
Warwick 136,000 126,100 7.9
Stafford 130,800 120,700 8.4
Nuneaton and Bedworth 125,300 119,200 5.1
Newcastle-under-Lyme 123,900 122,000 1.6
Stratford-on-Avon 120,500 111,600 8
Wychavon 116,900 113,100 3.4
East Staffordshire 113,600 103,900 9.3
South Staffordshire 108,100 105,900 2.1
Lichfield 100,700 93,200 8
Rugby 100,100 87,500 14.4
Worcester 98,800 93,400 5.8
Wyre Forest 98,000 96,900 1.1
Cannock Chase 97,500 92,200 5.7
Staffordshire Moorlands 97,100 94,600 2.6
Bromsgrove 93,600 87,900 6.5
Redditch 84,200 78,800 6.9
Tamworth 76,800 74,600 2.9
Malvern Hills 74,600 72,200 3.3
North Warwickshire 62,000 61,800 0.3

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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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