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Compendium of UK Statistics: Population and migration

Main comparisons: Population and Migration

This population and migration summary has been produced as part of the Compendium of UK Statistics and presents key comparable statistics for the four countries of the UK. The statistics provided are the latest comparable figures as available on 5 June 2014. The population estimates and population density figures were updated to the mid-2013 figures when they were published in June and early July. 

The full data catalogue provides web links to the statistical releases and assessments of the comparability of the statistics. The figures presented here have been assessed as fully comparable.

For more detail please see the text below the infographic and the 'find out more' page.

England's population was approximately 10 times the size of the population of Scotland in mid-2013

The population of England was 53.9 million at mid-2013, which is 84.0% of the overall UK population of 64.1 million. England's population is approximately 10 times the size of the population of Scotland (5.3 million), which accounts for 8.3% of the UK population. Wales has the third largest population at 3.1 million (or 4.8% of the UK population), whilst the population of Northern Ireland is the smallest at 1.8 million (2.9% of the UK population).

In mid-2013 the population density of England was 413 people per sq km compared with 149 people per sq km in Wales and 135 people per sq km in Northern Ireland. Scotland has the lowest population density at 68 people per sq km.

The population of the UK is projected to increase to 73.3 million by mid-20371. Over this time period, the populations of all of the four constituent countries of the UK are projected to grow, with the highest average annual growth rate in England at 0.6%, followed by Northern Ireland at a rate of 0.4%, with Scotland and Wales at a slightly slower rate of 0.3%. The proportional contribution of the constituent countries of the UK to this total figure, as outlined above, is projected to remain broadly consistent in this period.

It is projected that there will be a rise of 31% in the number of people of state pension age2 in the UK between mid-2012 and mid-2037 (taking into account future rises in the state pension age). Out of the constituent nations Northern Ireland has the highest average annual growth rate during this period (1.4%), followed by England (1.1%), Scotland (1.0%) and Wales's state pension age population is growing at the slowest average annual rate of 0.8%.

According to the 2011 Census, 21.8% (669,000) of the usually resident population of Wales were born either in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland. The majority of these (636,000) were born in England. In Scotland, 9.7% (514,000) of the usually resident population were born in one of the other three constituent nations of the UK, again with the majority (459,000) born in England. In England, 2.7% (1.4 million) of the usually resident population were born in a different country of the UK, approximately half of whom (709,000) were born in Scotland. In Northern Ireland, 4.6% (83,000) of the usually resident population were born in England, Wales or Scotland.

In 2012, 435,000 long-term international migrants arrived to live in England, which is 87% of the total 498,000 long-term immigrants to the UK. Scotland received 34,000 long-term immigrants (7% of total), 16,000 people (3% of total) immigrated to Wales and 12,000 people (2% of total) immigrated to Northern Ireland. England, Scotland and Wales had more long-term immigrants than long-term emigrants in 2012, with net migration figures of 158,000,14,000 and 8,000 respectively. By contrast, Northern Ireland had more long-term emigrants than long-term immigrants, resulting in a net outflow of 2,000.

England had the highest male and female life expectancy at birth at 79.0 years for males and 82.8 years for females in 2010-2012. Wales had the second highest life expectancy for males at 78.1 years, while life expectancy for females was 82.1 years. In Northern Ireland life expectancy at birth for females was also 82.1 years, while for males it was 77.7 years. Scotland had the lowest life expectancy at birth at 76.5 years for males and 80.7 years for females.

The total fertility rate3 in 2012 for Northern Ireland was 2.03, compared with 1.94 for England, 1.88 for Wales and 1.67 for Scotland.

83% of the population of Scotland felt that they had some Scottish national identity (either on its own or in conjunction with another national identity) in the 2011 Census. This compares to 70% of the population of England who felt that they had some English national identity and 66% of the population of Wales who felt that they had some Welsh national identity. Wales is likely to have the lowest proportion due to the higher percentage of their population born in one of the other three constituent nations of the UK. National Identity statistics for Northern Ireland are not presented here as they are not comparable with those for England, Wales and Scotland. For more information please see the full data catalogue.

Harry and Amelia were the most popular first names given to babies born in England in 2012. In Wales the most popular first names were Jacob and Amelia. Jack and Sophie were the most popular names given to boys and girls whose births were registered in Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2012.


1. These are the principal projections based on assumptions for fertility, mortality and migration considered to be the best that could be made at the time they are adopted.

2. Population projections are uncertain and become increasingly so the further they are carried forward in time. They do not attempt to predict the impact that future government policies, changing economic circumstances or other factors might have on demographic behaviour. For example, the projections of the state pension age population take into changes to the state pension age set out in the Pensions Act 2011, but do not take into account proposed future changes to the state pension age which are yet to become law. 

3. The average number of live children a group of women would each have if they experienced the age-specific fertility rates for the calendar year in question throughout their childbearing lifespan.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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