UK: 1 in 6 residents in England and Wales are first generation foreign nationals, migration accounts for majority of population increase

By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

More than one in six people living in England and Wales are first generation foreign nationals, and migration accounted for the majority of the country’s 3.5 million population increase since 2011, according to the latest census data.

The survey, conducted last year, revealed that the increase in the population of England and Wales was 59,597,542, up from 56,075,912 in March 2011.

The census attributes 42.5 percent of the population rise to a natural population increase — that is, the number of babies born subtracted by the number of deaths — and 57.5 percent to positive net migration which amounted to two million people.

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Foreign nationals now account for 10 million of the countries’ 59.5 million population. In addition, nearly one out of every three babies born in the U.K. has a foreign-born mother.

The largest number of non-U.K. born residents come from India, which has increased from 694,000 in 2011 to 920,000 in 2021, comprising 1.5 percent of the U.K. population.

Polish nationals increased to 743,000 from 579,000 in 2011, and Pakistan nationals increased to 624,000 from 482,000, making up 1 percent of the population.

The largest percentage rise was attributed to Romanian nationals who increased by 576 percent from 80,000 in 2011 to 539,000 in 2021.

The highest percentage of foreign-born residents are located in London, where more than four in 10 people are foreign-born (40.6 percent). This has increased from 36.7 percent compared to the last census conducted in 2011.

On the contrary, Wales and the northeast of England had the lowest proportion of foreign-born nationals at 6.9 and 6.8 percent respectively.

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Of the top 20 local authorities with the highest proportion of foreign nationals, 18 were in London, including Brent (56.1 percent), Westminster (55.6 percent), and Kensington and Chelsea (53.9 percent). The other two local authorities in the top 20 were Slough (44 percent) and Leicester (41.1 percent).

Almost one in three residents of Manchester are foreign-born (31 percent) while the number of foreign nationals residing in the Welsh capital of Cardiff is currently 17 percent.

By contrast, towns in the north of England such as Copeland and Redcar have a foreign-born population of just 3 percent, as does the Welsh town of Caerphilly.

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