Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Changing Britain

 (AFP Report)

LONDON: The population of England and Wales swelled between 2001 and 2011 after an influx of 2.9 million people born abroad, while the number of Christians plunged, according to census data published Tuesday.

The figures from the March 2011 census paint a picture of a changing population, with more foreign-born residents and fewer people of faith.

The population of England and Wales was 56.1 million, an increase of 3.7 million or seven per cent since 2001.

The number of foreign-born residents rose by 63 per cent from 4.6 million in 2001 to 7.5 million a decade later. They now account for 13 per cent of the population, up from nine.

White Britons now make up 80 per cent of the population, at 45.1 million people, down from 87 per cent in 2001. Some 2.5 per cent are ethnic Indian, 2.0 per cent ethnic Pakistani.

Indians accounted for the biggest number of those born abroad, rising 52 per cent to 694,000.

The number of Poles saw a 10-fold increase from 58,000 in 2001 to 579,000 last year and they now make up one per cent of the population.

The Pakistani-born population rose by 56 per cent to 482,000. Ireland, Germany, Bangladesh, Nigeria, South Africa, the United States and Jamaica made up the rest of the top 10.

Forty per cent of all foreign-born individuals arrived since 2004, when the European Union expanded to include eastern European countries.

Foreign-born women have a higher birth rate and the percentage of total births to non-UK-born mothers rose from 18.3 per cent in 2004 to 24.3 per cent in 2011.

"These statistics paint a picture of society and help us all plan for the future using accurate information at a local level," said census director Guy Goodwin from the Office for National Statistics.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg of census statistics," he added.

The percentage who identified themselves as Christian dropped from 72 per cent to 59 per cent, while atheists rose from 15 per cent to a quarter of the population.

The fastest-growing religion was Islam, which increased by 75 per cent in 10 years to 2.7 million adherents, or 4.8 per cent of the population.

Some 1.5 per cent of the population said they were Hindus, while 0.8 per cent said they were Sikhs.

In London, white Britons are no longer the majority. They now account for 3.7 million Londoners, or 44.9 percent of the capital's population.

Other whites account for 14.8 percent of Londoners. Asians make up 16.9 per cent, while people who identified themselves as black account for 11.2 per cent.

Some 61.1 per cent of London residents were born in England, followed by 3.2 per cent born in India, 1.9 per cent in Poland and 1.6 per cent in Ireland.

Twenty-six per cent (848,000) of London households contained a resident whose main language was not English.

The percentage of married people dropped below 50 per cent, from 50.9 to 46.6, while the percentage of people divorced rose from 8.2 to 9.0 per cent.

The wealth held by the richest 10 per cent of households accounted for 44 per cent of overall wealth. The entry bar was £967,000. That held by the poorest 50 per cent of households accounted for 10 per cent.

Among the more curious statistics, around 177,000 people claimed to follow the Jedi religion from the Star Wars films. Some 6,242 identified their religion as heavy metal, while 1,893 claimed to be Satanists.

Despite having two cathedrals and more medieval churches than anywhere north of the Alps, some 42.5 per cent of people in Norwich, eastern England, said they had no religion, the highest proportion in the census.

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