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Almost 17% of England/Wales born abroad – a trend also accelerating here

Statistics from the 2021 Census for England and Wales provide evidence of an accelerating rate of inward migration that continues to radically alter the demographic complexion of those countries.

This is happening despite the fact that one of the reasons a majority of people voted for Brexit was to place some sort of control on immigration, particularly of those crossing the Channel with France.

The rise also occurred even with the hiatus imposed by the Covid restrictions on international travel. Despite the restrictions that lasted for virtually the entire year of 2020, more than 500,000 people entered England and Wales during that period. That figure of 545,000 represents a staggering 0.9% of the population enumerated in the Census. So far in 2022 another 40,000 people have crossed the Channel.

The Census of course does not provide an accurate picture of the numbers of illegal immigrants which was estimated by the Home Office at 430,000 in 2001. They no longer try to guess, but unofficial estimates range upwards of 800,000.

That means of course that the number of people officially designated as having been born outside of England and Wales in 2021 could be 10% greater than the 10,000,000 enumerated in the Census.  The increase in the number of people born outside of the United Kingdom currently resident in England and Wales is illustrated by the graph.



Of the current population of 59.6 million, ten million were born outside of the UK. That represents a total official percentage of 16.8%, which is an increase from 13.4% in 2011. Inward migration accounted for 57% of the overall population increase over that decade.

Some 40% of those born overseas have arrived since 2011. Just 36% of those born outside of England and Wales were born in EU countries, including over 300,000 born in Ireland – which is a decrease of almost 80,000 since 2011. The largest increase in EU born residents has been from Romania which saw an almost sixfold increase.

Immigration, as in other European countries including Ireland, is heavily concentrated on the major cities and in the case of England and Wales in the south east. London now has a population in which over 40% were born outside of the UK. By contrast, just 6.9% of the population of Wales was born outside of the UK.

The pattern of migration, particularly from outside of Europe, is similar across western Europe, and the evidence would indicate that Ireland is closely following a similar path to the neighbouring island, and in fact at an accelerated pace.

In our analysis of the preliminary results of the 2022 Census here, we noted that as in England and Wales, the bulk of the population increase recorded here since 2016 is made up of immigrants. The official estimate of the non-Irish national population here according to the headline figure from the Central Statistics Office is 13.8%.  That represents an increase from 11.6% in 2016.

However, as we pointed out, the number of those who actually designated themselves as Irish in the more detailed breakdown   of the 2016 Census only amounted to 83.5%, which would have placed the non-Irish population at over 16%, not 11.6%. That would suggest a significant underestimate by the CSO of close to 38%. Most of which is possibly accounted for by attributing Irish nationality to naturalised citizens born overseas.

If the same methodology was used in coming up with the official estimate of the ‘non Irish’ population for the 2022 Census, then it is likely that the actual number of people in the state who were born overseas is much closer to, and possibly even higher than, the 16.8% enumerated in the Census for England and Wales.

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