Demography of the United Kingdom
The population of the UK reached 68.2 million. It is the 21st most populated country in the world. It has a population density of 259 people per square kilometre (671 people per square mile), with England having significantly greater density than Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Almost a third of the population lives in England's southeast, which is predominantly urban and suburban, with about 9,000,000 in the capital city, London, whose population density is just over 5,200 per square kilometre (13,468 per sq mi).
|Demographics of United Kingdom|
|Density||259/km2 (670/sq mi) (2011 census)|
|Birth rate||11.0 per 1000 (2018)|
|Death rate||9.3 per 1000 (2018)|
|Life expectancy||81 years (2010–2015)|
|Fertility rate||1.65 (2019)|
The population of the United Kingdom has undergone demographic transition—that is, the transition from a (typically) pre-industrial population, with high birth and mortality rates and slow population growth, through a stage of falling mortality and faster rates of population growth, to a stage of low birth and mortality rates with, again, lower rates of growth. This growth through 'natural change' has been accompanied in the past two decades by growth through net migration into the United Kingdom, which since 1999 has exceeded natural change.
The United Kingdom's high literacy rate (99% at age 15 and above) is attributable to universal state education, introduced at the primary level in 1870 (Scotland 1872, free 1890) and at the secondary level in 1900. Parents are obliged to have their children educated from the ages of 5 to 16 years (18 in England as of 2013), and can continue education free of charge in the form of A-Levels, vocational training, and apprenticeship until the age of 18.
The Church of England and the Church of Scotland are the national churches in their respective countries (Wales has had no established church since disestablishment (1920)), and all the major religions found in the world are represented in the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom's population is predominantly White British. United kingdom has historically been populated by invasions and occupation (including Roman occupation for several centuries) and migrations from the European continent, especially from Scandinavia. British people were therefore thought to be descended mainly from the different ethnic stocks that settled there before the 11th century: pre-Celtic, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Viking, and Norman. Modern genetic testing has revealed the complexity of the British gene pool; recent studies have suggested that the prehistoric Bell Beaker influx and the Anglo-Saxon migrations have had most effects on the genetic makeup of modern Britons.
The main language of the country is English. Some Celtic languages are still spoken in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and has been revived to a limited degree in Cornwall; but the predominant language in these areas is English. Welsh is widely spoken as the first language in North and West Wales, and to lesser extent in the South East Wales, where English is the dominant first language.
Roman Britain had an estimated population between 2.8 million and 3 million at the end of the second century CE. At the end of the fourth century, it had an estimated population of 3.6 million, of whom 125,000 consisted of the Roman army and their families and dependents. The urban population of Roman Britain was about 240,000 people at the end of the fourth century. Roman Britain's capital city, Londinium, is estimated to have had a population of about 60,000. Londinium was a diverse city, with inhabitants from across the Roman Empire, including natives of Britannia and Romans who were raised in continental Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. There was also cultural diversity in other Roman-British towns, which were sustained by considerable colonial migration, both within Britannia and from other Roman territories, including North Africa, Roman Syria, the Eastern Mediterranean, and continental Europe.
Following the Roman withdrawal from Britain, Germanic tribes from continental Europe such as the Angles, Saxons and Jutes began a period of significant migration to the southeastern part of the island, notably bringing their language, Old English. Nevertheless, the overall population is believed to have fallen precipitously due to political upheavals and plagues. By the time of the compilation of the Domesday Book in the eleventh century, there may have between 1.25 and 2 million people living in England. Though the Domesday Book did not count the English population, it has been regarded as one of the first attempts to produce a census of the country.
During the Industrial Revolution, child mortality decreased dramatically. The proportion of children born in London who died before the age of five decreased from 74.5 per thousand in 1730–1749 to 31.8 per thousand in 1810–1829. According to Robert Hughes in The Fatal Shore, the population of England and Wales, which had remained steady at 6 million from 1700 to 1740, rose dramatically after 1740. The first Census in 1801 revealed that the population of Great Britain was 10.5 million. Ireland had in 1800 between 4.5 and 5.5 million inhabitants. The 1841 UK Census counted for England and Wales 15.9 million, for Ireland 8.2 million.1 Scotland was 2.6 million. And also in the second half of the 19e century the population of England kept growing fast from 16.8 million in 1851 to 30.5 million in 1901.
The Great Irish Famine, which began in the 1840s, caused the deaths of one million Irish people, and caused well over a million to emigrate. Mass emigration became entrenched as a result of the famine, and the population continued to decline until the mid-20th century. Ireland's population decreased rapidly, from 8.2 million in 1841 to less than 4.5 million in 1901.
The British Office for National Statistics' 2016-based National Population Projections indicated that, if recent trends continue, the UK's population would increase by 3.6 million between mid-2016 and mid-2026. This represents an average annual growth rate of 0.5%. Over the same period, the population of England is projected to grow by 5.9%; for Wales, this figure is 3.1%, while for Scotland and Northern Ireland the figures are 3.2% and 4.2% respectively. These projections did not allow for any possible effects of the UK leaving the European Union.
There are 13 urban areas that exceed 500,000 inhabitants: they are centred on London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds and Bradford, Southampton and Portsmouth, Sheffield, Liverpool, Leicester, Manchester, Belfast, Bristol, Newcastle upon Tyne and Nottingham.
The population of the UK in the 2011 census was 63 million, of whom 31 million were male and 32 million female. The 2011 census recorded the population of England as 53.0 million, Scotland as 5.3 million, Wales as 3.1 million, and Northern Ireland as 1.8 million.
|Percentage of total
density (per km2)
Population change over time
The following table shows the total UK population estimated at census dates. Pre 1901 figures include the whole of Ireland, whereas from 1901 onwards only the population of Northern Ireland is included.
* and possibly other changes
Population density calculated on:
- Pre-1901: 243,820 km2 total land area for the United Kingdom plus 70,273 km2 land area of the Republic of Ireland.
- Post-1901: its current boundaries.
Total fertility rate (1552–1899)
The total fertility rate is the number of children born per woman. It is based on fairly good data for the entire period. Sources: Our World In Data and Gapminder Foundation. Note: To see every year from 1552 see the reference link.
|Total Fertility Rate||5.12||4.78||4.7||5.31||4.64||4.48||4.62||4.25||4.47||4.63||4.79||4.47||4.51||4.78||4.35||4.45||4.71||3.49|
|Total Fertility Rate||3.83||4.1||3.97||3.75||3.97||4.29||4.37||4.39||4.37||3.79||4.25||4.16||4.51||4.28||4.94||4.58||4.73||4.64|
|Total Fertility Rate||4.56||4.81||4.98||4.96||4.9||5.09||5.35||5.21||5.4||5.11||4.97|
|Total Fertility Rate||4.6||5.3||5.61||5.65||5.55||5.49||5.45||5.4||5.24||5.36|
|Total Fertility Rate||5.43||5.31||5.45||5.46||6.02||5.73||5.69||5.54||5.45||5.4|
|Total Fertility Rate||5.55||5.69||5.54||5.42||5.38||5.36||5.07||5.23||4.85||4.83|
|Total Fertility Rate||4.78||4.78||5||4.89||4.83||4.86||4.79||4.78||4.93||4.9|
|Total Fertility Rate||4.89||4.83||4.82||4.83||4.75||4.9||4.58||4.71||4.78||4.85|
|Total Fertility Rate||4.94||4.94||4.78||4.89||4.85||4.94||4.9||4.79||4.97||4.86|
|Total Fertility Rate||4.88||4.92||4.94||4.96||4.94||4.92||4.94||4.97||4.82||4.88|
|Total Fertility Rate||4.85||4.89||4.94||4.93||4.92||4.9||4.89||4.88||4.81||4.75|
|Total Fertility Rate||4.68||4.62||4.55||4.47||4.39||4.32||4.24||4.16||4.11||4.06|
|Total Fertility Rate||4||3.95||3.9||3.84||3.79||3.73||3.68||3.62||3.58|
Vital statistics (1900–2019)
Current vital statistics
Number of births:
- From January-September 2019 = 536,894
- From January-September 2020 = 513,208
Number of deaths:
- From January-September 2019 = 446,108
- From January-September 2020 = 513,986
- From January-September 2019 = +90,786
- From January-September 2020 = -778
Life expectancy (1543–1950)
Sources: Our World In Data and the United Nations.
The key features of the age distribution profile for the British population, as measured in the 2011 Census, were summarised in December 2012 by the Office for National Statistics in terms of peaks and wide bands of the pyramid reflecting high numbers of births in previous years, particularly for people aged 60–64 born following the Second World War and those aged 40–49, born during the 1960s baby boom. There is a smaller number of children aged five to nine years than ten years ago, which is a consequence of low numbers of births at the beginning of the 21st century, and the broadening of the pyramid in the 0–4 years category is due to higher numbers of births in recent years. At higher ages, females outnumber males, reflecting the higher life expectancy of females. At lower ages, there are more males than females, reflecting that there are slightly more boys than girls born each year.
In 2015, there were estimated to be over half a million people (556,270) aged 90 and over living in the UK, up from 194,670 people in 1985, and there were estimated to be 14,570 centenarians (people aged 100 or over) and 850 people aged 105 or over.
The Office for National Statistics' 2016-based National Population Projections suggest that the British population will continue to age, with the number of people aged 85 and over doubling from 1.6 million in mid-2016 to 3.2 million in mid-2041.
|0–15 years (%)||24.5||20.5||18.9|
|16–64 years (%)||61.2||64.1||63.1|
|65 years and over (%)||14.2||15.4||18.0|
|Age group||Population||Percentage (%)|
In 2012, the UK's total fertility rate (TFR) was 1.92 children per woman, below the replacement rate, which in the UK is 2.075. In 2001, the TFR was at a record low of 1.63, but it then increased every year until it reached a peak of 1.96 in 2008, before decreasing again. The TFR was considerably higher during the 1960s 'baby boom', peaking at 2.95 children per woman in 1964. In 2012 and 2013, England and Wales's TFR decreased to 1.85. In Scotland however TFR is lower: it decreased from 1.75 in 2010 to 1.67 in 2012. Northern Ireland has the highest TFR in the UK, standing at 2.02 in 2010 and 2.03 in 2012.
In 2014, 27% of births were to mothers born outside the UK, a 0.5 point increase since 2013. The 2014 fertility rate was higher for foreign-born mothers (2.09) than British-born mothers (1.76). In the 2010–14 time period, the most common countries of birth for mothers (excluding the UK) were Poland, Pakistan and India; and Poland and India for fathers. Within the UK, Newham, London had the highest rate of births to non-UK mothers (76.7%) and Torfaen, Wales the lowest (3.2%).
|Country of birth||Births||TFR|
Death rate and cause
|First cause||Second cause|
|Male||Ischaemic heart disease||Dementia and Alzheimer's disease|
|Female||Dementia and Alzheimer's disease||Ischaemic heart disease|
|First cause||Second cause|
|Male||Ischaemic heart disease (~15.4%)||Malignant neoplasms of trachea, bronchus and lungs (lung cancer)|
|Female||Dementia and Alzheimer's disease (~12.2%)||Ischaemic heart disease|
(Percentiles are rounded where given)
Other demographics statistics
- One birth every 39 seconds
- One death every 52 seconds
- Net gain of one person every minute
- One net migrant every 3 minutes
- England 55,268,100
- Scotland 5,404,700
- Wales 3,113,200
- Northern Ireland 1,862,100
- Age structure
- 0–14 years: 17.59% (male 5,871,268 /female 5,582,107)
- 15–24 years: 11.71% (male 3,895,850 /female 3,726,311)
- 25–54 years: 40.29% (male 13,387,119 /female 12,843,549)
- 55–64 years: 12.22% (male 3,936,466 /female 4,022,245)
- 65 years and over: 18.19% (male 5,321,392 /female 6,518,939) (2018 est.)
- 0–14 years: 17.53% (male 5,819,363/female 5,532,123)
- 15–24 years: 11.9% (male 3,938,643/female 3,770,511)
- 25–54 years: 40.55% (male 13,387,903/female 12,873,090)
- 55–64 years: 11.98% (male 3,843,268/female 3,918,244)
- 65 years and over: 18.04% (male 5,246,475/female 6,439,832) (2017 est.)
- Median age
- total: 40.5 years. Country comparison to the world: 48th
- male: 39.3 years
- female: 41.7 years (2018 est.)
- total: 40.5 years
- male: 39.3 years
- female: 41.7 years (2017 est.)
- Birth rate
- 12 births/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 167th
- 12.1 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
- Death rate
- 9.4 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 53rd
- Total fertility rate
- 1.88 children born/woman (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 137th
- Population growth rate
- 0.51% (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 154th
- 0.52% (2017 est.)
- Ethnic groups
white 87.2%, black/African/Caribbean/black British 3%, Asian/Asian British: Indian 2.3%, Asian/Asian British: Pakistani 1.9%, mixed 2%, other 3.7% (2011 est.)
- Net migration rate
- 2.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.) Country comparison to the world: 37th
- Mother's mean age at first birth
- 28.5 years
- note: data represent England and Wales only (2014 est.)
- Life expectancy at birth
- total population: 80.8 years
- male: 78.6 years
- female: 83.1 years (2017 est.) Country comparison to the world: 35th
Christian (includes Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist) 59.5%, Muslim 4.4%, Hindu 1.3%, other 2%, unspecified 7.2%, none 25.7% (2011 est.)
- urban population: 83.4% of total population (2018)
- rate of urbanization: 0.89% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
- Dependency ratios
- total dependency ratio: 55.5
- youth dependency ratio: 27.4
- elderly dependency ratio: 28.2
- potential support ratio: 3.5 (2015 est.)
- Infant mortality rate
- total: 4.3 deaths/1,000 live births
- male: 4.7 deaths/1,000 live births
- female: 3.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2017 est.) Country comparison to the world: 185
- Sex ratio
- at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
- 0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
- 15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
- 25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
- 55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
- total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
- School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
- total: 18 years
- male: 17 years
- female: 18 years (2014)
- Unemployment, youth ages 15–24
- total: 14.6% Country comparison to the world: 91st
- male: 16.2%
- female: 12.9% (2015 est.)
There are known difficulties in producing reliable estimates of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population.
- 1.1 per cent (approximately 545,000 adults at the time of the survey) identify as gay or lesbian.
- 0.4 per cent (approximately 220,000 adults) identify as bisexual.
- 0.3 per cent identify as "other".
- 3.6 per cent of those surveyed replied "don't know" or refused to answer the question.
- 0.6 per cent of those surveyed provided "no response" to the question.
- An estimated 2.7 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds in the UK identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual compared with 0.4 per cent of those aged over 65.
Other sources provide alternative estimates of the population by sexual orientation. For example, one British journal published in 2004 estimated that approximately 5% of the British population is gay. A government figure estimated in 2005 that there are 3.6 million gay people in Britain equating to 6 per cent of the population, though a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission described that estimate as 'of questionable validity' when set against available survey estimates.
The Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) estimated in 2009 that "56,000 might potentially be transsexual people", noting that it is very difficult to make a reliable estimate. This would be 0.09% of the population at the time.
Immigration and Ethnicity
The United Kingdom is an ethnically diverse society and with a fast growing migration. In 2011 8 million people in the UK were from ethnic minorities which 4,3 million are from Asian or British Asian 1,9 million are Black or Black British and 1,2 million are from mixed ethnicity. The foreign-born population increased from about 5.3 million in 2004 to nearly 9.3 million in 2018 or 14% of the total population.
|Rank||Country of birth||Population|
The United Kingdom is an ethnically diverse society and with a fast growing migration. In 2011 8 million people in the UK were from ethnic minorities which 4,3 million are from Asian or British Asian 1,9 million are Black or Black British and 1,2 million are from mixed etnicity. The foreign-born population increased from about 5.3 million in 2004 to nearly 9.3 million in 2018 or 14% of the total population.
|Ethnic group||2001 Census||2011 Census||2016 Estimates|
|White: Irish Traveller||63,193||0.10%|
|Asian or Asian British: Total||2,578,826||4.39%||4,373,339||6.92%||4,722,000||7.19%|
|Asian or Asian British: Indian||1,053,411||1.79%||1,451,862||2.30%|
|Asian or Asian British: Pakistani||747,285||1.27%||1,174,983||1.86%|
|Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi||283,063||0.48%||451,529||0.71%|
|Asian or Asian British: Chinese||247,403||0.42%||433,150||0.69%|
|Asian or Asian British: Asian Other||247,664||0.42%||861,815||1.36%|
|Black or Black British||1,148,738||1.95%||1,904,684||3.01%||2,065,000||3.15%|
- In 2001, listed under the "Other ethnic group" heading.
- For the purpose of harmonising results to make them comparable across the UK, the ONS includes individuals in Scotland who classified themselves in the "African" category (29,638 people), which in the Scottish version of the census is separate from "Caribbean or Black" (6,540 people), in this "Black or Black British" category. The ONS note that "the African categories used in Scotland could potentially capture White/Asian/Other African in addition to Black identities".
The traditional religion in the United Kingdom is Christianity. In England the established church is the Church of England (Anglican). In Scotland, the Church of Scotland (a Presbyterian Church) is regarded as the 'national church' but there is not an established church.
In Wales there is no established church, with the Church in Wales having been disestablished in 1920. Likewise, in Ireland, the Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1871. In Northern Ireland and similarly in parts of Scotland as in England, especially, there is a degree of sectarian divide between Roman Catholic and Protestant communities.
The table below shows data regarding religion for the 2001 and 2011 censuses:
|Religion not stated||4,528,323||7.17%|
|(No religion and Religion not stated)||13,626,299||23.18%||20,749,832||32.84%|
In the 2011 Census, rather than select one of the specified religions offered on the Census form, many people chose to write in their own religion. Some of these religions were reassigned to one of the main religions offered. In England and Wales, 241,000 people belonged to religious groups which did not fall into any of the main religions. The largest of these were Pagans (56,620), Spiritualists (39,061) and Jainists (20,288). Despite its high-profile nature there were only 2,418 Scientologists. The census also recorded 176,632 people stating their religion as Jedi Knight and 6,242 people as Heavy Metal after a campaign by Metal Hammer. These returns were classified as "No religion", along with Atheist, Agnostic, Humanist, and Free Thinker. Those who ticked Heathen who had been categorised as no religion in 2001 were categorised as other. It is unclear how the ONS treated people who ticked "Other" but did not write in any religion.
In 2012 the British Social Attitudes Survey found the highest number to be non-religious (48%) followed by Christians (46%) with another six per cent identifying otherwise. Discrepancies found between surveys may be the result of differences in phrasing, question order, and data collection method.
The United Kingdom's de facto official language is English which is spoken as a first language by 95% of the population. Six regional languages—Scots, Ulster-Scots, Welsh, Cornish, Irish and Scottish Gaelic—are protected under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Abilities in these languages (other than Cornish) for those aged three and above were recorded in the census of 2011 as follows.
|Understands but does not speak, read or write||157,792||5.15%||23,357||0.46%||267,412||5.22%||70,501||4.06%||92,040||5.30%|
|Speaks, reads and writes||430,717||14.06%||32,191||0.63%||1,225,622||23.95%||71,996||4.15%||17,228||0.99%|
|Speaks but does not read or write||80,429||2.63%||18,966||0.37%||179,295||3.50%||24,677||1.42%||10,265||0.59%|
|Speaks and reads but does not write||45,524||1.49%||6,218||0.12%||132,709||2.59%||7,414||0.43%||7,801||0.45%|
|Reads but does not speak or write||44,327||1.45%||4,646||0.09%||107,025||2.09%||5,659||0.33%||11,911||0.69%|
|Other combination of skills||40,692||1.33%||1,678||0.03%||17,381||0.34%||4,651||0.27%||959||0.06%|
|Has some ability||799,481||26.10%||87,056||1.70%||1,929,444||37.70%||184,898||10.65%||140,204||8.08%|
Cornish is spoken by around 2,500 people. In the 2011 census, 464 respondents aged three and over in Cornwall said that Cornish was their main language, amounting to 0.09% of the total population of Cornwall aged three and over.
- Scottish Gaelic
After English, Polish was the second most common language given in the United Kingdom census 2011. 618,091 respondents aged three and over said that Polish was their main language, amounting to 1.01% of the total population of the United Kingdom aged three and over.
|National identity||United Kingdom||Country|
|Northern Irish only||0.81%||0.21%||0.33%||0.14%||20.94%|
|English and British only||7.82%||9.09%||1.26%||1.54%||0.27%|
|Scottish and British only||1.67%||0.15%||18.29%||0.07%||0.09%|
|Welsh and British only||0.44%||0.11%||0.06%||7.11%||0.02%|
|Northern Irish and British only||0.22%||0.03%||0.15%||0.02%||6.17%|
|Other combination of UK identities only (excludes Irish)||0.45%||0.37%||1.01%||1.10%||0.13%|
|Other identity and at least one UK identity||0.97%||0.90%||1.25%||0.43%||3.05%|
Each country of the United Kingdom has a separate education system, with power over education matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland being devolved.
The Secretary of State for Education is responsible to the British Parliament for education in England. Depending on the status of state schools, control of day-to-day administration and funding may be the responsibility of either the local education authorities or the school's own governing institution. Universal state education in England and Wales was introduced for primary level in 1870 and secondary level in 1900. Education is mandatory from ages 5 to 18, raised from 16 (15 if born in late July or August) in 2013. The majority of children are educated in state-sector schools, only a small proportion of which select on the grounds of academic ability. Despite a fall in actual numbers, the proportion of children in England attending private schools rose slightly from 7.1% to 7.3% between 2004 and 2007.
Just over half of students at the leading universities of Cambridge and Oxford had attended state schools. State schools that are allowed to select pupils according to intelligence and academic ability can achieve comparable results to the most selective private schools: out of the top ten performing schools in terms of GCSE results in 2006, two were state-run grammar schools. England has four universities ranked amongst the top ten in the 2011 THES - QS World University Rankings.
In Scotland, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning is responsible to the Scottish Parliament for education, with day-to-day administration and funding of state schools being the responsibility of local authorities. Scotland first legislated for universal provision of education in 1696. Four percent of children in Scotland attend private schools, a rate which has remained relatively stable since 2015. Scottish students who attend Scottish universities pay neither tuition fees nor graduate endowment charges, as the fees were abolished in 2001 and the graduate endowment scheme was abolished in 2008.
The Welsh Government Minister for Education is responsible to the Senedd for education in Wales. One of the most notable distinctive features of education in Wales is the emphasis on the Welsh language – lessons in which are compulsory for all until the age of 16. Whilst a significant minority of students (15.7% in the 2014\15 academic year) are taught primarily through the medium of Welsh.
The Northern Ireland Assembly is responsible for education in Northern Ireland though responsibility at a local level is administered by 5 Education and Library Boards covering different geographical areas.
The Programme for International Student Assessment coordinated by the OECD currently ranks the overall knowledge and skills of British 15-year-olds as 13th in the world in reading literacy, mathematics, and science with the average British student scoring 503.7, compared with the OECD average of 493.
- Demography of England
- Demography of Scotland
- Demography of Wales
- Demography of Northern Ireland
- Demography of London
- Demography of Birmingham
- Demography of Liverpool
- Demography of Greater Manchester
- City status in the United Kingdom
- List of cities in the United Kingdom
- List of urban areas in the United Kingdom
- Genetic history of Britain
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