Changing picture of migration in England

For people born in the Middle East and Asia, three areas around London had the highest population proportion

Migrants from India and China were generally more likely to be students  and those from Europe more likely to move for work. PA
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Ten million people born outside the UK have moved to England and Wales to live, the 2021 census shows.

It is the highest number recorded by a census and an increase of 2.5 million on 2011, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In the year before the census, the most common long-term migrant arrivals were from India, Romania and China.

Migrants from India and China were generally younger than the typical resident population and included a high proportion of students.

Migrants from Europe, including Romania jumped from 86th to fourth and were likely to move for work, ONS said.

For people born in the Middle East and Asia, three areas around London recorded the highest migrant population proportion — Hounslow, Newham, and Slough, on the capital’s outskirts. Leicester, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds all also had high migrant population proportions.

UK migration

The main increases in non-UK-born residents since 2011 were the West Midlands, London, East of England and East Midlands.

Between 2011 and 2021, Romania and Italy entered the top six as the United States and Jamaica fell out of the top 10 nations.

Three of the top 10 countries in 2021 did not appear in the top 10 in 2001 — Poland, Romania and Nigeria.

Poland and Romania joined the European Union in 2004 and 2007, respectively, and with it were entitled to free movement to the UK.

Top countries

The top five nationalities are India, Poland, Pakistan, Romania, Ireland.

“We can see Romanians have been a big driver in this change, while there have also been increases due to migration from India, Pakistan and Poland, as well as southern European countries such as Italy,” said census deputy director Jon Wroth-Smith.

"We can also see that migration in the year prior to census was lower in 2021 than it was in 2011. This is likely, in large part, due to the various travel restrictions in place during the coronavirus pandemic."

Farther down the rankings, Afghanistan is a new entry in the top 40, jumping from 55th place in 2001 to 33rd in 2021.

The new data also provides an insight into the employment status of people aged 16 and over living in England and Wales who were born outside the UK, or who do not hold British passports.

There were “high rates of employment” at the 2021 census for people born in parts of the eastern Europe.

Employment stats

The rate of employment was at 80 per cent for people from Bulgaria and Romania.

For people from the group of countries known as the EU8: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia the rate was 79 per cent.

Migrant workers from non-EU countries are “much more likely” to be in the health and social work and information and communication sectors than UK or EU-born workers.

EU and non-EU-born workers are underrepresented in education, public administration and defence compared with people born in the UK.

Updated: January 27, 2023, 3:03 PM