Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Census shows rise in secularity

There are four million fewer Christians living in England and Wales than there were 10 years ago, according to the 2011 Census
There are four million fewer Christians living in England and Wales than there were 10 years ago, according to the 2011 Census

The population of England and Wales has grown more secular and increasingly ethnically diverse over the last decade, according to new figures.

Foreign-born people now make up 13% of the population in England and Wales, rising from 4.6 million in 2001, or 9% of the population, to 7.5 million last year. Just over half of the foreign-born population, or 3.8 million, arrived in the last 10 years.

During the same period, there was a fall of nearly 7% in the number of people classifying their ethnic group as white British.

In London, the most ethnically-mixed area of the country, more than one in three of the population, or 37%, is now foreign-born, and the proportion of the population which classifies itself as white British has fallen below half, to 45%, for the first time.

The statistics from the 2011 Census, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows an increase of nearly 600,000 in the number of people classifying themselves as of mixed ethnicity to more than 1.2 million in 2011.

The figures also show a rise of more than six million people who said they were of "no religion" and a fall in just over four million in those who classified themselves as Christian during the past 10 years.

Christianity remains the largest religious group at 33.2 million, or around six in 10 of the population, but around one in four people in England and Wales now classify themselves as having no religion.

The figures also show a 1.2 million rise in the number of Muslims in England and Wales to 2.7 million, or nearly 5% of the population.

The figures also reflected the expansion of the European Union, with Poland second in the top 10 countries of birth outside the UK in 2011 - having not made the list in 2001, reflecting its accession to the European Union in 2004. India and Pakistan remained in the top three countries of birth outside the UK in 2011.

The largest rise in ethnic group over the last decade was seen in the white other category, where an increase of 1.1 million, to 2.5 million, was recorded, reflecting more than half a million Poles who migrated into England and Wales during these years, the ONS said.

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