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Population leaps 3.7m in 10 years

Immigration, rising birth rates and increased life expectancy have fuelled a record leap in the population of England and Wales over the past decade, according to new figures.

The number of people living in England and Wales rose 3.7 million, or 7.1%, from 52.4 million in 2001 to 56.1 million last year, the biggest growth between censuses since 1801 when records began, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.

The statistics, taken from the first set of data released from the 2011 census, showed around 55% of the growth, or 2.1 million, was the result of net migration, with 45%, or 1.6 million, attributable to increased life expectancy and fertility rates.

The ONS results showed that every region in England and Wales had a larger population in 2011 than 10 years earlier with England the fifth fastest growing country in the European Union during this period.

The figures showed an ageing population, with one in six now in the 65 and over age group, of which 430,000 were aged 90 years old or more.

There was also an increase in the number of people in their 20s and an increase in the number of young children with 400,000 more under-fives compared with 2001.

More than half of the overall population growth was in London, the South East and the East of England.

The largest increase in population was in London, which grew by 12%, gaining more than 850,000 inhabitants and taking its total population to more than eight million.

The local authority with the fastest growing population was Tower Hamlets in east London - one of the poorest parts of the capital - which registered a 26.4% population rise in the last decade, following by the east London authority of Newham at 23.5%.

Of the 348 local authorities in England and Wales, 331 grew in population between 2001 and 2011, according to the ONS. Of those registering a fall in population growth, Barrow-in-Furness fell by the highest total, at 4%, followed by Knowsley in Merseyside which registered a drop of 3.5%.

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