Less religious and more ethnically diverse: Census reveals a picture of Britain today

From the number of people going to church, to the number of children in the average household, a lot has changed in Britain since 2001. Charlotte Philby gets behind the numbers of the latest survey

 

Religion: Number of Christians down 12% in a decade

The number of people calling themselves Christian in the UK fell dramatically between 2001 and 2011. Christianity was the only religion to see a drop-off in membership, with a 12% decrease during those 10 years. The Methodist church described the results as “challenging but not discouraging” while the pioneering Christian group Fresh Expressions said “The church in England and Wales needs to find new ways of engaging those who no longer have, or never had any interest.”

The British Humanist Association spoke of a “significant cultural shift” in a society where “[r]eligious practice, identity, belonging and belief are all in decline… and non-religious identities are on the rise”. The number of people with no religion at all  in the UK has doubled since 2001.

Islam showed the biggest growth in the country with 1.2 million – 5% of the population – calling themselves Muslims in 2011. That is up 1.8% in the past decade. Critics suggest this figure could be misleading, and in fact be a matter of more Muslims filling in the form properly. Birth rates among the Islamic community are not out of proportion with the rate of population increase.

Marriage: For the first time in history, a majority are unmarried

For the first time ever, the majority of Britons were unmarried in 2011. The percentage of married couples fell from 51 to 47%. Reasons for the decline include women outliving men, leaving an increased population of widows, as well as a greater number of younger couples choosing instead to cohabit. 

As many as 35% of the population classed themselves as single at last count, that is an increase of 5% in 10 years. Fractured communities and, ironically, the communications revolution, are among those reasons for more solo living.

Married, Civil partnered and one-person households accounted for 63% (14.8m) of all households. Meanwhile the number of us living in shared accommodation has grown. In seven years since the Civil Partnership Act was introduced in 2004, the number of official same-sex unions had reached 105,000 by 2011.

Ethnicity: Indians beat Irish as top migrant group while melting pot grows

India had replaced the Republic of Ireland as the biggest migrant community, with Pakistan retaining third position. The success of immigrants including Rajesh Agrawal, 35, who arrived from India with £60, and is now a super-rich entrepreneur has highlighted flaws in changes in the law in the past decade. Had the immigration tick box system been in place when Agrawal came to the UK eight years ago, he wouldn’t have been allowed in.

Britain has proven an ever-warmer melting pot with 2.2% of the population in England and Wales calling themselves mixed race - up from 1.27% in 2001. According to the think tank British Future which produced ‘The Melting Pot Generation: How Britain became more relaxed about race’, the true figure is far higher: “Twice as many people have ethnically mixed parentage – but over half of them choose other census categories, such as black or white”.

Wales had the largest proportion of people who listed their ethnic group as White in 2011,that was 96% of the population. Compared to London where just 59% ticked White in 2011, and less than half of 8.2 million usual residents claimed to be White British. At the same time, Londoners are more likely to consider themselves “British” rather than “English”, leading commentators to report the dawning of a new cosmopolitan sense of ‘Britishness’ sweeping the Capital.

Population: There’s a lot more of us (and more of us were born elsewhere)

Of 56.1 million residents of England and Wales last year (that is 3.7m more than 10 years previously) some 7.5m were born abroad –that is 3m more than the number reported in 2001. Just under half of those had arrived in the past 10 years.

There are now 23.4 million households in the UK, with 2.4 residents per household. The number of these that are mortgages has dropped while the number of renters – most acutely in London where property prices were less affected by the property crisis – has risen in its place.

Census in numbers

14m people now consider themselves without a religion – up from 7.7m in 2001

The number of cars and vans in England and Wales rose to 23.9m

4.2m The number of people who work in the wholesale and retail sector – more than any other

Nearly 80% of people in England and Wales live in a whole house or bungalow,  rather than a flat or apartment

96% of Welsh people are white, compared with just 59% of Londoners

The number of people claiming Jedi Knights as a religion fell by 50% to 176,632

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test