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29th Nov 2022

England’s white population declined in past decade, census reveals

Steve Hopkins

The number of people identifying as Christian has also fallen

The white population is declining in England and Wales with 81.7 per cent of people identifying their ethnic group as white on the day of the 2021 census, down from 86.0 per cent a decade earlier.

And the number of people describing themselves as Christian has fallen below half for the first time. Some 46.2 per cent – 27.5 million people – described themselves as such, the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show. This represents a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 2011.

According to ONS, the second most common ethnic group, according to the ONS stats, was “Asian, Asian British or Asian Welsh” at 9.3 per cent, up from 7.5 per cent in 2011. Around one in 10 households (2.5 million) contained members from at least two different ethnic groups last year, compared with 8.7 per cent in 2011, the ONS said.

Census deputy director Jon Wroth-Smith said the figures highlight “the increasingly multi-cultural society we live in”.

Responding to the census figures, the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said the country had “left behind the era when many people almost automatically identified as Christian”, The Independent reported.

“No religion” was the second most common response, increasing by 12.0 percentage points to 37.2 per cent from 25.2 per cent in 2011; Muslim representation increased from 4.9 per cent to 6.5 per cent and Hindu residents increased from 1.5 per cent to  1.7 per cent.

London remains England’s most religiously diverse region, with just over a quarter (25.3 per cent) of people reporting a religion other than Christianity on the day of the 2021 census, followed by south-west England.

Responding to the data, Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson said it should be a “wake-up call which prompts fresh reconsiderations of the role of religion in society.”

“‘One of the most striking things about these Census results is how at odds the population is from the state itself,” he said.

In England and Wales, Polish was the most common main language for those who did not speak English as a main language with 591,00 and 21,00 people respectively indicating this across the census survey (1.1 per cent). The next most common main language was Romanian (0.9 per cent) and Arabic (9,000).

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