For the first time, India has topped the list of non-UK born residents in the country, displacing Ireland, which held the top spot in every census since 1951, according to latest census figures analysed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Due to reasons of history and geographical proximity, Ireland was the place of birth of the largest number of residents in the UK who were born abroad. In 1951, Poland held the second spot and from the 1961 census onwards India emerged as the second-largest group in this category.
But newly analysed results of the 2011 census show that India has overtaken Ireland. UK residents born in India now number 694,000.
The ONS analysis says: "This (India) group has consistently accounted for a large proportion of the non-UK born population of England and Wales. The largest inter-censal percentage increase for this group was between 1961 and 1971, where this population almost doubled from 157,000 to 313,000. In 1971 those born in India accounted for 10% of the whole non-UK born population."
In 1951 the top ten non-UK countries of birth represented 60% (1.1 million) of the total foreign born population, compared to 45% (3.4 million) in 2011. There are several major groups identified in this data that have continually been present in the top ten non-UK countries of birth, such as those born in Ireland, India and Poland, the ONS says.
In 1951 there were 1.9 million non-UK born residents in England and Wales (4.5% of the usually resident population) and by 2011 this had increased to 7.5 million (13% of the resident population).
According to the ONS, underlying reasons for migrations to the UK are complex, but often include ‘push’ factors such as civil conflict, political instability and poverty, and ‘pull’ factors such as employment and education opportunities.
Source: Office for National Statistics