Tuesday 8 May 2012

The Population of the United Kingdom

Partly inspired by a global analysis of population by latitude and longitude and partly intrigued by the latest population estimates for small areas, I've been looking at the population of the United Kingdom in more detail recently. According to the latest small area estimates (for mid-2010) the total population of the country is 62.3 million. The 2011 Census results are not out yet (release schedule here) but this figure should be pretty close to the actual number from the Census. I've been looking at where people live according to different north/south cut-offs. The series of maps below looks at (roughly) how many people live south of a) the River Thames, b) Birmingham, c) Manchester, d) Newcastle and e) Edinburgh... [click an image to see it full screen]

About a quarter live south of Thames

About half live south of Birmingham

About two thirds live south of Manchester

Nine out of ten live south of Newcastle

Over 93% live south of Edinburgh

This is not all that mind-blowing really but I was quite surprised that for the UK about half the population live south of Birmingham. The cut-off lines are slightly fuzzy because the data are based on super output areas and data zones (and local authorities for cities) but the figures are pretty accurate. 

In terms of distribution within the United Kingdom (as it still is for the time being!), 83.9% live in England, 8.4% in Scotland, 4.8% in Wales and 2.9% in Northern Ireland. There are ten times as many people in England as there are in Scotland. Or, to look at it another way, you could easily fit the population of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland south of London (though I'm sure they might complain).

On a more serious data-related point, I'm still baffled as to why, for example, the US and China can get some early Census results out so quickly whereas we have to wait until July 2012 for the first releases. It will be interesting to see what the final figures are.