I am one of 1,573,600 people like me in England and Wales – that is, people who are male and between 55 and 59 years old. I am one of 245,100 people like me in the southeast (our little males-who-have-been around-for-a-while subgroup makes up 5.7 % of the population) and there are more people now in England and Wales (56.1 million of them, not all of them like me) than there has ever been before. Or at least there were on the night of 27th March 2011, which is the date that all the figures above refer to and which was the night of the 2011 census.
The figures were announced this week and are the first released results from the 2011 census. (More results will come in two more batches later.) Among other things, we have been told that the population of England and Wales grew by 3.7 million in the 10 years since the last census; it was 52.4 million in 2001, so there has been an increase of 7.1 per cent – which is rather a lot. In fact it is the largest growth in the population that England and Wales has ever seen in any 10-year period since census taking began, in 1801. So if the roads seem more crowded than they used to, if housing is harder to find and afford, if all our infrastructure seems more under stress than it was they were in the good old days (all right, let’s not make assumptions, than in the old days) - that is the reason. Unless the electricity people and the water people and the transport people and the schools people and the housing people and the food-supply people and the hospital people and all the other people whose job it is to make available the things that we all need – unless all those people have upped their performance by 7.1 percent over the last ten years they have been going backwards. Time to misquote the Red Queen in Alice: in this world you have to run 7% faster every decade just to stand still.
Time also to state the bleeding obvious, namely why we need those tedious and intrusive censuses: because if we didn’t have them all those people with jobs to supply things wouldn’t know how fast they were supposed to be running in order to supply enough. Perhaps those politicians in countries like Canada who have abolished proper censuses as being expensive intrusive officialdom should get just a little bit real.
More stuff from the UK census: The median age of the population in England and Wales was 39. For men, the median age was 38 and for women it was 40. (Don’t ask me why England and Wales are lumped together and Scotland isn’t; ask an Englishman, a Welshman and a Scotsman. Actually, they will be asking Scotsmen just that in a referendum next year about independence.) In 1911, the median age was 25 – so we are an older population that we were back then. The percentage of the population aged 65 and over was the highest seen in any census at 16.4 per cent: that is one in six people in the population was 65 and over. (So old-age pensions and care-homes for the elderly are less affordable than they used to be – there are fewer young tax-payers to pay for them.) There were 430,000 residents aged 90 and over in 2011 compared with 340,000 in 2001 and 13,000 in 1911. So more old people; but more very young ones as well: In 2011, there were 3.5 million children under five in England and Wales, 406,000 more than in 2001.
My own particular subgroup, of men in my age-bracket and region, I got from the interactive graphic above, which the ONS has put online. If you click on the coloured age-bar that includes you, or on the drop-down boxes for regions, or on the buttons for 2001 comparisons and overlays, you can play about with it all to your heart’s content. Enjoy.