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Who we are

The information on this page is about the personal characteristics of the usually resident population of Walsall. It covers age, ethnicity, religious beliefs, marital status, general health and disability, national identity, whether or not residents were born in the UK and when they arrived, what passports are held and language skills.

Summary of Walsall - Who we are

Population

Walsall has an estimated resident population of 269,323. This is an increase of around 15,800 residents, or 6.2%, in the ten years since the previous census. This rate of growth is lower than nationally (a 7.8% increase) but in line with the West Midlands regional growth of 6.4%. There are now 12,400 more residents than suggested by the ONS mid-2010 estimates – the last official population estimates released. This represents an increase of 4.8%, well above the 2.7% increase for the West Midlands. This suggests that official mid-year estimates have been consistently under-estimating Walsall’s population in the years since the 2001 census. There are only around 200 short term migrants in the borough (those born outside the UK and staying for between three and twelve months).

Age and Sex

Walsall’s population structure has become increasingly ‘dependent’ since 2001, with an above average proportion of the resident population made up of children and older people, and a correspondingly lower proportion of working age people. The population pyramid in figure 1 visualises the age and sex structure of the population, with each horizontal bar representing the proportion of residents in a single year of age; males are shown to the left (in blue) and females to the right (in red). The solid line shows the outline of the population pyramid for England and Wales overall. Where the bars fall inside that line, Walsall has a shortage of residents in that age group compared to nationally; where the bars extend outside the line Walsall has a greater than national average number of residents in that age group. This chart clearly shows the higher than national average numbers of children in Walsall. One possible explanation for this is the number of residents from minority ethnic groups, which tend to have higher birth rates on average than the overall population However, around age 18 the pattern reverses, with Walsall having fewer residents than nationally in most years throughout the working age group up to age 65. Walsall has an over-representation again of people in the older age groups, aged 65 and above. At around age 85 national levels are higher once again, possibly as a result of life expectancy in Walsall being lower than it is nationally. (Note that the ‘spike’ at the top of the chart is due to all people aged 90 years and above being grouped together).

 

Table 1 shows the structure of the population by 5-year (quinary) age band. The groups preceeded by an asterisk are those which contain a greater proportion of Walsall’s population than is seen nationally: these consist of younger (0-19) and older (65-85) age groups. And although the age bands which contain the greatest absolute numbers of residents are ages 40-44 and 45-49, these groups still account for a relatively smaller proportion of the total population than they do in England and Wales overall.

 

Ethnicity and Identity

There are a number of census questions that explore the complexities of personal identity. Many of these (age and year of arrival, passports held, national identity and household language) are new questions introduced in 2011.

Ethnicity

There has been a significant increase in the level of ethnic diversity in Walsall over the past decade. While ‘White British’ remains the largest single group at 76.9%, the number of residents from a minority ethnic group has risen to almost one in four. This figure of 23.1% residents is an increase on the 14.8% in 2001 (and higher than the 19.5% in England and Wales in 2011). The largest increase is in people of Asian background, with a rise from 10.4% in 2001 to 15.2% in 2011. Within this group, those of Pakistani background have increased the most to 5.3% of all residents (although Asian Indian remains the largest minority ethnic group at 6.1%).
This change has implications for community cohesion, as some areas have seen major changes in their ethnic composition over a relatively short period of time. Minority ethnic groups are highly concentrated in certain parts of the borough, with some wards experiencing much greater change than the borough average.

 

National Identity

The vast majority of Walsall residents (95.0%) perceive themselves as having a solely UK-based national identity (at least one of English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British). Only 4.5% see themselves as having another national identity entirely, with 0.5% a joint UK/other identity. However, the perception of being ‘English’ is particularly strong, with over two thirds of people identifying themselves as solely ‘English’, compared with less than a fifth claiming to feel solely ‘British’.

Country of Birth

Nine out of ten Walsall residents (90.1%) were born in the UK. There does not appear to be a high volume of residents from Eastern European countries living in the borough, with only 1.0% of residents – 2,681 people – born in EU Accession countries. This is in contrast with 2.0% in England and with neighbouring authorities of Wolverhampton (2.1%) and Sandwell (2.6%).

 

Age of Arrival

There are 26,600 Walsall residents (9.9% of the total population) who were born outside the UK. These arrivals had a relatively young age profile, which is typical of economic-driven migration. Exactly half were of young working age (16 to 29) when they arrived. Only around one in seven were of older working age (30-44), and those aged 45 arrived in much smaller numbers. A third were children under the age of 16 when they arrived in the UK – indicative of young families arriving in the UK.

Year of Arrival

Around two in five of those residents born outside the UK are relatively recent arrivals: 3.8% of Walsall people arrived in the UK since 2001, compared with 1.5% who arrived the previous decade (1990s) and 1.7% in the 1960s. However, this figure is much lower than for England and Wales overall, with 6.8% of residents arriving since 2001, and almost half the levels seen in neighbouring authorities of Wolverhampton (7.3%) and Sandwell (7.4%).

Passports Held

Almost a quarter (24.8%) of Walsall residents do not currently hold any passport; this proportion is significantly higher than England and Wales. A further 71.3% of Walsall residents have a UK passport and 3.9% hold a passport from another country. The 1.3% holding another (non-UK) European Union passport is below the 3.5% across England and Wales overall, and equates to just fewer than 3,600 people in the borough. Again, this suggests Walsall has not seen significant migration from Eastern European countries in contrast with Wolverhampton (2.8%), Sandwell (3.2%) or Birmingham (3.1%). Other than UK passports, the next largest group are Middle East and Asian passports, which are held by 2.0% of residents. However, this is the same as the proportion nationally, and again much lower than neighbouring authorities of Wolverhampton (3.5%), Sandwell (3.4%) and Birmingham (4.2%).

Language

Levels of English proficiency in Walsall are high, and in line with the average for England and Wales. Overall, 92.6% of residents speak English as their main language; a further 5.0% do not consider English their main language but speak it well. However, this still leaves 3.3% of households in which no one speaks English as their main language, and over 6,200 residents who cannot speak English well (1,200 of whom cannot speak the language at all).

Religion

As in 2001, the question relating to religious affiliation remains the only voluntary question on the census questionnaire, with missing responses categorised as ‘not stated’. In total 6.0% of Walsall residents did not declare a current religion.
Table 4 shows the percentage of Walsall residents by religious group, compared the national average and the 2001 Census.

 

As in 2001, people in Walsall have a greater level of religious affiliation than in England and Wales overall, with almost three quarters identifying with a religion compared with only two thirds nationally. However, in the past decade the proportion of residents who have no current religion has doubled, to one in five.
While the majority of Walsall people still view themselves as Christian (59.0%) this has fallen substantially in the ten years since the last census, as it has nationally. In contrast, the number of Muslims in Walsall has increased to 8.2%, with the proportion of Sikh residents also rising but to a lesser extent. The proportion of Hindus remained similar to 2001, with other religious groups represented only in very small numbers in the borough.

Marital Status

The largest marital status group in Walsall comprises those people who are married – accounting for just under half (48.2%) of all residents aged over 16. This is similar to the national proportion for England and Wales (46.6%). Almost a third of residents over 16 are single, having never been married or in a civil partnership.

 

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into effect in the UK on 5 December 2005, and there are now just fewer than 300 Walsall residents in a same-sex civil partnership formed since that date. This proportion is lower than that for England and Wales (0.2%), with significant numbers of people in civil partnerships found mainly London and the South East. The remainder of Walsall’s usually resident population is composed of divorced (8.3%), widowed (7.9%) and separated (2.7%) individuals from either opposite or same-sex relationships.

Health

The Census results confirm that overall health is poorer in Walsall than in England and Wales. One in five residents has a health condition that limits their day to day activities: 10.4% are limited a lot, and a further 10.3% limited a little. 77.3% of residents say their health is good or very good – lower than the 81.2% nationally – with 7.3% experiencing bad or very bad health (5.6% nationally).

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