Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Population Projections

The immigration wedge

Following on from our various posts on immigration numbers (eg see here), we've delved into the latest Office for National Statistics' population projections published a couple of weeks ago (see their mini-site here).

Although the headlines only picked up the numbers up to 2031, the ONS actually published projections out to 2081. On their central projection, the total UK population goes from 60.6m in 2006 to 71m (up 17%) in 2031, to 85m (up an eye watering 41%) in 2081.

So where does the growth come from?

Yup. It virtually all comes from immigration. Without immigration, the ONS reckons population would stabilise at just over 60m (strictly, the ONS assumes zero net immigration- ie there is just enough inward migration to offset the Brits who are leaving- about 0.1m pa at present).

Their central projection assumes net immigration at 190,000 pa. In the next 50 years that would add 17.1m to our population, both through its direct effect and through the extra children subsequently born here (more pronounced because immigrants on average have more children).

They also project a Higher Immigration Variant with net immigration at 250,000 pa. That adds a further 4.2m by 2056.

The above chart shows the three projections side by side. We have resisted the temptation the truncate the vertical axis: we reckon the migration wedge already looks scary enough, especially when you remember that 75% of migrants come to London and the South East.
Where are all these people going to go?

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