Muslim percentage of English and Welsh populations rises

Muslims account for one in 10 under-fours in England and Wales

A Muslim woman and girl sit in Burgess Park in London. Self-declared Muslims living in England and Wales   made up 4.8 per cent of the population in 2011, up from 3 per cent in 2001. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A Muslim woman and girl sit in Burgess Park in London. Self-declared Muslims living in England and Wales made up 4.8 per cent of the population in 2011, up from 3 per cent in 2001. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Sat, Jan 11, 2014, 01:00


One in 10 under-fours in England and Wales is a Muslim, marking a significant change in population patterns, according to figures from Office of National Statistics.

The figures were released last year, though more attention was given at the time to the fact that 62.5m people now live in the UK.

There are 325,000 children under the age of four described as Muslims out of a total of 3.5 million children in that age group, or 9 per cent of the total.However, the percentage of people who are registered as Muslims in the total population is less than 5 per cent, while just one in 200 over-85s is Muslim.

The majority of the Muslim children, born to Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian couples, are British-born, rather than immigrants.

The figures illustrate higher birth rates among ethnic Asians, though the numbers of children born to each couple has been declining.

In 2001, 1.6m self-declared Muslims lived in England and Wales, or 3 per cent of the population, according to the 2011 Census. By 2011, that number had grown to 2.7m, or 4.8 per cent of the population. “It certainly is a startling figure,” David Coleman, Professor of Demography at the University of Oxford, told the Times.

“We have had substantial immigration of Muslims for a long time. Continuing immigration from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India has been added to by new immigration from African countries and from the Middle East.

“Birth rates of Muslims of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin remain quite high, although falling. There seem to be very low levels of falling away from religion among Muslims,” he said.

The changing demography poses issues for the British authorities, particularly about education. Birmingham City Council last year said 108 languages are now spoken in schools in its area.

Less than one-third of pupils in the West Midlands city are white, according to a report produced by the Birmingham Community Safety Partnership, which includes representatives from the police and the city council.