Census shows North's population at over 1.8m - the highest ever recorded


THE POPULATION in Northern Ireland is now 1,810,900, the highest ever recorded, according to the first results from the 2011 census published yesterday.

This brings the population of the island of Ireland to just under 6.4 million, which is the highest population in Ireland since the first post-Famine census of 1851. The population on the island has increased by more than 1.25 million in the past 21 years and by well over two million in the past 51 years.

In the 10 years between 2001 and 2011 the Northern Ireland population increased by 125,600, which is up 7 per cent.

The increase in population is represented by the fact that between 2001 and 2011 there were 89,300 more births than deaths in the North, with a net figure of an additional 36,300 migrants making up the overall increase of 125,600.

When rounded the North’s population is made up of 923,500 females and 887,300 males, representing 51 per cent and 49 per cent of the population respectively.

The population of Ireland now stands at 6,399,152 which is the highest since the first census after the Famine in 1851, when the population was 6,552,385.

The population still remains significantly lower than the figure at the time of the 1841 pre-Famine census when the population was 8,175,124. The 1841 population in Northern Ireland was 1,648,945 – the population 10 years later was 1,442,517.

The population on the island increased by almost 800,000 between the 2001/2-2011 censuses in Ireland. In the 20 years between 1991 and 2011 the population increased by 1,266,133 while in the 50 years since 1961 the overall population increased by 2,155,769.

The Northern Ireland census shows that the population is ageing in the North. The median age at which half of the population is younger and half is older has risen from 25 in 1911 to 34 in 2001 and 37 in 2011.

The number of people aged 16 to 39 has increased from 583,300 to 593,800 – up 2 per cent – compared with the number of people aged 40-60 increasing from 480,500 to 574,000 – up 19 per cent. The population aged 65 and over increased by 40,400 – up 18 per cent. The largest percentage increase in population between 2001 and 2011 was among those aged 85 and over, rising from 23,300 to 31,400 – up 35 per cent.

Despite the increase in the overall population in Northern Ireland the number of children has fallen by 18,700 (5 per cent) since the 2001 census.

However, while the number of schoolchildren up to the compulsory schoolgoing age of 15 in Northern Ireland has fallen by 9 per cent the number of pre-school children aged up to three years has increased by 10 per cent.

But relative to most of the rest of Europe the population in the North remains comparatively young – the Republic is the only European Union jurisdiction with a higher proportion of people in the group aged up to 14 – 21 per cent in the Republic, 20 per cent in the North.

The vast majority of people in the North – 99 per cent – live in 703,300 private households giving an average household size of 2.54 people per household.

Fifty years ago half of the population lived in households with five or more people but now only 22 per cent of the population live in such households.

In 1961 only 34 per cent of households contained up to two people compared with 58 per cent of such households now.

The trend towards smaller household sizes means that the number of households is increasing more rapidly than the number of people. Over the last decade the number of households increased by 12 per cent compared to the population growth of 7 per cent.

Further details from the Northern Ireland 2011 census will be released later this year and next year including the religious breakdown of the population.

The North’s Minister of Finance Sammy Wilson, welcoming the publication of the figures, said the statistics would assist Northern Executive Ministers “when making important decisions on long-term policy initiatives that will have a direct impact on the people of Northern Ireland including health and education”.