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The 2021 Census and rural England

  • by JW

Considering the demographics: “Rural areas have a higher proportion of older people compared with urban areas.”

But: “Those aged 20-24 years show the largest outmigration.”


There was quite a flurry of media focus on the recent census and how that might point to population growth and demand for services in these parts:

The 2021 Census and East Devon: how reliable is it in determining future housing numbers? – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Since then, there’s been further analysis – including from the ever-reliable Jessica Sellick of Rural Words from earlier this week. Here is the ‘rural’ section:

Census 2021 – what will the results tell us about rural England?

What about rural areas? The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs presents Census data in the Statistical Digest of Rural England. The July 2022 edition, for example, collates statistics on social and economic subject areas, and splits them by rural and urban areas, allowing for comparisons.

Rural areas have a higher proportion of older people compared with urban areas. If we want older people to live independent, healthy, and fulfilling lives in rural areas this population data emphasises how we need to address the key challenges experienced by those wanting to age in place – from having a long-term plan for formal care services to supporting informal care. Alongside this, there has been less specific public policy reference to children and young people living in rural areas. Those aged 20-24 years show the largest outmigration. If levelling-up is about children and young people in every part of the country being prepared with the knowledge, skills and qualifications they need, how can we ensure this supports young people to have a stake in the countryside and supports young people to remain in or move to rural areas?

It is worth noting that when the Census was completed, in March 2021, England has national coronavirus restrictions. This means the Census may ‘overcount’ the total number of rural dwellers in ‘normal times’ due to the number of urban residents moving to the countryside during lockdown periods. Will rural areas gain or lose if householders have been over or under counted?

A topic summary is a set of data and supporting commentary, grouped by a similar theme. ONS will be releasing topic summaries in the following order: demography and migration, ethnic group, armed forces veterans, housing, labour market and travel to work, sexual orientation and gender identity, education, and health and care. The first topic summary is due to be published in October 2022. The final release of Census 2021 outputs is expected in spring 2023, and the last publication of articles in summer 2025. What will this reveal about rural areas?

Census 2021 – what will the results tell us about rural England? | Jessica’s Rural Words

With more from the House of Commons Library:

The census results also show an ageing population. The number of over-65s grew by considerably more than the number of children and teenagers, or the number of people aged 20-64.

Source: Cassie Barton, 2021 census: what are the results so far? 
House of Commons Library Insight

2021 census: What are the results so far