Great Britain Dep — Current theme: Population

We let you look at total population in two ways.

Firstly, population density: which areas had the most people? Density is calculated as the number of people per hectare, and we have measured areas from a modern digital map of the local authorities rather than relying on the doubtful acreages given in historical reports. Secondly, growth rates: where was population rising fastest, or declining? We also look at the ratio of men to women.

This theme also covers people's ages. From 1851 onwards, the census has provided very detailed statistics of age structure, giving numbers of males and of females in each 5-year age band. However, we simplify this here to three broad age groups: Children (0-14), Working Age (15-64) and the Elderly (over 65).

Over the last 150 years, our population has clearly aged. However, mortality decline in the late 19th century was mainly due to the reduction of very high infant mortality rates: the presence or absence of large number of infants dying before their first birthday had little effect on overall age structures. During the twentieth century, declining fertility and improved life expectancy in later life significantly changed age structures.

We hold these detailed statistics for Britain, which we graph and tabulate here:

Available datasets Period covered Variables
(number of categories)
Age & Sex Structure data in 5-year bands to age 100 1851 to 1911 Sex (2)
Age in five-year bands to age 100 (21)
Age & Sex Structure data in 5-year bands to age 95 1961 to 1971 Sex (2)
Age in five-year bands to age 95 (20)
Age & Sex Structure data in single years under 5 1911 Sex (2)
Age in single years between birth & 5 (5)
Age & Sex Structure to age 85 & up 1851 to 2011 Sex (2)
Age in five-year bands to age 85 (19)
Area (acres) 1911 to 1951 Area (acres) (1)
Males & Females 1801 to 2011 Sex (2)
Population Change 1811 to 2011 Population Change (2)
Total Families 1831 Total Families (1)
Total number of males aged 20 & over 1831 1831 Occupational Categories Total (1)
Total Population 1801 to 2011 Total Population (4)

Read more about how we hold statistics here.