Dr Sundas Ali
The recently released data from the 2011 Census of
England and Wales indicates the population of Muslims has increased
1.1 million over the last ten years. It stands at 2.7 million (1.6 million in
2001). Muslims constitute 4.8 per cent of the total population, an
increase from 2.7 per cent in 2001.
While a significant proportion are of Asian origin (68%), it
is truly a multi-ethnic community: Black, 10% (a category that includes those
of African and Caribbean origin); White, 8%; Arab, 6%; Mixed, 4% other,
Also of all religious groups in England and Wales, Muslims
have the youngest age profile. Almost one third is below 15 years of age and 17
per cent are aged 16-24 years. The age demographics indicate that 290,000
Muslims are in the 9-14 age band, so young Muslims are a strategic asset for
the country given the ageing population.
It is the first time the Census has had a count for the Arab
ethnic category - 241,000 in England and Wales. There have been significant
increases in the Muslim populations of Birmingham (plus 93,400), Bradford (plus
53,800), and Manchester (plus 43, 700) in the last ten years. Interestingly,
the Muslim population of Tower Hamlets, traditionally an area of high Muslim
concentration, has increased to a much lesser extent, relatively
speaking. This could be because of movement out of the borough though further
research is required on social mobility within the community. Factors
contributing to the increased Muslim population include the young age profile
so there are child-rearing families, more children per family (though other
studies show a dropping fertility), new settlements from Somalia, Iraq and
Afghanistan, and a better response to the census from previously hard-to-reach
Excluding Christians, Muslims comprise 58% of the
population of the minority faiths. So there are more Muslims than all the other
non-Christian communities put together. Comparison with the 2001 Census
indicates that the populations of all minority faiths have increased - for example
the Hindu and Buddhist communities rose by 48% and 70% respectively.
London has the largest of
Britain's total Muslim population (almost 40 per cent). Figure 1 shows the Muslim
distribution in London; the darker green areas represent a higher density of
Muslims. It is clear that parts of East London, North London, and West London
have higher numbers of Muslims.
The high number of Muslims in a number of parliamentary constituencies
suggests that the Muslim vote will be important for the next general election
in 2015, but this depends on prior voter registration and turnout on the day.
The 2011 census data shows that there are a significant number of Muslims
living in some of the 80 most marginal UK constituencies. As an example, in the
parliamentary constituency Birmingham Edgbaston (where the MP's marginal
victory was 50), there are 6,765 Muslims living there. The top ten Local
Authority Districts and top twenty Parliamentary Constituencies with the most
Muslims (in numbers and percentages) are shown in Tables 1 and 2. The local
authority district of Tower Hamlets tops the table with a Muslim population of
34.5 percent and the parliamentary constituency Birmingham, Hodge Hill has 52.1
percent of Muslims. Data on the Index of Multiple Deprivation (from the Public
Health Observatories) reveals that 49% of the Muslim population (1,290,785) are
living in the 10% most deprived Local Authority Districts in England.
Source: Office for National
Statistics (ONS) data.
Dr Sundas Ali is a Policy Analyst Intern at the MCB, working on the Census Project
(Published in The Muslim News: http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/newspaper/home-news/census-finding-muslim-population-young-and-diverse/)