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Population and Census

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An understanding of the characteristics of the population is key for the development of all public policy. This page contains;

  • Information from the latest Census 2011 which will be updated as the results are released by the Office for National Statistics throughout 2012 and 2013. Census 2011 Wiltshire Profiles are now available!

  • Population estimates and projections for Wiltshire

  • Census 2001 Information

A report summarising the size of Wiltshire's ethnic population groups can be found on the Community section of this site.

Census 2011

Census 2011

The latest Census was carried out on March 27th 2011 and involved around 25 million households in England and Wales. The datasets resulting from the Census offer the most detailed and accurate picture of the population available. Understanding the size, structure and socio-economic characteristics of Wiltshire’s population is fundamental in enabling Wiltshire Council and its partners to prioritise and deliver services efficiently across the authority. Census 2011 datasets will provide us with a renewed understanding of Wiltshire.

Wiltshire Census 2011 results

Census 2011 results for Wiltshire are presented in the various tabs below corresponding to the Office for National Statistics release phase. The second tab sheet contains our Wiltshire Census 2011 Selected Statistics Profile Tool which allows summary Census 2011 profiles to be created for Wiltshire geographies. These profiles can then be printed neatly over four sides of A4.

The Wiltshire Census 2011 Profile, and Wiltshire Community Area Census 2011 Profiles are available in pdf format below:

Initial results - First release, 16th July 2012.

The Census 2011 data shows that the population of Wiltshire as at 27th March 2011 was 471,000. This is an increase of 38,000 people or 8.8% from the 2001 Census, a rate of growth that is the highest of any of the rural counties in the South West region.

The report below provides an overview of the key facts for Wiltshire revealed from this first release of data and the excel files contain the currently available Census 2011 data for our area.

This initial data is available at local authority level and comprises estimates of the usually resident population by five year age and sex bands, as well as estimates of occupied households. This release also contains information on response rates and confidence intervals to allow local authorities to assess the quality of the Census 2011 data for their areas.

Further information about the first release, including statistical bulletins and interactive visualisations are available on the ONS website.

Key and Quick Statistics - second release

Between December 2012 and March 2013 ONS released 35 Key Statistics and 72 Quick Statistics tables for the Output Area and Ward geography hierarchies in England and Wales.

Following this release three excel based products have been created to present these Key Statistics and Quick Statistics data for Wiltshire, and it’s related geographies, in a summarized and user friendly way.

To help you to know which excel product is best for you, click here to see what information is contained in each of them!

The Wiltshire Census 2011 Selected Statistics Profile Tool allows users to select any combination of geography and area for three separate profiles. The Census data shown will then relate to these user-chosen areas. 245 Selected Key Statistics and Quick Statistics variables, presented across 7 themes of Population, Identity, Health and Care, Economic Activity, Transport, Housing and Accommodation, and Household Composition, provide a concise Census 2011 profile for each area.

Wiltshire Census 2011 Key Statistics Tables presents 33 separate tables containing data for Wiltshire related geographies.

Wiltshire Census 2011 Quick Statistics Tables presents 72 separate tables containing data for Wiltshire related geographies.

Wiltshire’s Community Areas are bespoke geographies so Census 2011 data for Community Areas has been created by summing whole or part ONS Output Areas. This same methodology has been used to create Wiltshire Parish Census data (rather than using ONS’ Best-fit data). More information, including an excel based Wiltshire Census 2011 Geography Lookup Tool, is available upon request by contacting Doug Anderson.

Wiltshire related geographies includes England, South West, Wiltshire, Wiltshire’s Community Areas and Parishes, and Wiltshire’s ONS Middle-Super Output Area (MSOA), Lower-Super Output Areas (LSOA), Output Area (OA), and Electoral Ward geographies. Census 2011 data for further geographies such as Towns and Settlements, and Urban/Rural will be added when this data becomes available.

Further information about the second release, including statistical bulletins, commentary and short stories on international migration, ethnic group and religion, accompanied by interactive visualisations are available on the ONS website.

 Please SAVE the following files to your computer first, and then open to view them!

Detailed Characteristics Tab

Census 2011 Multivariate Statistics will be released by ONS between May and July 2013. This release will provide Detailed Characteristics corresponding to 2001 Census standard tables, standard and CAS theme tables and armed forces tables.

Data will be available at higher level geographies such as Local Authority, Ward, and MSOA level.

The first phase of this third release, relating to topics of migration, ethnicity, identity, language, religion and health, was published on 16th May and can be found on the ONS website.

Wiltshire Council are currently working on providing similar Census 2011 tables, as provided for the first two releases, relating to this release for Wiltshire.  These tables will be made available below.

Local Characteristics Tab

The Census 2011 fourth release will contain multivariate statistics for Local Characteristics and be released between August and October 2013. Local Characteristics tables will be released in three phases according to geography. The full release will provide data for the ONS Output Area hierarchy so again Wiltshire Council will compile Local Characteristics data for Wiltshire’s bespoke Community Areas and Parishes, whilst still providing data for other Wiltshire related geographies.

The statistics in the fourth release will generally correspond to the 2001 Census Area Statistics tables. Examples of tables include:

  • Age by sex and resident type

  • Sex and age by ethnic group

  • Sex and age by economic activity

  • Sex and age by general health and provision of unpaid care.

  • Country of birth by age and sex

  • Sex and occupation by age

  • Dwelling type and accommodation type by household space type

Subsequent releases

Subsequent releases of 2011 Census specialist products including:

  • small population groups

  • microdata

  • flow data

  • alternative population bases including: workday, workplace, students out-of-term, and majority of time.

 Wiltshire and Community Area Population Estimates and Projections 2001 to 2026: Trend-based

This document provides estimates of population in Wiltshire Unitary Authority and community areas of Wiltshire for 2001 and 2009. It also provides projections of these same elements for individual years from 2010 to 2016, 2021 and 2026. Figures are given for both key variables including age structures as well as components of change. The projections presented in this document are “trend-based”.

Wiltshire County, at mid-year 2010, had a projected total population of 458,890 people. The county's population is set to grow by 51,410 persons over the next 16 years to 2026, a projected increase of just over 11%. Low birth and death rates have continued in Wiltshire County and these low rates are projected to remain roughly equal and constant.

Wiltshire is a predominantly rural county with an average population density of 141 persons per square kilometre. Chippenham is Wiltshire’s most populous community area while Mere is Wiltshire’s least populous community area. The community area with the highest population density is Salisbury, where the community area is largely synonymous with the urban area, with 2,145 persons per square kilometre. For the rest of Wiltshire the highest, but more modest, population densities are found in the north and west community areas of Trowbridge, Bradford-on-Avon, Chippenham, Melksham, Corsham and Westbury. Salisbury apart, the southern area of the county has generally lower population densities, with the community areas of Mere, Pewsey, Wilton and Tisbury all having fewer than 55 persons per square kilometre.

There is a similar geographical split across Wiltshire for the difference between the percentage of the total population that are under 16 years of age, and the percentage of the population that are of retirement age. Community areas in the southern part of Wiltshire, excluding Salisbury, generally have a significantly 'older' age structure compared to community areas in the northern and western parts of the county.

The Wiltshire and Community Area Population Estimates and Projections 2001 to 2026: Trend-based report, as well as separate Excel files containing the population data tables for each area, can be accessed below.
Population estimates and projections for Wiltshire parishes from 2001 to 2011 (created in 2006) can be accessed below. If you require community area information then please use figures from the above report and excel files. A revised parish population dataset is currently being produced and will be available soon.

Of the 51,410 person projected increase in Wiltshire's population over the next 16 years, only 10.6 % of this growth is projected to be within the sub-retirement aged population, meaning that this projected population increase will be almost entirely accounted for by our retirement aged population. Much of our retired population will live active and healthy lives, contributing to their communities for many years. However, for the very elderly, there may be barriers which prevent them from accessing services, whether these are through poor finances, health or lack of transport. With increasing numbers of pensioners living alone and in deteriorating health, there will be enormous pressure on public sector resources to care for older people in the future. Wiltshire Council is faced with a significant 'ageing population' problem.

Projections of the populations and needs of adults and older people in Wiltshire can be accessed through the Health and Wellbeing section of this site.

Whilst, to varying degrees, the military are present throughout much of Wiltshire, the army is particularly concentrated around the Salisbury Plain. With the planned departure of the RAF from Lyneham, and an increased army presence around the Plain in the form of a Super Garrison, the concentration of the armed forces as a whole around the Plain may become more marked. A report looking at the military changes in Wiltshire in detail can be accessed here.

The Census is a mandatory survey of the population distributed to all households in the country every 10 years. The results from the 2001 Census are available at a number of geographic levels and provide a snapshot of the population and households on the night of the 29th April 2001. This survey looked to obtain information on household type, tenure, size and facilities, whilst gathering information on the age, gender, occupation, religion, health and mode of travel of the residents in the household. The data assists national, regional and local government in identifying changes in population and social structure as well as forming the basis for future decision making. They are also used to help distribute government funds. The key statistics from the 2001 Census for Wiltshire County can be accessed below.  


 For more information, please contact:

01225 713469, or email research@wiltshire.gov.uk

For more information regarding historic Census data, please contact the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre.  

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