Thursday 21 February 2013

Census 2011 : National Identity & Ethnicity

Is Wales significantly less "British" than commonly believed?
It looks like it.
(Pic : Clive Morgan via

How "Welsh" is Wales?

This has been covered before by both Syniadau and Welsh not British. All the data I've used to compile this is available here. I couldn't link to them directly.

2011 was the first census year you were able to officially record yourself as Welsh, English, Scottish etc. so there are no previous figures from 2001 to judge any changes.

% of population giving some form of Welsh
identity in the 2011 census
(Click to enlarge)

So, how "Welsh" is Wales? For this exercise I'm counting "Welsh only", "Welsh and British" and "Welsh and another identity" as "describing themselves as Welsh".

Only two local authorities – Flintshire and Conwy – had less than 50% of the population giving no Welsh identity. Flintshire probably due to close interconnections and cross-border commuting to/from the Wirral, Merseyside and Cheshire. Conwy probably because of retirees and, yes, people moving from the large conurbations of NW England to live by the sea. Denbighshire also came close to having 50% or less. Powys, Ceredigion and Monmouthshire also have what could be considered "weak" Welsh identity.

The strongest Welsh identity is in the south, in particular the former coalfields. RCT and Merthyr have joint highest levels of Welsh identity at 82.2%, with all valleys local authorities (including Swansea and Carmarthenshire) having Welsh identifying populations of 70%+.

Cardiff - as you might expect - falls just short of a 60% Welsh identifying population. I imagine all national capitals are more "international" than their respective nations with the exception of Pyongyang. Newport and Vale of Glamorgan have similar figures, presumable as they are "overspill".

% of the population giving NO British identity
(Click to enlarge)

Nationally, 65.8% of the resident Welsh population gave some sort of Welsh identity, and the clear majority of them (87.3%) considered themselves exclusively Welsh.

But what about "British" identity? It's probably best to highlight how many people gave NO British national identity in the census – that would include people describing themselves as English, Scottish etc. It's actually quite startling.

A clear majority in every single Welsh local authority didn't consider themselves "British" at all. Again this sentiment is stronger in the south Wales valleys, but even in supposedly Anglicised areas it's the same trend, just less pronounced.

It ranges from 81.4% in Merthyr Tydfil to 65.9% in Monmouthshire – and Monmouthshire is the lowest. You're looking at an average 26% of people per local authority considering themselves British or (Something) and British. That's outstripped by Welsh identity and, in come cases, English identity.

The English in Wales

Although the numbers of Scots, Northern Irish and Irish are recorded, they don't make up any significant percentage of the Welsh population. What's clear, and what you probably already knew, is that the English are the largest "minority" in Wales.

% of the resident population giving some form
of English identity
(Click to enlarge)

"Minority" is key. Nationally, just 13.8% of the resident Welsh population identified themselves as wholly or partially English.

English identity ranges from 31.7% in Flintshire, to just 4.5% in Merthyr Tydfil. There's no English majority in any local authority, and doesn't appear to be on the cusp of happening any time soon. The average percentage of people identifying themselves as English (one way or another) per local authority is a paltry 14.9%.

If anyone still thinks Monmouthshire's "a part of England" – 21.8% of the population considered themselves wholly or partially English. Judging by the numbers in the Gwent Valleys – also part of the former county of Monmouthshire – it's probably best the English Democrats stay away from canvassing there. They would be better off trying Connah's Quay and Mold instead. However, I suspect Flintshire isn't "nice" enough to be annexed.

In terms of people born in England, the pattern's varied. 20.8% of the resident Welsh population were born in England in 2011. However, it's heavily skewed towards Powys and Flintshire, with large English-born populations in Ceredigion, Conwy and Denbighshire.

% of the resident population born in England
(Click to enlarge)

Elsewhere in Wales, especially the south, the numbers of English-born are low, barely rising above 10% in Valleys areas. Only 14.1% of Swansea's population were born in England and just 12.2% in Bridgend. Even Cardiff doesn't break the 20% barrier. It's only Monnmouthshire in the south that stands out.

The numbers of Welsh-born living in England amounts to 1% (or 561,000 people, perhaps more) of the English population. The number of English-born in Wales (20.8%) amounts to 637,200 people. So there's clearly been net "English" in migration, but it's a difference of just 76,000 people compared to those leaving. And not all of them will be "English".

Place of birth

In 2001, there was a local authority average of 26.9% of the population born outside Wales. In 2011, that's risen to 29.2% - which is slightly higher than the Welsh national figure (27.4%). This is because the actual figures across Wales vary wildly on a county-to-county level.

% of resident population
not born in Wales
(click to enlarge)

Only two local authorities – Conwy and Denbighshire – saw a fall in the numbers born outside Wales.

However, in Powys and Flintshire, half of the resident population were born outside Wales, with the likes of Conwy (45.5%) and Ceredigion (44.5%) close behind. In fact, the numbers born outside Wales are heavily skewed towards rural parts of the country with the exception of Carmarthenshire.

Now, most of the people reading this are going to immediately point to English in migration. But....

The numbers of people in Wales born in England – outlined further up - have remained relatively stable. There's no evidence of a "mass influx", and in the south the numbers born in England have flatlined or even fallen slightly. Nationally, the English-born population of Wales has only risen by 0.5% compared to 2001, and the bulk of that can be accounted to Powys, Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot. Even Cardiff has only seen a 0.6% rise.

Change in the % of residents born in England
(click to enlarge)

The evidence points to the increase in people being born outside Wales being driven by migrants from the European Union (post 2004 enlargement) or elsewhere, perhaps mainly international students. This was a point I made in the Welsh language post.

Wrexham (+2.6%), Ceredigion (+1.4%), Cardiff (+1.8) and Carmarthenshire (+1.3%) have all seen a rise in EU-born residents that completely outstrips English-born once non-EU born are added to that. It's a similar pattern in every local authority.

At local authority level, there's an average 2.2% increase in the numbers born outside Wales. Up to 1.95% (88%) of that is down to EU and "other" immigrants. It's almost identical to the average fall in the number of Welsh-born residents.

So if you're determined to want a migratory reason as to why the percentage of Welsh-speakers have fallen, you'll have to look much, much further east than Offa's Dyke.

Change in the % of residents not born in Wales
(Click to enlarge)

It's also fair to point out that being "born in England" doesn't mean you're not Welsh, or vice versa.Quite a fair number of Welsh babies in border counties like Powys will have been born in English hospitals I'd imagine – the Royal Shrewsbury is closer than Bronglais. 20.8% of the Welsh population may have been born in England, but only 13.8% of the population consider themselves wholly or partially "English."

Oh, and under those definitions I'm not Welsh either. I count in the census as someone "not born in Wales." If you're going to judge nationality by birthplace alone, I guess I'm going to have to "bugger off home" with a Cantonese dictionary tucked under my arm and leave Wales for the "proper Welsh."

Race in Wales

Outside the cities and university towns, it's safe to say that
Wales remains (relatively) mono-ethnic.
(Pic : BBC Asian Network)

There's little point analysing Caucasians. The average "white" ethnic population per local authority was 96.6%. Bears in woods. Compare that to the 86% total for EnglandandWales.

That means in terms of people from mixed, black, Asian or other (i.e Arab) backgrounds, the all-Wales average is just 3.4% - and that's been dragged upwards by a handful of local authorities.

The only local authorities that can point to having anything close to a multi-ethnic population are Cardiff and Newport. In Cardiff, 15.3% of people are from a mixed or minority ethnic backgrounds, while it's 10% in Newport. Swansea comes in fairly close behind them, but even there 94% of the population are from white ethnic groups.

The largest minority ethnic group across Wales are Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi Asians. This broadly corroborates my last census post on religion, where Islam and Hinduism are the two largest faiths outside Christianity.

% of the resident population from a mixed,
black, Asian or other minority ethnic background in 2011
(Click to enlarge)

The largest Chinese communities are in Cardiff (1.2%), Swansea (0.9%) and Gwynedd (0.7%).

The Black-Welsh population though, barely registers outside Cardiff (2.4%) and Newport (1.7%). There's an average black population of 0.38% per local authority. In Merthyr Tydfil there were, in 2011, no black residents (or so few they barely reached .1 of a percent). Several local authorities - in particular across north Wales, the Gwent Valleys and Pembrokeshire - recorded just 0.1%.

Outside Cardiff (2%), Swansea (1%) and Newport (1%); Ceredigion (0.5%) and Gwynedd (0.7%) recorded the largest populations of "other" resident ethnic groups.

What could this mean?

British identity in Wales is soft – It's unclear what impact last summer's successful London Olympics will have had, but it's worth pointing out that the census was taken around the same time as last year's other "Big British Bash" Billy Whizcopter and Kaff getting married. It doesn't appear to have made any impact. I'm not sure what this means for nationalism. It could be a good thing - for obvious reasons. Or, it could equally mean the Welsh are comfortable with multiple nationalities to spend too much time thinking about it. But when they do think about it, they'll perhaps be more likely to lean towards "Welsh" (or English) than "British." Everything points to there being polarisation between a majority Welsh identity and a large minority English identity.

Reinforcing the common bonds of "British identity"? Or excuse for a piss up?
You got to say - based on the evidence - excuse for a piss up.
(Pic : BBC)

The English are not "swamping" Wales (as a whole) – Aside from Flintshire, Powys and the Costa Geriatrica, there's no real sign of any mass influx. Judging by the figures, quite a few English people in Wales may now consider themselves Welsh. Good. Why shouldn't they? What matters is how old they are, and I'll be looking at demography another time.

Wales is becoming more "European" – With 88% of the change in people born outside Wales driven by non-British immigration – especially EU enlargement nations - Wales has become ever so slightly more cosmopolitan. It's unclear if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Hopefully it could lead, in the long-term, to more trade opportunities or university co-operation.

Link between universities and minority ethnic residents – It's fairly probable that having a university in your local authority boosts the numbers of people from minority ethnic backgrounds by attracting international students. That would explain why Ceredigion, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Gwynedd have proportionally larger minority ethnic populations than somewhere like Bridgend or Blaenau Gwent.

Are a large chunk of minority ethnic residents
in Wales international students?
(Pic : The Guardian)
Question marks over Third Sector economies of scale – When AWEMA wound up, there were three or four other race-related charities ready to step in and take over. You have to question - given the small populations of minority groups in Wales – why there's so many of these bodies? Surely it would be better to have a single body/charity with clout, instead of six or seven competing for their own slice of pie? A similar point was raised in the recent arts participation report from the Assembly. By proliferating into ever smaller organisations, competing for ever smaller pots of money, are Third Sector bodies doing minority groups a disservice?

The Assembly accurately reflects Wales' ethnic make up
– There's one AM for approximately 1.7% of the population. Having two AMs from minority backgrounds – Mohammad Ashgar (Con, South Wales East) and Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff South & Penarth) – is pretty much representative, so well done us. So that's a far cry from the hand-wringing that the devolved administrations aren't doing enough here. Maybe positive discrimination here should concentrate instead on gender balance and, in Wales' case, disabilities – my next stop.


  1. The 'English born' figures for Flintshire/Powys are also skewed by the fact that a lot of the population's closest maternity units are located in Chester/Shrewsbury

  2. The reason we have so many Third Sector ethnic minority groups, and also why we have so many groups 'helping people back into employment', is that the system of funding encourages the 'niche' organisation. The problem then becomes that an unemployed woman from an ethnic minority might have three or four organisations that qualify to help her.

    Duplication, obviously. And that's without considering the government departments and agencies supposedly doing the same work.

    But this system endures and proliferates in Wales because it serves the political purpose of 'being seen to be doing something'; it eats up funding that the WG has no better ideas how to spend; and it provides work for people who are either members or supporters of the Labour Party.

    So the bottom line is that the Third Sector and its funding is a means of political patronage that encourages loyalty to and support for the Labour Party.

  3. Thanks for the comments.

    R - Yes, I did mention that. It's likely to become even more prevalent if NE Wales becomes more reliant on hospitals in Cheshire for neo-natal services, as Betsi Cadwaladr LHB proposes.

    Jac - I don't doubt that you end up with very niche groups dedicated to "doing something". It might make sense in an "empire building" perspective - and yeah, making sure Labour chums have some job security. However, if there are no real outcomes from these schemes then it does Labour down, and doesn't really make them look good at all - just wasteful.

    So I imagine most of these groups do just about enough to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb come audit time - until AWEMA.

    Some of these groups and communities have probably been so starved for attention that they'll be grateful for any sort of recognition - even if any real help isn't forthcoming.

  4. As always, an excellent posting! Thanks.

  5. Interesting posting. Wales is unlike most countries though in that alot of our health infrastructure for the border counties lies outside Wales. Alot of people born in those hospitals consider themselves Welsh in any case, but it confuses some aspects of identity.

    I don't really know about Jac's comment. Do we really have that many ethnic minority groups? I wouldn't say we have a higher ratio than Scotland, where there's a nationalist Governemnt and they use grant funding in a similar way.

    Labour's presence in the third sector is more of a symptom of their political power rather than a cause of their power. There's plenty of Plaid Cymru people (I'm aware Jac isn't a Plaid supporter but just using the comparison) in the third sector too, and a fair few Lib Dems. The numbers probably broadly reflect how popular those parties are with the electorate and how much influence they have. The key for non-labour parties wanting to build their power is to get more of their people into these organisations, because it equips you with better contacts and influence.

    In Scotland the charity and third sector is heavily funded by the SNP Government. In the wind and renewables sector in particular, to a much higher degree than Wales. It's probably about power and influence but it's not confined to Labour.

  6. maen_tramgwydd - You're welcome!

    Anon 10:45 - If people are assured about their identity, regardless of where they are born, I don't think it's too much of a problem. I can perhaps understand why there aren't extensive medical facilities in sparsely populated parts of Wales. But that doesn't mean something couldn't be provided in the long term. Recent WG actions point to the opposite.

    I think Jac has a point. As I noted, 3 or 4 race-related charities stepped in when AWEMA folded. When ethnic minority populations are so small, you have to question why there couldn't just be a single well-funded, well-run organisation to cover race-related issues in Wales instead of tiny ones - each having their own administration costs.

    If the "Welsh solution" to problems in the 20th century was to form a committee, in the 21st century it's to form a third sector body. Neither really work.

    Personally, I think using "third sector" and charity organisations to build contacts and influence is seedy. There seems to be very little oversight of them and I don't believe many of these organisations have good track records in terms of delivery - regardless of the political persuasions of the people involved. Part of that reason, in my opinion, is because there are simply too many of them fighting over smaller and smaller pots of money.

  7. Here is a blog post on Cornish national identity from the census:

    It must be remembered that Cornish national identity had no specific tick box option and very little publicity that it was even possible. Despite this the numbers claiming a Cornish national identity have doubled between 2001 and 2011.

  8. Thanks, Fulub.

    I was aware of the lack of a Cornish nationality box, and I was genuinely surprised that it wasn't including in the 2011 census. Based on what you say about Cornish identity growing, I'm sure a box will be included in 2021. You only have to look at how long it took for there to be a Welsh box to see how much of a struggle it can be sometimes.

  9. Dydh da Owen,

    I could also mention the PLASC survey: School census shows rise in children who are Cornish:

    We certainly need to keep up the pressure for a Cornish tick-box and to do so all the help we can get from fellow nationalists around these Atlantic Isles. If you should ever blog about the Cornish question do please let me know.