NEWS30 November 2022

Christianity declines to less than 50% of the population, census finds

News People Public Sector Trends UK

UK – England and Wales are no longer majority Christian nations and have become more diverse in ethnicity and nationality, according to the 2021 census.

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The census, which released its ethnicity, national identity, language and religion results yesterday, found that 46.2% of the population described themselves as Christian, the lowest response in its history and a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 2011.

‘No religion’ was the second highest response at 37.2% of the country, up 12 points from 2011.

Wales had a greater decrease in people reporting their religion as Christian, with a 14-percentage point decrease from 57.6% in 2011 to 43.6% in 2021, and an increase in ‘no religion’ from 32.1% in 2011 to 46.5% in 2021.

Other major religions seen in the census was Muslim ( 6.5%) and Hindu ( 1.7%), both of which rose from 4.9% and 1.5% in 2011 respectively.

London was the most religiously diverse part of the country, with more than a quarter of residents reporting a religion other than Christian, while the northeast and southwest were the least religiously diverse, at 4.2% and 3.2% choosing other religions.

In total, 94% of respondents chose to answer the optional question on religion in the census.

Other findings in the census included that in 2021, 81.7% of usual residents in England and Wales described themselves as ‘white’, down from 86% in 2011.

‘Asian, Asian British or Asian Welsh’ was the next most popular ethnic group at 9.3% of the population, up from 7.5% in 2011.

The largest percentage-point increase was in the ‘other white’ category, which was up from 4.4% of the population in 2011 to 6.2% in 2021.

The proportion of the population describing themselves as ‘black’ rose from 1.8% in 2011 to 2.5% in 2021.

‘Any other ethnic group’ accounted for 1.6% of the population, while 10.1% of households consisted of members identifying with two or more different ethnic groups.

The census found that 90.3% of the population identified with at least one UK national identity, including British, English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or Cornish.

People who said they had both British and non-British identities accounted for 2% of the overall population, while 9.7% had a non-UK national identity, up from 8% in 2011.

Polish was the largest non-UK national identity with 593,000 people or 1% of the population, followed by Romanian ( 477,000 ), Indian ( 380,000 ), Irish ( 300,000 ) and Italian ( 287,000 ).

English was the main language of 91.1% of usual residents, aged three years and over, while a further 7.1 were proficient in English but did not speak it as their main language.

The most common main languages, other than English, were Polish ( 1.1%), Romanian ( 0.8%), Panjabi ( 0.5%), and Urdu ( 0.5%).

Scotland and Northern Ireland carried out separate censuses in 2022 and 2021 respectively.