Created 2 years ago, updated a year ago

Introduction

The 2020 mid-year estimate (MYE) is the current official estimate of the population for local authorities in England and Wales. The MYE contains estimates of both population and the components of population change (births, deaths and migration). The estimates are produced annually by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the 2020 MYE was published on 25 June 2021.

The 2020 MYE covers the period to the end of June 2020 and therefore includes the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic (April-June 2020). These estimates do not account for changes to the population which may have occurred since then.

Below is a summary of the 2020 MYE for London and London boroughs. In addition to the MYE data, a alternative population for 2020 based on recent trends in population change is provided for comparison. This GLA alternative estimate indicates what London's population may have been had recent trends continued without disruption into 2020.

Further information on population change in London since the start of the coronavirus pandemic is available in a GLA Demography report: https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/population-change-in-london-during-the-pandemic.

Key Points

  • London's mid-2020 population was 9.002 million
  • London grew by 40 thousand persons (0.45%) in the year to mid-2020
  • There were 116 thousand births and 59 thousand deaths over the year resulting in a natural change of 57 thousand persons
  • Net international migration for the period was an inflow of 85 thousand
  • Net domestic migration was an outflow of 101 thousand
  • Total net migration was therefore an outflow of 17 thousand
  • The GLA estimates that had recent trends continued into 2020 without disruption London's population would have been 9.032 million, 29 thousand higher than the actual estimate

Population change

London's 2020 population was 9,002,488, a increase on 2019 of 40 thousand or 0.45%. This is the first time London's population has passed 9 million. National growth in England over the same period was 0.47%.

Age structure

International migration

Net international migration is the balance of people moving into London from overseas and those leaving London to non-UK destinations. London typically has a high international inflow and lower international outflow. This is partly because a significant number of the people that come to London as international migrants leave London for elsewhere in the UK making them domestic out migrants.

Average net international migration over the last decade (2010-2019) was 95 thousand persons per year. In 2020, net international migration was 85 thousand persons.

International in migration to London over the last decade averaged 197 thousand persons. As noted above, this is offset by both international out migration and domestic out migration. In 2020 there were 200 thousand international in-migrants to London.

Like international in migration, the level of international out migration fluctuates but remains within a relatively small range - over the last decade an average of 101 thousand people left London annually for locations outside the UK. In 2020 there were 116 thousand international out-migrants from London.

The difference between the GLA alternative 2020 estimate of international migration and the MYE is not significant. The GLA estimate has a lower international outflow and a higher international inflow than the ONS MYE, however the differences in the gross flows cancel each other and net international migration is similar in both estimates - they differ by just 18 thousand.

Domestic migration

Domestic migration is the movement of people within the UK. Net domestic migration shows the balance between those coming into London from elsewhere in the UK and those leaving London for somewhere else in the UK. As noted above, there is a strong relationship between international in migration and domestic out migration.

The axis on the chart is negative meaning that more people leave London than enter. In recent years the level of net domestic migration has been at very high levels. In 2020, 101 thousand more people left London than settled here.

The way that domestic flows are calculated was changed in 2017 to improve the quality of the data. However, as a result it is difficult to draw comparisons between the pre-2017 and post-2017 data. In 2020, 219 thousand people moved to the capital, a fall of 36 thousand on the 2019 flow.

Domestic outflows also decreased in 2020 compared to previous years. A total of 320 thousand people left London for another part of the UK in 2020, a fall of 29 thousand on the 2019 value.

Note that these data do not include moves between London Boroughs, only moves into and out of the capital.

London's population growth and structure are heavily influenced by domestic migration. Traditionally, young adults move to the capital in their 20s and early 30s for work and to take advantage of London's cultural offer. As the cohort ages they form partnerships and families and move out of London (along with many who initially came to the capital as international migrants) either to the commuter belt or further afield.

The impact of the pandemic on these established patterns of behaviour, and more broadly on the question of where people choose to live in the UK, has been an area of significant interest, debate and conjecture.

While the domestic gross flows of people in and out of London differed between the MYE and the GLA alternative 2020 estimate, the net flow was the same in both estimates (101 thousand).