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Demography overview
  • Norfolk Population
  • Breckland Population
  • Broadland Population
  • Great Yarmouth Population
  • King's Lynn and West Norfolk Population
  • North Norfolk Population
  • Norwich Population
  • South Norfolk Population

Topic summary (January 2014 snapshot)

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Population Age Structure

Norfolk's population was an estimated 865,300 in mid-2012, an increase of 66,700 since mid-2001 (or 8.3 per cent), compared with 7.7% in the East of England. Population density in 2012 was 1.61 people per hectare, the sixth lowest of the 27 English shire counties.

Over this eleven year period:

  • in terms of broad age groups, numbers of children (0-14) rose marginally, numbers of working age adults (15-64) increased by 31,500 and older people (65 and over) increased by 34,500 (21.6%)
  • in terms of more detailed age groups the most significant change was the rising number of 62-69 year olds, reflecting the high birth years of the late 1940s, and to a lesser degree 22-25 and 46-48 year olds, and falling numbers of 34-37 year olds, reflecting smaller peaks and troughs in past births.

The estimates for mid-2012 confirm that Norfolk’s population has a much older age profile than England as a whole. 22.5 per cent of Norfolk’s population in 2012 were aged 65 and over, compared with 16.9 per cent in England, and 10.6 per cent were aged 75 and over compared with 7.9 per cent nationally. The Figure shows the current peak in the 60-64 year olds in Norfolk (due to the post-war baby boom in the late-1940s, supplemented by the gain of older people through net in-migration) and to a lesser extent in 45-49 year olds, due largely to the high birth rate years of the 1960s.

Population Projections

The ONS 2010-based population projections, which are trend-based, suggest that Norfolk’s population could increase from 851,500 in 2010 to 1,022,700 in 2035.

over the twenty-five years to 2035 some increase could be expected across all broad age groups, though with very little change in people aged 45-64. The most significant numerical and proportional increase would be in those aged 75 and over, but there would also be significant increases in ages 65-74. The emphasis is on the increasing number and proportion of older people in the population – 64 per cent of the population increase will occur in ages 65 and over.

These changes would have a significant impact on local demand for health and social services as the prevalence of conditions such as dementia and disabling life events such as heart attack and stroke increase with age. For example, about one in four people aged over 85 develop dementia and this age group is projected to increase by around 42,600 (174%) over 25 years (based on 2008 to 2033). The total number of older people with dementia in Norfolk is therefore expected to increase significantly.

2011-based interim sub-national population projections to 2021 were published in September 2012. These were produced to meet the needs of users who require projections which take account of the Census but are only required to 2021.

2012-based sub-national population projections are scheduled to be published in May/June 2014.

Life Expectancy

The 2010-2012 three-year rolling average life expectancy at birth in Norfolk is 80.0 years for men and 83.8 for women. The comparative rates for the Region are 80.1 and 83.7 respectively, and for England are 79.2 and 83.0, so the County’s averages for both men and women are currently very close to the regional rates.

The expectation of life at age 65 for the same period in Norfolk is 19.3 years for men and 21.8 for women. This is a little above the Regional rate (19.1 for men and 21.5 for women), which itself is above the England rate (18.6 for men and 21.1 for women).

Births and Deaths

In 2012 there were 9,662 live births to mothers resident in Norfolk and 9,104 deaths of Norfolk residents, giving a net gain through natural change of 558 – births have now exceeded deaths for the last three years. The number of births has increased steadily since the historically low figure of 2001 and in 2012 was at the highest level since 1971. The number of deaths has risen steadily, reflecting the growth in population, but the number of births has fluctuated rather more.

The total fertility rate (which is the average number of live-born children that would be born per woman if women experienced the current age-specific fertility rates throughout their childbearing life span) of 1.97 in Norfolk as a whole in 2012 was, lower than for the Region (2.02) but above that for England (1.94). Easily the lowest rate in Norfolk is 1.76 in Norwich. In Norfolk 53.5% of births in 2011 were outside marriage or civil partnership, well above the rate for the Region (45.2%) and England (46.6%).

Under 18 conceptions

The under-18 conception rate in Norfolk was 28.4 per thousand females aged 15-17 in 2011, a continuing reduction from the rate in 2007 and the lowest since 2008. This is higher than the rate for the East of England, but lower than the England rate. The rate has fluctuated over the past decade, though this may partly be due to uncertainty in the population estimates. The most recent quarterly figures fro Norfolk show further reductions – 19.1 per thousand in the December 2012 quarter, compared with 25.1 in the December 2011 quarter.


The County’s ethnic composition has changed significantly since the 2001 Census recorded a minority ethnic population of 30,000 (3.8 per cent of the total). By 2011 this is estimated to have risen to 64,800 (7.6 per cent). Similarly, numbers in ethnic groups other than White rose from 1.5 per cent of the population in 2001 to around 3.5 per cent in 2011.

Some new topics in the 2011 Census

  • Language: The 2011 Census indicated that there were almost 8,000 households in Norfolk where no-one had English as a main language, plus another 6,000 where at least one but not all people aged 16 and over had English as a main language.
  • National identity: Around 41,400 people in Norfolk had a national identity other than one of the British or Irish identities, plus another 4,000 with other identities and at least one of the British or Irish ones.
  • Passports held: The 2011 Census also showed the diversity of passports held by Norfolk residents. There were 22,900 passports held for EU countries outside the UK and Ireland, plus a further 18,500 including Middle East and Africa (6,600) and North America and the Caribbean (5,500).

In the year to September 2011, based on GP patient re-registrations, the County gained around 23,700 migrants from elsewhere in the UK and lost around 20,600, giving a net gain of around 2,800 people. There were net losses in the 15-19, 20-24, 25-29 and 75+ year olds and net gains in all other age groups. People in the older age groups were a relatively small proportion of migrants but accounted for a disproportionately large share of the net migration gains. To illustrate this, migrants aged 50 and over accounted for around 23 per cent of in-migrants and 18 per cent of out-migrants, but 57 per cent of the County’s net migration increase over this period. Around 39 per cent of migration in and out of Norfolk within the UK was with the remainder of the East Region, plus another 26 per cent with London and the South East, making nearly two thirds in total. There was generally a net gain to Norfolk from these Regions across all age groups, except for a small net loss of people aged 16-44 to Cambridgeshire and a loss of young people aged 16-24 to London and the South East.

The migration estimates incorporated in the mid-year estimates of population from 2001 to 2011 are being revised in the light of the results of the 2011 Census. A rebased series of population estimates, including migration components, is due for release around March 2013.

The County has received significant international migration from the EU, originally from Portugal and more recently from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. There is in addition a largely unquantifiable element of international migration attributable to short-term migrants, here primarily to seek work and highly mobile, but unlikely to be counted as part of the resident population.


In March 2011 the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) published the English Indices of Deprivation 2010 (ID 2010). This includes county and district summary measures, and a series of separate domains and other measures at the level of Lower Super Output Area (LSOA). An estimated 47,400 people in Norfolk (5.6 per cent of the area’s population) were living in the most deprived ten per cent of LSOAs in England, according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010. This amounted to 29 LSOAs out of 530 in Norfolk.

People who live in the most deprived areas generally have the poorest health and well being outcomes. On average people living in deprived areas, lower socio-economic groups and marginalised groups have poorer health and poorer access to health care than people resident in affluent areas and people from higher socio-economic groups. There are also hidden pockets of deprivation scattered across some of the smaller towns and the more rural parts of Norfolk.

An update to the ID2010 is planned to be available in 2015.


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