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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rural-population-and-migration/rural-population-201415
The 2001-2015 population change analysis using local authority rural urban classification has been reissued following revisions to the analysis. The revision increases the 2001 population for all age bands and there is a minor revision to the populations for 2015. Reported population changes have been revised accordingly. New statistics on average age have also been included.
Mid-year population 2014
In 2014 the mid-year population estimate (based on Lower Super Output Areas, LSOAs) for England was 54.3 million, of which 9.3 million (17.0 per cent) lived in rural areas and 45.0 million (83.0 per cent) lived in urban areas.
In 2011 the more detailed Census output area-based rural population was 9.3 million (17.6 per cent) while the mid-year population estimate based on LSOAs was 9.1 million (17.2 per cent). Further explanation can be found in footnote 1
In comparing population estimates at LSOA level there was an increase in the rural population from 9.1 million in 2011 (LSOA-based) to 9.3 million in 2014 (LSOA-based), however the proportion of the total population has fallen from 17.2 per cent to 17.0 per cent over the same time period, as the urban population has increased at a faster rate.
Within rural areas, 0.5 million people lived in sparse settings in 2014.
2014 Mid-year population estimates
|Rural town and fringe||5,003,956||9.2|
|of which those in a sparse setting||192,085||0.4|
|Rural village and hamlet||4,256,936||7.8|
|of which those in a sparse setting||298,045||0.5|
|Urban major conurbation||19,415,739||35.7|
|Urban minor conurbation||1,948,518||3.6|
|Urban city and town||23,691,469||43.6|
|of which those in a sparse setting||90,397||0.2|
9.3 million people, or 17.0 per cent of the population, live in rural areas in 2014.
Around 581,000 people, or 1.1 per cent of the population live in settlements in a sparse setting.
Population by age
The population in rural areas has a higher proportion of older people compared with urban areas.
2014 Mid-year population by area and percentage, rural and urban totals
Less than 50 per cent of those living in rural areas are aged below 45 years, compared with almost 60 per cent in urban areas, and overall there are proportionately fewer younger people living in settlements in a sparse area.
2014 Mid-year population by area and percentage, rural and urban classification
The proportion of the population aged under 45 years tends to decline the more rural the settlement type.
Age bands as a percentage of total 2014 mid-year population
|Category||0 – 14
|15 – 29
|30 – 44
|45 – 64
|Rural town and fringe||16.4||15.1||17.0||28.3||23.1|
|of those in a sparse setting||14.6||15.0||15.4||27.9||27.2|
|Rural village and hamlet||15.2||14.1||15.2||31.5||23.9|
|of which those in a sparse setting||13.4||12.7||13.5||32.5||27.9|
|Urban major conurbation||19.0||21.3||22.4||23.2||14.1|
|Urban minor conurbation||17.4||22.5||19.0||24.5||16.6|
|Urban city and town||17.7||19.5||19.4||25.3||18.2|
|of which those in a sparse setting||14.6||15.6||14.9||27.4||27.4|
Percentage of population within age bands by rural-urban classification (LSOA) in England, 2014
Average age of the population
Average age in rural & urban areas in England, 2002 to 2014
The average age in rural areas is higher and has increased faster than in urban areas.
In 2014, the average age of the population in rural village and dispersed areas was 44.8 years and in rural town and fringe areas it was 43.5 years, compared with the average for England of 39.6 years.
The average age was lowest in urban major conurbations at 37.3 years.
The average age in rural areas combined was 44.1 years in 2014, 5.3 years older than in urban areas. The gap in average ages between rural and urban areas widened from 3.4 years in 2002.
The average age in England increased by 1.0 year between 2002 and 2014, but in rural town and fringe areas it increased by 2.3 years and in rural village and dispersed areas by 2.9 years.
Further data can be found in the table Average age of the population in rural and urban areas in England, 2002 to 2014
Index of population change, 2011 to 2014 (2011 = 100)
Index of population in rural areas, 2011 to 2014 (2011 = 100)
Both rural and urban areas have seen an increase in overall population between 2011 and 2014. Rural has increased by 1.4 per cent and urban by 2.5 per cent.
Within rural areas, the greatest rate of population increase was in rural town and fringe areas (1.6 per cent).
Rural villages and hamlets in sparse settings showed the smallest rate of population increase within rural areas (0.1 per cent).
Index of population change, 2011 to 2014 (2011 = 100)
|Rural town and fringe||4,923,340||100.0||4,944,544||100.4||4,970,243||101.0||5,003,956||101.6|
|of which those in a sparse setting||190,696||100.0||190,956||100.1||191,691||100.5||192,085||100.7|
|Rural village and hamlet||4,212,141||100.0||4,224,601||100.3||4,236,224||100.6||4,256,936||101.1|
|of which those in a sparse setting||297,819||100.0||297,813||100.0||297,363||99.8||298,045||100.1|
|Urban city and town||23,170,621||100.0||23,338,595||100.7||23,499,913||101.4||23,691,469||102.2|
|of which those in a sparse setting||90,620||100.0||90,535||99.9||90,578||100.0||90,397||99.8|
|Urban major conurbation||18,890,596||100.0||19,061,090||100.9||19,224,004||101.8||19,415,739||102.8|
|Urban minor conurbation||1,910,471||100.0||1,924,899||100.8||1,935,433||101.3||1,948,518||102.0|
Population at local authority level
Often statistics have to be compiled at the local authority level, when that is the level of the original data, and the rural urban classification for local authorities is used.
This is different from looking at the population using the more detailed rural-urban classification as it is based on whole local authorities. The whole population in an authority will be attributed to the class assigned to the authority. So an authority that is mainly rural or largely rural and hence classed as predominantly rural will have the whole population counted as being in a predominantly rural area, even those living in an urban settlement within that authority, while all those living in a rural area but within an authority classed as urban with significant rural or predominantly urban will not be counted in the predominantly rural figure.
To provide analysis of long-term population change, comparisons are made below between 2001 and 20152 . The 2011-based rural urban classification has been applied to both years to enable comparison, noting that some authorities are likely to have changed classification between the 2001-based and 2011 classifications.
In 2015, 11.4 million people lived in a predominantly rural area, 20.7% of the England population.
51 per cent of the population in predominantly rural areas are over the age of 44, an increase from 45 per cent in 2001.
In comparison, 40 per cent of the population in predominantly urban areas are over the age of 44, an increase from 37 per cent in 2001.
The population in predominantly rural areas has increased by 9.5 per cent between 2001 and 2015, compared with 10.8 per cent for England as a whole and 11.6 per cent in predominantly urban areas.
It is across age-bands that the differences in population changes are more evident between predominantly rural and predominantly urban areas. Whilst the changes in population show some similarities, predominantly rural areas have proportionately seen large falls in the population aged 30 to 39 and higher proportional increases in the older population.
The population aged 65 and over increased by 37 per cent in predominantly rural areas between 2001 and 2015, compared with 17 per cent in predominantly urban areas.
Predominantly rural areas have seen an increase of 7 per cent in infants (0-4 year olds) compared with a 22 per cent increase in predominantly urban areas.
The charts below show the populations for predominantly rural and predominantly urban areas, by age band, comparing 2001 and 2015.
Population in predominantly rural areas by age bands, 2001 and 20153 , England
(scale differs to predominantly urban graph so the two are not directly comparable)
Population in predominantly urban areas by age bands, 2001 and 20153 , England
Population in predominantly rural and urban areas by age bands, 2001 and 20153 , England, combined to show both rural and urban at same scale
Percentage change in population in predominantly rural areas by age band between 2001 and 20153, England
Percentage change in population in predominantly urban areas by age band between 2001 and 20153, England
Further data can be found in the table Population in 2001 and in 2015 by rural urban classification and population change, by age band, in England.
1This analysis uses mid-year population estimates, produced by the ONS. While these indicators are broadly in line with census level population data, there are minor differences relating to the area classifications: Census population data are based on output areas (OAs, approx. 300 people), and mid-year population estimates are based on lower super output areas (LSOAs, approx. 3000 people). The larger the area the more likely it is to contain an urban settlement and be classified as urban. Analysis using LSOAs may slightly under-estimate the rural population.
The estimated resident population of an area includes all those people who usually live there, regardless of nationality. Arriving international migrants are included in the usual resident population if they remain in the UK for at least a year. Emigrants are excluded if they remain outside the UK for at least a year. This is consistent with the United Nations definition of a long-term migrant. Armed forces stationed outside of the UK are excluded. Students are taken to be usually resident at their term time address.
Source: Small Area Population Estimates 2013, Office for National Statistics. © Crown Copyright 2016.
These data use RUC2011.
2Analysis presented in the previous section was based on Lower Super Output Areas, for which the latest mid-year estimates are for 2014. At Local Authority level mid-year population estimates are available for 2015.
3The 2011 rural urban classification has been applied to both years to enable comparison.