Monday, July 16, 2012

Census results - First Release - Phase 1

The first figures from the 2011 census have been relased by NISRA.

I have taken some of the more interesting statistics that have been released and will expand in due course.

"In 2001, a person aged 35 would have been in the older half of the population in Northern Ireland. In 2011 a person would need to have been aged 38 to be in the older half of the population"

We can take from this that the age of 37 represents the median age of the population (half the population is aged under 37 years and half the population is aged over 37 years). This is interesting because the 2001 census showed that the 'tipping point' between the two main religous groups was age 27 (Census table s306a). That is, those people under the age of 27 were majority Catholic and those over the age of 27 were majority Protestant. All things being equal we can assume that the 'tipping point' has increased 10 years to the age of 37, the exact same as the median age. This would mean that parity has been reached between the two main religous groups in the North. However all is not equal. We know that the older half of the populus have a larger Protestant majority than the Catholic majority among the younger half. By how much? We do not know exactly. All will be revealed when Phase 2 & 3 of the census are released later in the year.

What we do know is what the religious breakdown of the 'big three' blocks was in 2001. Table S306 of the 2001 census tells us that Protestants made up 53.1% of the population, Catholics made up 43.8% and Others made up the remaining 3.1%. We aslo know of demographic factors such as a high Catholic birth rate, a Catholic majority in our Schools (53%) and Universities (66%). We know that 51% of applicants and 52% of appointees to the workforce are Catholic. We know that the 2001 census revealed that Protestants make up 66% of the 65 years and older age cohort. This is reflected in the higher death rate in majority Protestant areas.

We are less certain of the other major factor which will effect the full census results. Migration. It is clear that there has been a sharp increase in immigration but what effect this will have on the general population remains to be seen. In terms of Emigration one can assume that as the economy has fallen the numbers of young people moving abroad to work has sharply increased. Again we will have to wait to see what effect this will have on the population but my guess that emigration of the two main communities in the North is similar.

Therefore when Phase 2 & 3 figures are released it is likely that the Catholic and Other percentages will show an increase on the 2001 figure. This would mean that the Protestant figure will decrease.

The reason for the partition of Ireland was to manufacture a Protestant majority in the North. A decrease of 3.1% or more on the 2001 figure will mean that the purpose of the sectarian carve up of Ireland is defunct as the Protestant population will have fallen below 50%.

Table 1 – Census Year Population Estimates by Age (1911 and 2011) Age Group 1911 2011
Number % Number %
0-15 404,400 32% 379,300 21%
16-39 467,500 37% 593,800 33%
40-64 267,700 21% 574,000 32%
65-84 106,900 9% 232,300 13%
85+ 4,100 0.3% 31,400 1.7%
Total 1,250,500 100% 1,810,900 100%
(Census 2011)


  1. Interesting stuff Enda, good work.
    I hope you don't mind but I lifted some data for my own site, with a credit and a link, of course,

  2. Bangordub. No problem, no need to ask

  3. Cheers,
    the link is


  5. Very interesting, Enda. Thanks for the link. Care to hazard a guess what September will be bring (besides falling leaves)?

  6. I see the 2010 population figures for age bands on the ninis website have over estimated the age group 20-29 by 7000 or so compared to census figures.

    Will this affect their estimate for population growth in some council areas? I guess we'll see come Sept when the council areas are released. Will also be able to see if nationalist or unionist areas have been more affected by young workers emigrating.


  7. Forgot to add young ones heading to university for this age band will make it a bit harder to work out emigration figures.