Thursday, January 3, 2013

Census 2011 - Second Release

On 11 December the second phase of Census 2011 was published. The results included the breakdown of the 'religion or religion brought up in'. In March 2011 on the date of the census, there were 875,717 Protestants and other Christians (48%), 817,385 Catholics (45%) and 117,761 of Other Religion or No Religion (7%).

The 2001 census showed  there were 895,377 Protestants and other Christians (53%), 737,412 Catholics (44%) and 52,478 of Other Religion or No Religion (3%).

The gap between the two main blocks has decreased by 99,633 from 157,965 to 58,332 in ten years. This represents a reduction of nearly 10,000 per year. If current trends continue parity will be achieved at some point in 2016.

In relation to national identity 40% declared themselves to be British, 25% as Irish, and 21% as Northern Irish. Some Unionists argue that the 21% who declared as Northern Irish have made a political statement rather than stating a geographical fact. This is a comfort blanket. While there is a very strong correlation between religion and voting patterns in elections, we simply do not know how the 'Northern Irish' would vote.

Much has been written about this census from various newspaper articles, blogs and discussion forums. However the piece that struck me the most has come from an unlikely source. I am of the opinion that the Irish Independent is an anti-nationalist/republican newspaper. However it was this very newspaper article which has the cop on to know that the current trouble in greater Belfast is not really about the "fleg". No it is about rejecting democracy and changing demographics, change demonstrated in the 2011 census.



  1. great blog. do you have the "sectarian headcount" trend figures going back to partition. Would be interesting to see how the changes to the 2 main blocs has changed over time (i.e. if change slowing or accelerating).


    The above link has a table about half way down which shows the increase in the catholic population at every census since 1961 where it has increased from 35.3% to 45.14%.
    The 1961 figure is very similar to the 2-1 split at the time of partition and would suggest a great many more catholics than protestants left the state during those years for various reasons. The increase in the last 10 years has been quite disappointing with only a 1.38% increase most of which is due to eastern european immigration. These figures have given a number of unionists belief that the 50%+1 scenario will never be achieved. This may be true but one small point they are forgetting is that the last 10 years has been economically very hard and just like the first 40 years of Northern Ireland a number of cathoics have emigrated - I dont know what the numbers are but maybe Enda has more info. Only time will tell if these people will return and likewise whether or not such emigration continues between now and the next census.
    The other stat which seems to have been buried under the identity figures is that the protestant percentage is only 48% a drop of 5% in only 10 years, we already know that for the school age population the figure is 37%. Some bloggers have scoffed at the dip (more like a crash) and pointed to the fact that all the atheists and non religion crowd are deep down Unionists, however a quick look at the latest beltel/lucid poll shows most actually vote for Nationalist parties. One stat I cant explain for sure is why the Nationalist vote has flatlined at 42%. I can only assume it is a mixture of young catholics not being able to vote or bothering to vote, the older population which is mainly Protestant voting in high numbers, maybe a reduction in nationalist turnout or as has been shown in polls catholics outvoting protestants for the Alliance and Green party. Now I know Robbo has the Catholic unicorns as a comfort blanket but lets be honest it was a lot easier to convince loyal protestants of the benefit of the union than a mixture of catholic unicorns (financially driven) and immigrants who will end up holding the balance of power. Northern Irish politicians might have to start dong some real bread and butter politics to convince people one way or the other instead of just waving a flag at election time Interesting times ahead.

  3. Is there a breakdown by age anywhere?

  4. Boondock. In terms of percentage the 1.38% increase appears low due to the large increase in 'others'. What effect immigration has on the catholic increase is hard to tell until more detailed figures are released. Remember there is also significant Protestant/other christian immigration from britain and elsewhere. Emigration is also an unknown factor but I would guess it is not much higher in either of the two communities than the other.

    The nationalist vote stagnating at 42% is most likely down to nationlist turnout falling at a faster rate than unionist turnout and because older people (mainly unionist) living longer. There is also evidence of Alliance receiving a higher proportion of the Catholic vote.

  5. No breakdown by age yet. 30 January is the next release I think.

  6. Why does the media never mention those Protestants who would prefer to be re-united with the rest of the nation? Fact is, in my own extended family there are 3, that's all of them.
    From a financial point of view those Catholic pro-unionists would surely be better off being paid employee's in the re-united Ireland where wages are substantially greater, particularly for civil servants.
    Finally, why did it take almost two years to publish the results of the census here when Britain and the 26 counties published greater, less predictable numbers in months?

  7. Time to re-partition the state. Give the area west of Lough Neagh to the Republic. Problem solved.