London's population

Date 31 August 2017
Date updated 20 April 2020

London's Poverty Profile is divided into five themes: 

  • People; 
  • Living standards;
  • Housing;
  • Work, worklessness and benefits; and 
  • Shared opportunities. 

Each one provides insights into a range of different indicators of poverty and inequality across London, drawing comparisons over time, between different boroughs and with the rest of the country.

The People theme gives an overview of the demography and rich diversity of London and Londoners. It provides a frame through which poverty and inequality of outcomes can be explored across London's Poverty Profile.

People: Indicators

Reasons for not working for men and women aged 16-64 in London (2019/20)

This indicator shows the reasons for not working for men and women. The largest difference is amongst those who are looking after their family or home. There are 326,000 women within this category, but only 24,000 men (meaning roughly 13.5 times more women than men) are not working due to taking care of their family and home. In contrast, unemployment is higher amongst men  (131,800) than women (96,000).

Infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births (2001-2018)

In 2016-2018, the average number deaths per 1,000 live births was higher in England (3.9) than in London (3.3). 

Infant mortality rates have fallen significantly in both London and England over the last two decades. In 2001-2003 the rate was slightly higher in London than in England overall, with an average of 5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, while in England this figure was 5.4. In 2009-2011, the infant mortality rates were on average similar (4.4) in both London and England. 

Since 2001-03, the infant mortality rate has fallen further in London (a reduction of 2.4 per 1,000 live births) than in England (a reduction of 1.5 per 1,000 live births).

Infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births by London borough (2016-18)

Whilst infant mortality rates vary significantly across London boroughs, in all but eight boroughs, they are lower than in England overall. 

The average number of deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016 to 2018 was 3.3 in London, whereas in England it was 3.9. Kingston upon Thames is the borough with the highest infant mortality rate in London (5.6 per 1,000 live births). Richmond upon Thames is the London borough with the lowest infant mortality rate (1.5 per 1,000 live births).

Premature deaths per 100,000 under-75 year olds by London borough (2016-18)

The rate of premature deaths is lower in the majority of London boroughs compared to England overall. However, 10 London boroughs have rates of premature deaths that are higher than that of England overall.

Premature deaths are calculated as an average across three years (from 2016 to 2018) and look at the mortality rate for all deaths under the age of 75. They are presented as a rate per 100,000 people aged under 75 in each area.

The average number of deaths per 100,000 under-75 year olds in England is 332, whereas in London it is 310. Barking and Dagenham has, on average, the highest premature death rate (400 per 100,000 under-75 year olds), whereas City of London has the lowest rate (222 per 100,000 under-75 year olds).

Childhood obesity for children in Year 6 by London borough (2008/09 and 2018/19)

Childhood obesity is more prevalent in London than England overall. In 2018/19, some 23.2% of children in Year 6 were considered obese in London, compared to 20.2% in England. 

Over the last decade, the prevalence of childhood obesity has risen by 1.9 percentage points in both London and England overall. The majority of boroughs had a higher prevalence of childhood obesity than England overall in both 2008/09 and 2018/19. 

Public Health England’s latest figures in 2018/19 show that Barking and Dagenham has the highest proportion of childhood obesity out of all London boroughs at 29.6%. The borough also had the largest rise in childhood obesity since 2008/09 (a 5.5 percentage point increase). At the other end of the scale, 10.7% of Year 6 children in Richmond upon Thames are obese, and this rate has fallen by nearly a percentage point since…

Life expectancy at birth by London borough (2016-18)

This indicator shows overall life expectancy at birth as well as healthy life expectancy. The latter indicates the number of years a person can expect to live in good health rather than with a disability or in poor health.

Overall life expectancy is higher for women than for men in 2016 to 2018. This is true across all London boroughs. However, this is less clear for healthy life expectancy, with some boroughs having a longer healthy life expectancy for men than women. For example, healthy life expectancy for men in Tower Hamlets is 60.5 years whereas for women it is only 56.6 years.

The highest life expectancy for women (87 years) is found in Camden, while for men the highest life expectancy is 83.9 years in Westminster. The lowest life expectancy for both men (78 years) and women (82.7 years) is found in Barking and Dagenham, however it …

London's sub-regions (2018)

Key population statistics for London and it's sub-regions

Region Total population Population change Population per km2 % BME % not UK-born
London sub-region: Central 1,564,700 +13% 12,129 38% 41%
London sub-region: East 2,836,800 +16% 6,154 45% 34%
London sub-region: North 996,600 +12% 2,162 37% 38%
London sub-region: South 1,629,100 +9% 4,188 30% 28%
London sub-region: West 1,880,800 +9% 4,774 48% 42%
London 8,908,000 +12% 5,667 41% 36%
Rest of England 47,069,200 +7% 366 11% 11%

Data source: Mid-year population estimates (2018), Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality, Annual Population Survey (2018), ONS. Ethnic group populations from Annual Population Survey ONS, via London Datastore

More than 8.9 million people live in London. Between 2008 and 2018, London’s population increased at a faster rate than the rest of England. East London saw the biggest increase (16%), in comparison to London’s overall growth of 12%, and the rest of England’s growth of 7%. 

In terms of living proximity, Central London has the highest level of population density with 12,129 people per km2, which is over twice the level of London overall. Still, London is 15 times more dense than the rest of England, with 5,667 and 366 people per km2 respectively.

In terms of one aspect of diversity, 41% of Londoners are Black and Mino…

London's population over time (1931-2030)

The size of London’s population has changed dramatically over the past century; falling from a pre-Second World War high of 8.6 million people in 1939 to around 6.8 million in the 1980s. The fall was most pronounced in Inner London, which saw its population reduce by almost half over 50 years. 

London’s population has been growing since the early 1990s and hit a new high of 8.9 million in 2018. In a reversal of the mid-20th Century trend, both Inner and Outer London have been growing steadily, although Inner London is still a million people short of its population in 1931. By 2030, London’s population is expected to be almost 10 million.

Population by age-groups (2018)

London’s population is young (average age 36.5) compared to the UK overall (40.3).

More than one in 10 people living in Inner London (11.7%) are aged between 30 and 34. This compares to just 6.2% of those in the rest of England. More broadly, in Inner London, almost half the population is made up out of those who are in their early twenties to early forties (47%), compared to the rest of England where three in 10 (31%) are in this age group, and Inner London is home to a higher proportion of young people than Outer London. 

This is caused by people moving to Inner London for work early in their careers and then leaving as they start families. The largest five-year age band is 30 to 34 year olds in Inner London, 35 to 39 year olds in Outer London and 50 to 54 year olds in the rest of England. A small proportion of London’s population is ove…

Migration in and out of London over time (2009/10 - 2018/19)

Net migration plays a relatively small role in explaining the increase in population seen in London over the last decade. Other indicators on London's Poverty Profile show that the fact that there are far more births than deaths in London each year (over 70,500 more births than deaths in 2019) is the main contributor to London’s increasing population. In fact, net migration reduced the overall population of London by more 23,120 in 2016/17 and 16,583 in 2018/19, as more people left London than moved to London.

Net migration into London from the rest of the UK and overseas has fallen from nearly 50,000 people a year in 2014/15 to under 10,000 in 2017/18. This is mostly the result of more people moving from London to the rest of the UK and fewer people coming to London from abroad. 

More people leave London for the rest of the UK than m…

Net migration in Inner and Outer London by age (2018)

This indicator shows the difference between the number of people arriving and leaving either Inner and Outer London, by different age groups. A negative number shows that there are more people leaving than arriving.

In 2018, Inner London saw large net inflows of those aged between 20 and 24 (20,734 people) and those aged between 25 and 29 (9,844). Outer London saw a net inflow of those aged between 20 and 24 (9,360 people). 

In contrast, net migration in both Inner and Outer London was negative for those aged below 15 and above 29. Net outflows from Inner London are particularly evident for those aged between 30 and 39.

London's non-UK born population by country of birth (2008 and 2018)

Of Londoners not born in the UK, more were born in India than any other country. 300,000 Londoners were born in India and around 140,000 each were born in Bangladesh, Poland and Romania. 

The foreign-born population in London from most countries has increased since 2008. For example, there were nearly 100,000 more people born in India living in London in 2018 than there were in 2008. The population of those born in Romania more than quadrupled over the decade and the number of people who were born in Italy has trebled. There are 18,000 fewer Kenyan-born Londoners in 2018 compared to 2008 and the population of Zimbabwean-born Londoners has fallen by 40%.

Births and deaths in London (2009-2019)

Each year, more people are born in London than die. 119,000 babies were born in 2019 and 49,000 people died, causing a net natural population change of 71,000. 

The number of births in London has fallen slightly from 134,000 following a mini baby boom in years running up to 2012. Newham and Tower Hamlets were the boroughs with the highest levels of net births in 2019 with 4,200 and 3,300 respectively.

Child dependency ratio by area over time (2000 - 2030)

Compared to the rest of England, the child dependency ratio is higher in Outer London, but lower in Inner London. 

In Outer London, there are 34 children for every 100 working-age adults compared to 31 in the rest of England, and 26 in Inner London. 

The child dependency ratio is an indication of how many under 16s working-age people need to support. Since 2000, the child dependency ratio has fallen in Inner London and the rest of England but risen in Outer London. Across London and England, the child dependency ratio is projected to peak in 2020 before gradually declining.

Old-age dependency ratio by area over time (2000 - 2030)

London has a lower old-age dependency ratio than the rest of England; in Inner London in 2018, there were 13 people over the age of 65 for every 100 working-age adults. This compares to 21 in Outer London and 31 in the rest of England. 

The dependency ratio reflects the degree to which the working-age population and national and local government might need support those who are retired. As the population ages, the dependency ratio is projected to increase. The dependency ratio is set to increase faster in Inner London than the rest of England - by about a third versus by about a quarter - although it is starting from a lower base in Inner London.

Proportion of adults in poverty by highest obtained qualification level (2018-19)

People with higher qualification levels are less likely to live in poverty. In London, 32% of people with less than 5 GCSEs and equivalent as their highest qualifications were in poverty. This compares to 22% of people with 5 GCSEs or higher as their highest qualifications. 

As with other poverty indicators, poverty rates are greater in London than the rest of England for both people with and without GCSEs. In fact, poverty rates in London for those with 5 GCSEs or higher are only two percentage points lower than for those with low qualifications in the rest of England.

Qualification levels of disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged KS5 leavers in London (2018)

In 2018, the majority of London’s KS5 school leavers of both disadvantaged (71%) and non-disadvantaged (77%) backgrounds had Level 3 qualifications (e.g. A-levels).

This is in contrast to the rest of England. Here, while around the same proportion (76%) of non-disadvantaged KS5 school leavers had Level 3 qualifications, only 51% of disadvantaged KS5 school leavers had a Level 3 qualification.

According to the Department for Education, students are considered disadvantaged in Year 11 and attract pupil premium funding if they are eligible for free school meals at any point in the last six years, have been looked after by the local authority, or have been adopted from care.

Net population change in London (2009/10 - 2018/19)

Each year, the number of births in London significantly outweighs the number of deaths. This means that natural population change (births minus deaths) is consistently a much greater contributor to population growth in London than migration. 

For example, in 2018/19 there were 71,000 more births than deaths in London whilst net migration was negative 17,000. Over the last five years, natural population change has increased London’s population by close to 400,000, or 91% of the total increase in population. In contrast, net migration contributed less than 40,000 (9% of the increase in population).

Proportion of households in poverty by family type (2018-19)

Poverty rates amongst most household types in London are higher than in the rest of England. For example, the poverty rate for couple pensioners (22%) in London is almost twice that of couple pensioners (12%) in the rest of England. Similarly, 29% of couples with children are in poverty in London compared to 22% in the rest of England. Couples without children have similar poverty rates in both London (13%) and the rest of England (12%).

Single parents with children are more likely to be in poverty than any other type of household. Over half of single parents in London (53%) were in poverty, more than four times the proportion of couples without children. 

The biggest gap in poverty rates between London and the rest of England is found with couple pensioners, where 22% live in poverty in London, but only 12% do outside of the capital.

Highest qualification levels obtained for working-age population by London borough (2019)

There is a large variation between London boroughs in terms of the proportion of the working-age population that have degree-level or above qualifications. Wandsworth has the highest proportion of its working-age population with degree-level or above qualifications (66.9%), whilst Barking and Dagenham has the lowest (24%).

More than one in 10 of the working population in Hackney (10.8%), Islington (10.5%), Hounslow (10.5%), and Newham (10.1%) are without any formal qualifications.

Economic activity status of Londoners aged 16 and over (2020)

Over 4.6 million Londoners - 66% of the adult population - are in work of some kind. This is higher than the 60% of adults who are employed in the rest of England. 34% of adults in London are economically inactive. 

There are over 360,000 more men in work in London than women. The men who work in London are also more likely to be self-employed, with 16% of men who work in London doing so for themselves compared to 8% of women. 

Women are significantly more likely to be economically inactive than men, with 40% of women not working compared to 28% of men. For many types of inactivity, women and men have very similar rates, including long-term sickness, studying and unemployment. 

However, women were significantly more likely to not be working because they were looking after the home or family, with 9% of women -  just over 335,000 people - be…

These maps show data from our London borough comparison tile.

Boroughs have been labelled higher, lower, or mid (average) according to threshold values of one standard deviation above or below the mean of all the borough values.

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