London's population and geography

Date 31 August 2017
Date updated 31 May 2018

These set of indicators explore who lives in London and how it is changing. It sets the context for all the rest of the indicators on this website.

8.8 million people live in London, which is a 16% increase over the last decade, and makes up 13% of the UK population. This growth has been largest in Inner East and South London. There are more than 4 times as many BME people in London (41%) than in the Rest of England (10%). 

London also has far higher proportion of residents aged between 25-34, especially in Inner London where they make up 24% of the population. Net migration into London was almost 60,000 in 2014/2015 (including both international and domestic migration) – the highest figure in four years. This data will not reflect any changes in migration, if any, which have resulted from the Brexit referendum.

Demography: Indicators
Map of London's sub-regions
Image: London is divided into these 5 sub-regions for some administrative and data purposes.
Population of London's sub-regions
Image: London's population by sub-region.

The map and table show London's sub-regions and the breakdown of its population.

Inner East & South London’s population grew the fastest of any of London’s sub-regions over the last decade, by 24%. Inner West’s population grew the slowest, at 8%, the same rate as the rest of England. However, the Inner West still has a similar population density to the Inner East & South.

Inner East & South London has the highest population density of all of London’s sub-regions, 11,200 people per square km. The London average is 5,590 people per square km and the lowest density sub-region is Outer South with 3,600 people per square km. London’s overall p…

London's population over time

London’s population has grown 7.5% in just five years. The UK as a whole has grown by 3.7% over this period, or 3.2% excluding London. The capital contained approximately 13% of the total UK population in 2016.

Inner London’s population has increased by 300,000 since 2011 to 3.5 million while Outer London’s has increased by 350,000 to 5.3 million. Outer London’s population is 60% of the total. These numbers are projected to grow to 3.7 and 5.6 million respectively by 2021. Inner London’s population remains well below its historic peak of 5 million before the Second World War. The 1930s was the last time that the population of Inner London was larger than that of Outer London.

While the overall population of London fell between 1939 and 1991, it has grown rapidly since, by over 1 million in the two decades up to 2011. The population is proj…

Age profile of London population

London’s population by age is structured differently to the rest of England’s. London has a much higher proportion of its population in the age range 25–34 than the rest of England. This is particularly the case for Inner London for which it makes up 24% of the population. It makes up 16% of the Outer London population and 13% of the rest of England population. London also has a higher proportion of children under the age of 5 than the rest of England.

London has a lower proportion of people in all age groups from 45 and above in comparison to the rest of England. The difference starts small at just half a percentage point in the 45 – 49 age group but then increases in each age group to a peak of 2.3 percentage points for 65 – 69 year olds. It then slowly decreases again to just 1 percentage point for those aged…

People moving to and from London

The graph shows how the number of people migrating in and out of London both domestically and internationally has changed over time.

The grey bars show net migration to and from London. That is how many people have moved to London, minus how many people have moved away. This is for both domestic and international migration. It shows that in 2014/15 there was a net inflow of just under 60,000 people to London. The last time there was a net in ow this large was in 2010/11, when it was just over 60,000. The following year there was a significant drop to below 20,000. However the net migration inflow has increased every year since.

The yellow and orange lines show domestic migration, that is migration to and from other parts of the UK. For all years since 2004/05 more people have moved from London to other…

Internal movements graph

This graph looks at how internal migration affects London’s age structure. It shows net internal migration by age group. That is how many people in each age group moved in from other parts of the UK, minus how many people in the same age group moved out to other parts of the UK. London is a net importer of certain young adult age groups, and a net exporter of others.

The figures for Inner London show net migration to and from all other parts of the UK, including Outer London. Negative numbers mean more people in that age group moved out of Inner London than moved in. Positive numbers mean more people moved in. The same principles apply to the figures for Outer London.

The only age groups in which Inner London had a net internal migration inflow are the age groups between 15 and 29. There is a peak in the age group 20 to 24 where 20,000 mor…

Country of birth of London's population - piechart

Here we look at where Londoners were born. The graph shows that a large majority of people living in London were born in the UK.

In the graph below, we have excluded the UK-born population so that it is possible to see more clearly the numbers and change in Londoners born in the next 20 most common countries. The population for most countries has increased over the past decades but there were significant falls in Londoners born in Australia, Ireland, Jamaica and the United States.

The main driver behind London's population growth continues to be an increase in births and longer life expectancy, rather than migration. 

More data on this is available from the London datastore hosted by the GLA.