New census results reveal number of Jews in England and Wales

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New census results reveal number of Jews in England and Wales

Figures for the 2021 census show slight increase - from 265,00 in 2011 to 271,000 in 2021 - but overall statistics show 22 million people in England and Wales ticked 'no religion'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

There are 271,000 Jews living in England and Wales, according to the results of the 2021 Census.

The figure, published by the Office For National Statistics, showed there had been a slight rise in the Jewish population over the past decade.

The same census conducted in 2011 had showed there were 265,000 Jews in England and Wales.

The 2021 result mean that as a percentage UK Jews continue to account for 0.5 percent of the overall population in this country.

But the ONS urged caution when comparing results to previous data because the religion question was voluntary – and some many have chosen not to answer it when completing the census.

In total, 94.0% of the overall population in England and Wales (56.0 million people) chose to answer the religion question in 2021.

This is a higher percentage than in 2011, when 92.9% (52.1 million) answered the religion question and 7.1% (4.0 million) chose not to answer.

For the first time in a census of England and Wales, less than half of the population (46.2%, 27.5 million people) described themselves as “Christian”, a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 59.3% (33.3 million) in 2011; despite this decrease, “Christian” remained the most common response to the religion question.

“No religion” was the second most common response, increasing by 12.0 percentage points to 37.2% (22.2 million) from 25.2% (14.1 million) in 2011.

The biggest decline in religious affiliation came amongst Christians.

In 2011 there were 33 million Christians in England and Wales, but in 2021 27.5 million.

Census 2021 showed those identifying as Muslim rose from 2.7 million to 3.9 million people in England and Wales.

Hindus accounted for one million people, up from 818,000, while those identifying as Sikh rose from 423,00 to 524,000.

@jewishnewsuk Census 2021, explained by our own, Richard Ferrer. #census2021 #learnontiktok #explainer #learnmore #learnitontiktok #history #jewish #jewishnews ♬ QUIET DOWN 2 – Madison Malone

“The census provides a unique and comprehensive understanding of everyone’s self-defined cultural identity, which in turn leads to a more accurate picture of the population,” Census Deputy Director Jon Wroth-Smith said.

“Today’s data highlights the increasingly multi-cultural society we live in. The percentage of people identifying their ethnic group as ‘White: English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British’, continues to decrease. Whilst this remains the most common response to the ethnic group question, the number of people identifying with another ethnic group continues to increase.

“However, the picture varies depending on where you live. London remains the most ethnically diverse region of England, where just under two-thirds identify with an ethnic minority group, whereas under 1 in 10 identify this way in the North East.

“But despite the ethnically diverse nature of society, 9 in 10 people across England and Wales still identify with a UK national identity, with nearly 8 in 10 doing so in London.”

London remained the most religiously diverse region of England.

“Christian” was still the most common response in London (40.7%, 3.6 million of all usual residents).

Over a quarter (25.3%, 2.2 million) of London’s population identified with a religion other than “Christian”, up from 22.6%, 1.8 million, in 2011.

The next most common religious groups in London were “Muslim” (15.0%, up from 12.6% in 2011) and “Hindu” (5.1%, up from 5.0% in 2011).

The decennial 2021 censuses of England and Wales and of Northern Ireland took place on 21 March 2021, and the census of Scotland took place on 20 March 2022.

Information on religion from Census 2021 shows Jewish population trends over the first two decades of the 21stcentury more accurately than ever.

Since 2001 it has included a question on religion.

Many people and organisations used information from the 2011 Census in a variety of ways.

Census information helps communal charities plan how to support those most in need.

Elderly care charities use the information to plan how many care home places will be needed in the future.

Children’s charities use the information to see how many Jewish children are living with learning disabilities in different parts of England and Wales.

It was also essential for the charity Redbridge Council for Voluntary Services to help people from ethnic minority groups learn more about dementia.

Dr Jonathan Boyd, Executive Director of the Jewish Policy Reseach Insitute said: “Few people today understand or appreciate just how important the census is. But there is nothing like it. Its extraordinary detail allows us to see and understand the UK’s entirely unique ways. It is, without question, the most important research exercise in the UK.”



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