Half a million came to UK after EU expansion
Richard Ford, Home Correspondent
From Times Online
December 8, 2009
More than half a million East Europeans came to the UK in the four years after the EU expanded to include eight former Soviet bloc states, according to figures published today.
The vast majority of those heading to Britain in the biggest wave of immigration in UK history were young men and women seeking work.
As they arrived, the number of East Europeans in Britain aged over 65 many of whom came in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War fell to 30,000.
Jill Matheson, the national statistican, says in her annual report on the population that between 2001 and 2008 the number of UK residents born in the eight East European EU countries rose sixfold.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the numbers rose from an estimated 114,000 in 20001 to 167,000 in 2004 before jumping to 689,000 last year.
The report says that people born in Poland, Slovakia and Lithuania formed the largest proportion of East Europeans arriving in the UK.
Poles made up half the East European-born residents in 2001 but within seven years the proportion had soared to three quarters.
Overall, East European-born residents represented just over 1 per cent of the UKs 61.4 million population.
But people from Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia have started to leave Britain.
The numbers leaving more than doubled to 69,000 between 2007 and 2008 as the economy started to head into a downturn and then a full-blown recession.
The UKs total population is projected to rise to 71.6 million by 2033 and the country is set to become greyer.
Todays report predicts that by 2033 the number of people over 85 will have risen to 3.3 million, comprising about 5 per cent of the population.
It suggests that the number of people aged 65 and over will account for 23 per cent of the population while the proportion aged 16 to 64 will fall from 65 to 59 per cent.
This is due to increasing numbers of people from the 1960s baby boom, who are currently working age, but who will be entering retirement, the report says.
As the UK becomes an older population, growing numbers are deciding to live alone.
The number of single-person households rose by 73 per cent from 4.3 million to 7.5 million between 1981 and 2008 with much of the rise being driven by people of a working age living alone.
Two thirds of single households in 1981 were people of pensionable age but by last year this had fallen to half.
Last year a record proportion of births were to mothers born outside the UK, according to other ONS figures published today.
A total of 170,834 births in England and Wales, or 24 per cent, were to women born outside the UK the higest proportion since full records began to be kept in 1969. The proportion has increased every year since 1990 when it stood at 12 per cent.
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