Posted on March 5, 2014

Wales’ Foreign-Born Population Rises by 82 Percent in 10 Years

BBC News, March 4, 2014

Wales’ foreign-born population rose by 82 percent in 10 years, new figures show.

Polish-born people represent Wales’ largest migrant group during the decade up to 2011.

The figures from Oxford University’s Migration Observatory showed the number of migrants living in Wales has soared in recent years.

The population of Wales in 2011 was 3,063,456, with about 167,871 of those born outside the UK.

Merthyr Tydfil saw its migrant population rocket by 227% during the 10 years to 2011 — from just 807 non-UK residents in 2001 to 2,641 by 2011.

Senior researcher Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva said: “The biggest change has been the increase in the Polish-born population, which increased more than twenty-fold, becoming the biggest migrant group in Wales.

“This has been particularly apparent in Merthyr Tydfil which saw the second largest percentage increase in its migrant population of anywhere in Great Britain.”

Wrexham, Swansea and Newport saw their migrant populations more than double in the same period.

Cardiff had Wales’ highest migrant population at 45,967 — an increase of 99% during the 10 years under scrutiny, while Blaenau Gwent had Wales’ smallest foreign-born population at just 1,502.

‘Significant’ increase

According to the report 95% of Polish-born migrants in Wales have arrived since 2001. By 2011 there were 18,023 Polish-born residents, while 10 years previously there were 1,427.

Jolanta Atkinson, chair of the Anglo-Polish Society for Chester and North Wales, has lived in Wales for 40 years.

She said: “When I first came to Bangor, all those years ago, I was the only Polish person. Now it’s a very big community.

“I can see the difference over the last 10 years, where people can speak English now and they send their children to the local school, and they are helping the economy by working and paying taxes.

“The majority are young people who are willing to work hard and bring up their families in Wales.”

She said the chance of greater opportunities for work was the main reason for people wanting to live in Wales.

She added: “Wales is very welcoming and I know people who have praised it as a fabulous country, and they really mean it.

“I’m Polish, my husband is English, but my two children are definitely Welsh.”

The number of Welsh residents born in Ireland was 12,175 in 2011, while 11,874 were born in India.

While Wales saw its migrant population increase more than England and Northern Ireland it still had the smallest proportion of migrants of all the UK nations.

The proportion of foreign-born people in Wales was 5.5%, making it smaller than England (13.8%), Scotland (7%) and Northern Ireland (6.6%).