The charts below are an initial exploration of Census 2011 data on live births in England and Wales. They show respectively the number of births from foreign born mothers (Chart 1), their country of origin (Chart 2) and the oveall number of live birth by the country of origin of mother and father (Chart 3). They should be read in the context of the overall significant increase in the foreign born population over the last decade: 13 % (7.5 m) of residents of England and Wales on 27/3/2011 were born outside of the UK , of whom half of them arrived in the last 10 years. Data on the country of origin of foreign born mothers show that a significant part of them are likely to be new migrants.

Before moving on, it is worth noticing that the 7.5m foreing born residents mentioned early on are not all immigrants as many are naturalised British citizens or British citizens born abroad – some Tabloids don’t seem to appreciate the difference. In particular, according to the Census data, nearly 4.8 million residents hold a non-UK passport, of which 2.3 million are from EU member states.

chart 1 census 2011UK-born children to foreign born parents count for about 25.5% of live births in England and Wales, and the proportion has stayed about the same in the last four years [Chart 1]. In London, where the presence of non-UK born residents is significantly higher than in the rest of the country – about the 37%  of the population – the children born to mothers born outside the UK reaches 56.7%, with peak in boroughs like Newham (77 %) and Brent (75%), that is respectively 4 out of 5 and 3 out of 4 newborns are born to foreign born mothers.

Data on live births are particularly interesting because they open a (partial) window of how the population of Britain will look like in the near future in terms of ethnic and religious make-up [Chart 2], an obsession of the anti-immigration lobby. The case of places like Newham is a fascinating one for its capacity to destabilize established assumptions and understandings around whiteness, alienhood and Britishness.

chart 2 census 2011Children born in the UK to EU nationals (especially Poles and Germans) and to citizens of Middle East and other Asian countries – the way the Census groups nationalities would deserve a separate discussion – are the main contributors to this group.

Chart 3, instead, focuses on the country of origin of new parents. The inclusion of information on both mothers and fathers is a relatively new and important addition to the Census and offers some insights on the microlevel of family relations and can inform reflection on the relationship between legal status (public sphere) and intra-hosehold relations (private sphere), with an additional intergenerational dimension if we take into account the experience and positions of children born in the UK. This has interesting resonances with current litereature on the biopolitics of mixing.

chart 3 census 2011Chart 3 should be read together with the data coming from the Census 2011 ethnic/racial categories (problematic as they are!) that shows that 12% (2 million) of households includes members of different ethnic groups in 2011, a 3% increase on 2001.

(Source: Office of National Statistics, Census 2011: Data sets and reference tables)