UK population growing twice as fast as the rest of Europe
Population passes the 64 million mark for the first time with increase in immigration and birth rate
The UK's population grew twice as fast as the rest of Europe's over the last decade, according to the latest official statistics. And the number of people in the country broke through the 64 million mark for the first time last year, as the population grew by 400,000 – equivalent to a city the size of Bristol, reports The Times.
This makes the UK the second most populous country in the EU after Germany, if the French overseas territories are excluded.
Britain's population has grown at a rate of 0.7 per cent a year over the last decade, over twice the EU average of 0.34 per cent.
Immigration accounted for at least 60 per cent of the growth in the last ten years, while a mini baby boom also contributed to the surge.
Overall, the population has grown by five million since 2001, the same amount it gained in the 37 years between 1964 and 2001, says the Office for National Statistics (ONS). London was the fastest growing part of the country, while the south also experienced a high increase.
The ONS says the high levels of immigration have in part been driven by the expansion of the European Union in 2004 and 2007. "This period has also seen an increasing number of births, driven by both the immigration of women of childbearing age and rising fertility among UK-born women," it said.
The population is expected to increase to more than 74 million by 2038. Chris Wilson, assistant professor of demography at the University of Oxford, said that increases in longevity will likely contribute to future growth. "Life expectancy is rising quite quickly and is faster now than any time before," he said.
Alp Mehmet, vice-chairman of the campaign group Migration Watch UK, warned: "The government will have to build schools, GP surgeries, hospitals and homes as well as expand an already creaking infrastructure in order to cope with this demand at a time when there is very little money to spare."