THE SUN DISTORTS POPULATION GROWTH STATISTICS TO STOKE UP MORE FEARS OVER MIGRATION

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It’s the usual story. Research organisation publishes a report aimed at providing an evidence base to inform public policy, the tabloid newspapers sensationalise the report to push their own fear-fuelled agenda.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has produced a short report on growth rates in the UK’s largest cities. It’s been done to help understand population dynamics in these regions so that local authorities can better plan policies and allocate resources.

The report details the growth in 11 populous city regions over a four year period and makes predictions about population growth and spread over the next ten years.

Results show varying growth rates across the cities which are caused by varying rates of births, deaths and migration.

It probably doesn’t take a genius to work out which of these factors The Sun has decided to focus on…

Despite the fact that immigration wasn’t singled out or highlighted as the main factor of growth anywhere in the report, the paper framed the entire study as being about immigration having negative effects on population.

In its article POPULATION EXPLOSION, the paper writes of ‘sky-high’ immigration occurring in cities such as London, Sheffield, Bristol and the West Midlands.

It also writes that the ‘bombshell figures’ reveal that the immigration ‘explosion’ is ‘adding to the huge pressure on public services’ in these regions.

Yet this revelation is not mentioned anywhere in the ONS report. Nor, with the exception of London (which has always had higher that average levels of immigration), are the immigration levels in any of these regions deemed to be particularly high.

The reality, stripped of tabloid hyperbole, is that we are seeing a population increase in part due to effects of migration and in part due to declining death rates as life expectancy increases.

In fact, it’s the ageing population that social policy planners are most concerned about as it leads to greater demographic change and has greater policy implications. If there are more elderly retired people in a society, more money is needed for health and social care so there needs to be some sort of increase in working age population.

An increase in working age migrants is one way of doing this. This will obviously add to the overall population but will help offset the demographic imbalances.

The table below from the ONS report shows how the over-65 age group is increasing faster than all other age groups in all 11 regions studied.

population-growth-by-age

This presents real challenges that will require sufficient planning, which is one of the key themes of the ONS report.

It’s a shame that The Sun overlooked this in favour of yet another knee-jerk article about immigration.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

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