Northern Ireland census results show population at record high and old outnumbering young

Northern Ireland has recorded its highest ever population of 1.903million people according to the first Census 2021 statistics published on Tuesday.

That represents a 5% increase from the last population count in 2011, with over 90,000 more people living in the region.

Only a limited amount of information has been released so far - more detail about religion, passports held and nationality will be released in the autumn.

Those behind the Census say it's a 'mammoth' exercise to process, code and quality assure all the data collected.

The data released shows the population increase was the greatest in older age groups with the number of people aged 65 or over increasing by nearly 25% to nearly more than 300,000.

Experts say this trend of an ageing population is set to continue as the 'baby boom' generation of the 1950s and 1960s reach retirement.

However, the census did note a falling birth rate, with the number of young children up to the age of four decreasing by 9% from the last Census.

The Census also recorded 769,000 occupied households – again the highest ever. This was 65,000 or nine percent more households than the 2011 Census.

The Registrar General Siobhán Carey said: “I would like to thank the public for their support last year.

"The statistics released today help us to understand our society in terms of ageing and household structure. The data will inform decisions on public policy for years to come.

"More Census statistics on local areas and equality factors such as ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation will be published this Autumn.”

March 21 last year was Census Day and around 80,000 households took time out to complete the forms on the day.

In all 97% of the population completed the forms, the highest level of engagement since 1991.

It provides a comprehensive snapshot of Northern Ireland society - and is used to inform government policy.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.