More figures have just been released from the 2011 Census by the Office for National Statistics. Here’s a link to the Nomis website from where I extracted the figures I’ve used in my tables. If you get the hang of it you can kind of pick and choose the statistics and combinations, or areas, you want. Anyway, let’s start with the all-Wales figure, showing the age breakdown and the country of birth.
(I should explain that the ‘Total’ column, one in from the right, includes those born everywhere from Chile to China. The percentage figure in the right-hand column shows the figure for that age group as a percentage of the total population figure. So that the 25 – 34 band makes up 11.7% of the total population of Wales. Clear?)
There are a number of interesting features to be seen here, not least the fact that between the youngest and the oldest age bracket the Welsh born percentage drops by almost twenty percentage points. Which obviously makes monkeys out of those who still deny there’s a problem. Elsewhere, the ‘spike’ in the 16 – 24 sector for English born is accounted for mainly by students, which then explains the subsequent drop in the 25 – 34 segment. Predictably, there is a marked increase in the percentage of English born in the population from the age of 50, which of course is explained by retirees.
More interesting is the 35 – 49 range, where we see an increase of nearly four points on the 25 – 34 group. Interesting because of course these are neither students nor retirees. This increase is partly accounted for by English people moving to Wales to take up employment, and partly by the influx of the benefit-dependent population I have dealt with before.
What these figues show (when compared with previous censuses) is that Wales has an ageing population. This is due to: a) Welsh people living longer and b) English people retiring to Wales. Which might be acceptable . . . were Wales a wealthy country, with a large working age population, a robust and efficient heath service, a reliable ambulance service, etc. Wales has none of these things. Yet for unfathomable reasons those who claim to be running this country do nothing to curb the influx of elderly people to a poor country with a health service on the point of collapse.
That is the national picture. Locally, or in my locality, the figures are even more depressing. Here’s a table showing the same breakdown used in the previous table for the five south western wards of Gwynedd. (Anyone in any doubt of where we are should click to enlarge the map.) Again we see that in the 0 – 15 age bracket the Welsh born element is well over 80%, but by the time we reach 65+ the Welsh percentage has fallen to 31.6%! What the hell has happened? Well, the giveaway is the fact that in the 65+ age bracket the Welsh born (and in this age group they are far more likely to be Welsh and Welsh speaking) are outnumbered more than two to one by the English born. The Welsh born are in a majority up until the 25 – 34 segment then, due to the factors mentioned earlier – always more pronounced in rural and coastal areas – the Welsh born percentage drops to 40% in the 35 – 49 bracket. And of course, in a rural area like this you can throw into the mix the emigration of the educated and / or ambitious Welsh. The picture is very much the same in other rural and coastal areas.
No doubt others would interpret these figures differently. Those working for Age Concern and similar bodies, or the anti-Welsh bigots who haunt the internet and social networking sites, could all risk a scorched arse by putting a positive gloss on a draining influx that turns us into a minority in our own country, and county. For even though I’m not native to Meirionnydd I now belong to the Welsh born minority in this part of Gwynedd. Down to 43.9% and dwindling.
It would be nice to report that politicians are aware of the problems faced by areas like this and are doing something to help. But no. Tywyn’s largest employer, Halo Foods, was recently given £365,000 by the ‘Welsh’ Government to move to Newport, Gwent. There is today no economic strategy for vast swathes of Wales . . . nothing beyond wind turbines, tourism and granny farming. If you’re Welsh, and young, the message is simple – ‘Get out, there’s nothing for you here. This is no longer your country’. Unless, of course, you want to be part of that great local growth industry – wiping wrinkly English bottoms.