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Changing population

The annual mid-year population estimates (MYEs) are calculated by rolling forward the decennial census populations one year at a time, accounting for births, deaths, international migration and internal migration by using various survey and administrative data sources.

Drivers of change

There are two primary drivers of population change in an area - migration and natural change (the number of births minus the number of deaths). Since the early 90s Herefordshire’s population growth has been driven entirely by migration, since there have been fewer births than deaths over this period.

Following the expansion of the EU in 2004, net inward migration from outside the UK became the main driver of population growth in the county. However, the Census 2021 estimates for Herefordshire indicated a slower growth than the MYEs rolled forward from the previous Census 2011, most likely down to an overestimated net international migration into the county post 2011. We will get a better idea of the true level of international migration into and out of the county once the ONS publish rebased MYEs from mid-2012 to mid-2020 later in 2023.

Although the numbers of births within the county began rising at the beginning of the last decade, the number in the year to mid-2021 was 1.5K, a continuation of the trend in fewer births seen both locally and nationally over the last three years.

Over most of the last two decades there have been a similar number of deaths recorded each year. However, a step up in the number of deaths occurred in 2015, most likely a result of the post war baby boom cohort shifting into the age groups with higher mortality rates.

In the year to mid-2021, there were 2.3K deaths; 9% higher than in the year to mid-2020 (compared with 13% nationally), the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a large impact on the number of deaths in 2020 and 2021 and was the main reason deaths increased above average in those years nationally.


In 2021, 8.9% of the county’s total population identified themselves as being of an ethnicity other than ‘white: British’ - this is still very low compared to nationally (26%).

People of ‘white: other’ origin (i.e. not British; Irish; Gypsy or Irish Traveller) made up the largest single minority group: 5.1% of the population, and this group grew the most rapidly over the previous two decades following the eastward expansion of the European Union (EU) in 2004.

Of the 16,000 county residents who were born outside the UK, 58% have been here for longer than 10 years, 24% for between 5 and 10 years, 12% between 2 and 5 years and 6% for fewer than 2 years.

Note that these estimates are based on the resident population, meaning that people who come to Herefordshire from outside the UK for less than a year will not be included in the figures - including the several thousand seasonal workers from overseas that come to work on Herefordshire farms over the spring and summer.