London Essays – Issue 8: Futures


London’s population is expected to continue growing fast well into the middle of the century. Where will new Londoners live? What changes to age and ethnic composition can we expect?

Population growth will not be equally distributed across the city – there are some places where it is actually expected to fall. The areas seeing the highest growth are around inner east London, especially along the Thames. There are also pockets of high growth elsewhere, caused by a relatively young population of childbearing age, and expected future development. Some parts of London have a significantly lower population density, but the high-density areas are likely to see their populations expand, posing challenges in the provision of housing, upgrading of infrastructure, and maintenance of public services.

London attracts young people from across the country and the world, but the population pyramid envisages younger people declining as a proportion of the whole.

In contrast to the general trend, the female population aged 25–34 is projected to decline. This may be a result of younger people being forced, or deciding, to move out of London, perhaps with more women commuting in a way more traditionally associated with men. Some of the biggest increases are in the older age groups, as we all live longer and older people decide to stay in the capital. There are many unknowns: might the increasing cost of living force young people to move elsewhere? What impact will changing migration patterns post-Brexit have on the age of London’s citizens?

London’s population is the most cosmopolitan in the UK, with an estimated current proportion of 42.9 per cent from BAME backgrounds. One particularly notable trend is the fall in London’s White British and White Irish population, in relative and also absolute terms.

Source: Map data from GLA (2017) 2015-based Demographic Projections, by MSOA, using a housing-led method. Based on data provided by Tony Travers, Director of LSE London.

Source: Age structure data from GLA (2016) 2015 Round Borough Trend, based on Short-term Migration Trend. Ethnicity data from GLA (2016) 2015 Round Ethnic Group Projections (Long-term Migration Variant). Based on data provided by Tony Travers, Director of LSE London.