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Population Topic Data

Change in Dorset’s demographic make-up can have an impact on service demands and provision for local authorities but can also affect housing demand and business needs.

Changes in our population are shaped by both natural change (births and deaths) and by migration into and out of Dorset.

By projecting future population change, we can plan to target services and resources to the places where they will be needed most.

Population change in Dorset

  • In Dorset, deaths usually outnumber births giving net decline in the natural population.
  • Growth in Dorset’s population therefore arises from positive net migration, with in migration normally greater than out migration each year.
  • Over the period 2006-2016, Dorset’s population grew by 17,000, growth of about four per cent compared with eight per cent nationally.

Age breakdown of population change

  • Over the period 2006-2016, the number aged 65+ grew by 24,200 – up by 25%.
  • However, the population of working age dropped by 6,400 in Dorset – and the number of children fell by 1,700.
  • There was also a net loss of 15-19 year olds from Dorset to other parts of the UK, with net gains mostly among those aged 30+.
  • Over the next 25 years, Dorset’s population is projected to grow at a slightly slower rate to the national average at about 0.4% per annum compared to 0.6%.
  • Corresponding with the national trend, the greatest part of this growth is among those aged 65+, increasing at 1.6% pa.
  • Dorset’s working age population is expected to see a marginal decline over this period compared with marginal growth nationally.
  • No growth is expected in the next 25years for 0-15yr olds following the fall between 2006 and 2016 in this age group.
DCC 2016 population against 2014 infographic
DCC 2016 population against 2041

What are we doing about it?

The county council produces population projections which look forward 25 years and are revised on an annual basis. These projections can be used to anticipate local housing need and inform local plans which identify land for housing. The projections also help with school place planning - a growing population of children creates a demand for school places and support services.  The ageing population can affect housing supply as some older people live in under-occupied homes.

An ageing population has an impact on the economy as more employees move into retirement with a potential loss of skills from the workforce, unless employers plan for this by up-skilling other workers and training apprentices for a long term solution. The county council provides adult learning courses1 to help people get back into work after a gap or to improve existing skills. The council also promotes the benefits to employers of retaining and training older staff2. Ultimately this will benefit both individuals and the local economy and will ease pressure on council budgets.

To support the growing number of older people, Dorset is helping people plan for their future care needs with a campaign: Prepare to Live Better.  The council also provides advice and support to carers. Keeping fit and healthy into old age improves people’s physical and mental wellbeing and reduces the demand for public services.  Investing in green spaces and providing information through services like ‘Live Well Dorset’3 can be much more cost effective than clinical interventions and other support.

Headline Figures



Total population in 2016


Increase in +65s 2006-2016, an increase of 2.3%pa


+65s projected population change 2016-2041


Decrease in 0-15yrs 2006-2016

Headline Figures


Projected total population change 2016-2041


Total population in 2016


Increase in +65s 2006-2016 an increase of 2.3%pa


+65s projected population change 2016-2041


Decrease in 0-15 yrs 2006-2016


81 Reports

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18 Related Datasets

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  • 2017 CCG Locality Area Population estimates

    28 December 2018

    Dorset CCG area is made up of 13 locality areas which in turn are made up of Lower Super Output Areas. Office for National Statistics 2017 LSOA small area estimates have been summed to give population estimates for each locality area.

    Downloads: 45

  • Life Expectancy

    17 December 2018

    This data set shows life expectancy at birth and at age 65 by gender for Dorset's districts, Bournemouth, Poole, Dorset, the South West and England.

    Downloads: 15

  • 2017 LSOA level Mid-Year Estimates

    17 December 2018

    2017 Mid-year Estimates at LSOA geography for Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole.

    Downloads: 23

  • 2017 Parish Level Mid-Year Estimates

    12 December 2018

    2017 best fit Output Area population to parish geography for all persons by five year age groups.

    Downloads: 27

  • 2017 Ward Level Estimates

    12 December 2018

    Experimental Mid-Year Estimates at Ward Level for Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole

    Downloads: 28

  • Data for EqIAs (diversity data)

    16 November 2018

    Various diversity data for Dorset with national comparators. For assistance in completing Equality Impact Assessments (EqIAs).

    Downloads: 69

  • 2016 based Household Projections

    04 October 2018

    Office for National Statistics 2016 based Household projections for country, county and local authority areas.

    Downloads: 43

  • International Migration

    04 October 2018

    National Insurance Number Registrations by non-UK nationals at Local Authority level and above.

    Downloads: 16

  • 2017 Mid-Year Estimates LA level and above

    02 July 2018

    Office for National Statistics 2017 Mid-Year Estimates. Available at Local Authority area and above. Data is available by sex and single year of age and broad age groups.

    Downloads: 120

  • Historical Mid Year Estimates: Country, County, Local & Unitary Authority Level and above

    02 July 2018

    Historical Mid Year Estimates (MYE) for 2001-2017 for LA geographies and above, by all persons, 5yr age groups.

    Downloads: 19

  • Internal Migration

    01 July 2018

    Internal Migration by broad age group for Local Authority area

    Downloads: 10

  • 2016 based ONS Sub-National Population Projections

    14 June 2018

    The latest Office for National Statistics population projections for local authority areas in Dorset

    Downloads: 26

  • 2016-based Trend projections for dwellings and households for Dorset, Dorset Districts, Bournemouth and Poole

    10 January 2018

    Projected dwelling and household population

    Downloads: 202

  • Life Expectancy by ward 2011-2015

    22 November 2017

    This dataset shows life expectancy at birth by gender for Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole's wards.

    Downloads: 16

  • 2015 based DCC Ward level population projections

    12 January 2017

    2015 based trend led DCC total population projections at ward level (using 2014 ward boundaries)

    Downloads: 332

  • Detailed Diversity Data (Census 2011)

    12 December 2016

    Diversity - Ward, Parish, Local Authority, South West Region and National data.

    Downloads: 456

  • Births Deaths and Natural Change Country, County, UA and LA level

    15 November 2016

    District level and above; births, deaths and natural change from 2001 onwards

    Downloads: 12

  • Ethnicity

    01 January 2011

    Broad and detailed ethnic population data at District level and above

    Downloads: 298

2 Related Dashboards

Population Projections

Examine the population breakdown by gender and by age group for any DCC ward and district and compare it against the population distribution of DCC Dorset

View dashboard

Indices of Deprivation 2015

The English Indices of Deprivation help identify and prioritise areas to assist the government and other agencies in narrowing the gap between deprived neighbourhoods and the rest of the country.

View dashboard