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Population Topic Data

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The total population of Dorset is 418,300. The population has grown 4.4% over the past 10 years. This is slower than the national average, with the total population of England and Wales growing 8% over the past 10 years.

Latest projections indicate that the population of Dorset is expected to grow by 4.6% over the next 10 years. This is slower in comparison to the national average of 6.8%.

Future population growth is not spread evenly across all age groups. By the end of the 25 year projection period over 65’s in Dorset will more than double in comparison to under 65’s which will drop by 6%. The younger population of 0-15yr olds will grow by just 2.3%. Whilst the working age population of 16-64yr olds will drop by 8.3%.


Overall numbers of births in Dorset have traditionally been lower than the national average.

Dorset has an older age structure, and higher out migration of women of child-bearing age which exacerbates the low fertility rates.

However there are areas of Dorset which have greater numbers of births than others. For instance parts of Portland and Shaftesbury have a higher birth rate than areas such as Highcliffe and Colehill. This greater detailed information allows for more targeted early years service provision and anticipation of future school places.


Dorset has a higher death rate than the national average, however this is not due to poor health in the area this is influenced by the high proportion of older people leading to an increased number of deaths.

In fact, Dorset has a better life expectancy than the national average at 83.1 for men and 85.0 for women as opposed to 79.4 for men and 83.1 for women nationally. So whilst the death rate is higher, people are living longer in Dorset.

Again there are lower level differences in life expectancy across Dorset. With the gap between Dorset’s most and least deprived areas 6.4 years for males and 5.5 for females.


Dorset traditionally has positive in-migration into the area. Analysis of in-migration by age shows that the greatest gains are in the pre-retirement age groups with the greatest losses in the 16-24 age group. These influence the ageing of population, and the declining fertility.

How do these factors influence our population change?

As there are more deaths than births this results in a net natural decline.

However more people move in than out meaning that the population still increases.

Without this positive net migration the population would decline.

Why does it matter?

Understanding our population is key to understanding the needs of our residents and demand for services. Dorset’s unique and changing age structure is likely to have a huge impact. Whilst ageing of the population will also occur nationally, this is more pronounced in Dorset due to the already significantly older age structure. This highlights the urgency for Dorset in planning services for older people and supporting carers. Associated with this is the rise in one person households, increasing challenges for council services and putting additional pressure on housing.

Our shrinking population aged between 30 and 44 will impact on employers looking to recruit staff and replace the growing numbers of those retiring. Whilst these losses are partially offset by gains in those aged 25-29 and 50-59, there is still potential for considerable impact on the local economy.

Further challenges also exist in the previous year on year increase in birth rates leading to growth in the number of children aged 0-4 years impacting on school provision. The previous trend of an increase in births may have come to an end as births between 2013-14 are the lowest since 2006. Nonetheless, gains in previous years will be reflected throughout school years and so pupil place planning should consider when and where demands will be at their highest, impacting on school roll numbers, staffing and travel to school.

15 Related Datasets

Order by: Newest first

  • 2015-based Trend projections Dorset, Dorset Districts, Bournemouth and Poole

    01 July 2016

    Projected resident population by 5 year age groups rounded to the nearest ten

    Downloads: 52

  • 2015 Mid Year Estimates Country, County, UA and LA level

    23 June 2016

    District level and above population estimates by sex and single year of age.

    Downloads: 137

  • Experimental 2014 Trend based Population Projections Dorset, Dorset Districts, Bournemouth and Poole

    01 April 2016

    Projected resident population by 5 year age groups rounded to the nearest hundred (experimental)

    Downloads: 229

  • 2014 based Ward level population projections

    01 December 2015

    2014 based total population projections at ward level

    Downloads: 148

  • 2014 Ward Level Mid Year Estimates

    25 November 2015

    Ward level population estimates by 5 year age groups

    Downloads: 10

  • Life Expectancy

    04 November 2015

    This dataset shows life expectancy at birth by gender for Dorset's districts, B'mth, Poole, Dorset, the South West and England & Wales.

    Downloads: 83

  • International Migration

    01 August 2015

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

    Downloads: 91

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

    01 July 2015

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

    Downloads: 74

  • Mid Year Estimates Country, County, UA and LA level

    25 June 2015

    District level and above population estimates by sex and single year of age.

    Downloads: 100

  • Internal Migration

    25 June 2015

    Internal Migration by broad age group for LA area, Dorset and Dorset LEP

    Downloads: 92

  • Household Projections

    27 February 2015

    2012 based household projections at district level and above

    Downloads: 95

  • Experimental Parish Population Estimates 2013

    01 January 2015

    Total Population by 5 year age groups for 2013. Based upon 2013 Mid year estimates by output area following census release and 2013 Patient Register data. Where output areas do not match parish boundaries a combination of Patient Register data has been used to estimate the population.

    Downloads: 83

  • Births Deaths and Natural Change Ward Level

    01 January 2015

    Ward level births deaths and natural change from 2001 onwards

    Downloads: 58

  • 2012 based Sub National Population Projections Country, County, UA and LA level

    29 May 2014

    2012 based population projections at district level and above by 5yr age groups

    Downloads: 67

  • Ethnicity

    01 January 2011

    Broad and detailed ethnic population data at District level and above

    Downloads: 126

12 Reports

Order by: Newest first

  • Our Communities Topic Report – 2015 Mid Year population estimates in Dorset

    01 July 2016

    Welcome to this ourcommunities bitesize bulletin on mid-year population estimates for Dorset. This edition will include the current population in Dorset, its changes and why this matters. The total population has increased by 2,320 since 2014 with those aged 65+ increasing in particular.

    Downloads: 158

  • The Indices of Deprivation 2015 - a summary report for Dorset County Council

    01 December 2015

    The English Indices of Deprivation helps identify and prioritise areas to assist the government and other agencies both national and local in narrowing the gap between deprived neighbourhoods and the rest of the country

    Downloads: 287

  • State of Dorset 2015

    01 October 2015

    This is the key annual document bringing together the "picture" of Dorset based on the statistical evidence. It covers seven key areas: Economy, Deprivation, Older People, Children, Health and Care, Natural and Historic Environment and Leisure and Culture.

    Downloads: 434

  • Our Communities Topic Report – NINo registrations

    01 October 2015

    A NINo is generally required by any overseas national looking to work or claim benefits/tax credits in the UK. The number of migrants registering for a National Insurance number has increased by almost 400 in the past year, and the origin of migrants is changing as transitional employment restrictions on European Union member countries change.

    Downloads: 90

  • Our Communities Topic Report – The English Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) 2015

    01 October 2015

    This edition of Our Communities includes the latest release of the official measure of relative deprivation for small areas in England. In a national context Dorset as a whole does not score highly in relation to deprivation coming 128th out of 152. However as the report shows there are pockets of deprivation particularly in Weymouth & Portland.

    Downloads: 104

  • Research Matters 4 - Ask Dorset Public Engagement Results

    01 August 2015

    Ask Dorset was the biggest community engagement exercise undertaken by Dorset County

    Downloads: 84

  • Our Communities Topic Report – Unemployment in Dorset

    01 April 2015

    2014 saw the lowest long-term unemployment in Dorset since 2011. Claimant rate is 0.9%, substantially lower than the national rate of 2.0%. However 29% of Dorset claimants are aged 16-24 – higher than the national level of 23%.

    Downloads: 80

  • Research Matters 2 - Diversity Bulletin

    01 September 2014

    This bulletin presents an overview of the nature and range of diversity on the county’s population, covering the six commonly recognised strands of diversity; age, disability, religion and belief, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

    Downloads: 110

  • Our Communities Topic Report – 2014 Mid Year population estimates in Dorset

    01 August 2014

    2014 Mid-year population estimates show that the population of Dorset has increased by 1,500 since 2013 with those aged 65+ increasing in particular. Births are at their lowest since 2006 whilst net migration is at its highest for seven years.

    Downloads: 101

  • Census Story - Religion

    01 August 2013

    Despite falling numbers Christianity remains the largest religion in Dorset in 2011. Meanwhile a quarter of the population now say they have no religion.

    Downloads: 75

  • Census Story - Main Language

    01 August 2013

    98.3% of Dorset’s residents aged 3 and over have recorded English as their main language in the 2011 Census. This contrasts with a figure of 92% for England and Wales. For 6,634 residents in Dorset, English is not their first language. Where English is not the main language spoken 78 other languages feature across the County as resident’s main language, some in very small numbers.

    Downloads: 72

  • Census Story - Country of Birth

    01 August 2013

    In 2011 5.6 per cent (23,157) of the usual resident population of Dorset were born outside the UK. The national figure for England and Wales was 13.4 per cent (7.5 million).

    Downloads: 86