Midlands: Demographics, Density and Migration Patterns


Introduction: The People

Analysing population density, migration patterns, median age, and income can help you to make data-driven decisions about the type of properties that people living across different regions need.

We’ve drilled into some of the recent data from the Office of National Statistics so that you don’t have to.


Population Change and Population Density

With a population of 5,950,060 people in 2021, the West Midlands had a higher population than the East Midlands, which had 4,879,210 people. However, the East Midlands did see a larger population growth (7.5% vs 6.1%) from 2011 to 2021, and has a greater projected population growth anticipated for 2031 (7% vs 6.8%).

Unsurprisingly, as the UK’s second largest city, Birmingham has the highest population out of both the East and West Midlands at 1,144,810 people, according to the ONS data.

Seven of the top ten most populous LPAs in the Midlands are in the WMCA (Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Shropshire, Dudley, Walsall, and Wolverhampton). And the other LPAs which make up the top 10 are the three urban areas we have chosen to look at for the East Midlands (Derby, Leicester, Nottingham). 

When we look at the LPAs with the lowest population in 2021, there’s a higher percentage of rural areas (7 out of the bottom 10). However, three LPAs from the WMCA (North Warwickshire, Tamworth, and Redditch) were also some of the least populous areas. In 2021, Rutland was the least populated LPA in the Midlands with only 41,210 inhabitants. 

In terms of future population growth, the ONS projections show that it’s mainly the rural areas that are expected to see the biggest increases from 2021 to 2031. With the exception of Coventry, taking the top spot at 22.5% and North Warwickshire at 12.8%. 

Four LPAs are projected to see negative population growth in the 10 years to 2031: 

  • Tamworth: -3.6%
  • Redditch: -2.1%
  • Lincoln: -1.7%
  • Worcester: -0.1%

When we look at population density, we see a similar pattern. The top ten most densely populated cities are mainly the larger cities with the highest population. However, the ranking does shift slightly, with cities in the East Midlands topping the table. 

Leicester is the most densely populated LPA with 4,990 people per sqkm, followed by Nottingham with 4,283 people per sqkm, then Birmingham with 4,266 people per sqkm. 

The reverse trend can be seen when looking at the least densely populated areas, with the bottom 10 all being rural LPAs. Shropshire is the only local authority from the WMCA to land in this list. 

East Lindsey is the least densely populated LPA in the Midlands with only 81 people per sqkm. It is the third largest district in the UK, so it makes sense that its inhabitants are spread more sparsely.

The more populous West Midlands is also more densely populated overall than the East Midlands (458 people per sqkm and 312 people per sqkm respectively). 

Migration Patterns

Migration patterns can show us where people are moving to and from. Internal migration means that people are moving to or from elsewhere in the UK, while external migration means that people are moving from the area to overseas. 

Net migration patterns are quite different in both the East and West Midlands. The former saw negative internal (-443 people) and external migration (-251 people). Whereas, the West Midlands saw a positive population growth as a result of internal (514 people) and external (99 people). 

When we look at the data on an LPA level, we can see that some of the most populated cities saw the biggest negative net population change as a result of internal migration: 

  • Nottingham: -4,294 people
  • Birmingham: -4,110 people
  • Leicester: -2,809 people
  • Coventry: -2,301 people

On the other hand, rural areas saw the highest levels of net internal migration. The top two were in the WMCA – Stratford-upon-Avon and Shropshire (1,217 people and 1,087 people respectively). 

East Lindsey (the least densely populated LPA in the Midlands) also saw significant net internal migration at 824 people. 


Large cities and towns tend to attract a younger demographic due to the variety of career and entertainment opportunities on offer. We can clearly see this pattern in the data for the Midlands. 

Some of the most populous cities across the Midlands come out with the lowest median age. 

The three youngest LPAs are: 

  • Nottingham: 31.74 years
  • Leicester: 33.92 years
  • Birmingham: 34.31 years


These three cities are also prominent university hubs and the student presence likely contributes to the low median ages. 

The median age did increase for all three cities between 2011-2021. However, it was the rural areas that saw the biggest increase in median age for this time period. Derbyshire Dales saw the largest jump at 4.5 years. 

Only four LPAs have a median age that reduced during this time – the top of which are both in the WMCA: 

  • Walsall: -0.45 years
  • Rugby: -0.17 years
  • Lincoln: -0.16 years
  • Boston: -0.08 years

Large cities and towns tend to attract a younger demographic due to the variety of career and entertainment opportunities on offer. We can clearly see this pattern in the data for the Midlands. 

Some of the most populous cities across the Midlands come out with the lowest median age. 


In 2012, the East Midlands had a higher median income (at £24,995) than the West Midlands (£24,615), but in the ten years since, the West Midlands has jumped in front with an average income of £31,399 – a jump of 27.6%. The East Midlands income increased by 23.6% to £30,900. 

Solihull had the highest median income out of all the LPAs in the Midlands at £37,042 in 2022 – seeing an increase of 25.5% in 10 years. Stratford-upon-Avon (like Solihull, also in the WMCA) has the second highest median income at £36,950. 

There have been 10 year income increases across the board in the Midlands but Wyre Forest takes the top spot with a 47.7% increase to £31,721. Bolsover was the only LPA to see single figure growth and had the least significant increase at 6.6% to £27,485 in 2022. 

Boston had the lowest median income at £25,819, increasing 26% from 2012. Nottingham and Leicester also were in the ten lowest median income LPAs at £27,016 and £27,661 respectively. It will be interesting to see later on in the report how these income figures fair in relation to house prices in the area. 

Related Resources

If you've enjoyed the data insights about demographics in the Midlands, check out our other  reports for the region below: