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Male minority in Britain

London, Oct. 1: Women outnumber men at all ages over 21, according to the first results from last year’s census published yesterday.

For the first time, there are also more people aged over 60 than under 16 and the number of over-85s has increased five-fold to 1.1 million since 1951. On April 29, 2001, when the census was conducted, the population for the United Kingdom was put at 58,989,194 — an increase of around 1.5 million since 1991 and a 17 per cent rise over the past 50 years.

However, the total was some 900,000 below an estimate issued just last year by the Office for National Statistics. Len Cook, who was responsible for the census in England and Wales, said this shortfall consisted mainly of young men aged between 20 and 30.

He suggested many had left the country to participate in the “rave culture” in the Mediterranean or on extended breaks from higher education. “There was a migration outflow of 600,000 more than we would have thought in the last 10 years,” he said. “For the large part, that is explained by an unusually large number of young men in their 20s going abroad for a long time or for shorter periods.” Jobs available for young people in other parts of the European Union may also be a factor in the unexpectedly high number of migrants.

The statistics appear to confirm the so-called Bridget Jones phenomenon of women struggling to find husbands.

Until 1981, there were more men than women at all ages up to the late forties. However, women are now in the majority from a much earlier age, with the number of men in their twenties and thirties fluctuating dramatically. There are 15,317 more women aged 20-24 than men, according to the 2001 census. The difference rises to 76,029 in the 25-29 age group and 93,837 among 30- to 34-year-olds. Overall there are 1,626,728 more women than men and the area with the lowest ratio of men to women was Eastbourne, with 87 men per 100 females. The area with the most men to women is Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, with 107 men per hundred women.

However, the overall accuracy of the census was questioned because the number of people actually filling in a form fell from 96 per cent in 1991 to 94 per cent — and was much lower in the inner cities.

Kit Malthouse, deputy leader of Tory-controlled

Westminster City Council, said the borough's

population was 64,000 below the figure estimated by

the ONS last year.

"The census is a statistical travesty," he said. "We

have repeatedly told the ONS that they were in danger

of underestimating Westminster's population."

Mr Malthouse said the council would write to ministers

demanding that more realistic figures were produced.

If necessary, court action would be considered against

the ONS to establish an accurate demography of the

borough. He said a young and mobile population and a

large number of ethnic minorities, asylum seekers and

immigrants had contributed to a response rate of just

74 per cent. In Kensington and Chelsea, only 64 per

cent of households returned forms and the population

of the borough was more than 30,000 below

expectations.

A spokesman for the Association of London Government

said: "We are aware that there are some issues

surrounding the census detail. There is a possibility

that it could have a knock-on effect on applications

for funding from central government."

However, Mike Heiser, of the Local Government

Association, said: "The 2001 census is probably closer

to being correct than the estimates because it's based

on a snapshot of 2001 rather than predictions based on

data from the last census in 1991."

Despite the low return rates, only 38 people were

prosecuted for wilful refusal to fill in a form, which

was an offence punishable by a fine or even jail. In

1991, there were 342 prosecutions and 692 in 1981.

Michael Fallon, Conservative MP for Sevenoaks and

chairman of the Commons committee that monitors the

census, said it would be holding a renewed hearing

into the operation.

He was particularly concerned by the methodology used

to estimate the one million missing people.

28 September 2002: Census men invented answers for

one million

17 May 2002: Average number of children falls again

to 1.64

16 November 2001: Immigration will boost population

to 65 million

29 April 2001: Countdown to disaster on census day

Information appearing on Electronic Telegraph is the

copyright of Telegraph Group Limited and must not be

reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full

copyright statement see Copyright

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Jaideep Chatterjee

Assistant News Editor

The Telegraph

6,9 Prafulla Sarkar Street, Calcutta, India

00-91-33-2600216, 00-91-33-2600229

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