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Census 2021 deep dive: young adults and deprivation in London

Author: Marc Brazzill

The Census 2021 provides us with the most comprehensive and up to date picture of London’s population. This is our fourth piece in a series of interactive maps and deep dives exploring what the data shows us about London’s populations and deprivation. Here we look at the link between young adults and deprivation.

Young adults in London

Young adults – aged 19-34 years – in London are more likely to live in Inner London boroughs (33%) than Outer London boroughs (21.8%). In fact, every Inner London borough has a higher population of young adults than every Outer London borough. The three boroughs with the highest proportion of young adults – Tower Hamlets (39.3%), City of London (37.7%) and Islington (35.7%) – have double the proportion of the three boroughs with the lowest proportion – Richmond upon Thames (16.2%), Bromley (17.5%) and Sutton (18.5%).

At a local neighbourhood level, we see an even starker difference. The highest proportion of young adults is 59.8% in Leamouth (Tower Hamlets), which is more than five times higher than the lowest proportion of 10.5% in Richmond Park, Sheen Gate & Petersham (Richmond upon Thames).

If we look more closely at different age categories, we can see that this Inner London and Outer London divide is most pronounced among 25-29 year olds. For this age group, all Inner London boroughs again have a higher proportion than all Outer London boroughs. Londoners aged 19-24 are also mostly concentrated in Inner London boroughs, though Brent in North West London has a high population (8.4%). Those aged 30-34 are again concentrated in Inner London boroughs, but there are also a number of boroughs in the East of the city - such as Waltham Forest and Newham - with especially high populations, higher than in some Inner London boroughs.

Young adults and deprivation in London

If we look at the correlation between a neighbourhood’s level of deprivation and the proportion of young adults, we can see a general trend wherein more deprived neighbourhoods tend to have higher proportions of young adults. Among London’s 10% least deprived neighbourhoods, the average proportion of young adults is 18%, but the average proportion rises to 28.9% in the 7th deprivation decile before declining to 26.4% in London’s 10% most deprived neighbourhoods.

However, there is noticeable variation within each deprivation decile that complicates this relationship. Nine of the ten neighbourhoods with the fewest young adults are among the 10% least deprived neighbourhoods in London, but Butler’s Wharf & Queen’s Walk (49.2%) is also among the 10% least deprived neighbourhoods and has the 9th highest proportion of young adults. From the chart we can also see that in all deprivation deciles there are some neighbourhoods where there is a large proportion of young adults resident, but interestingly only one neighbourhood among the 10% most deprived has a proportion of young adults above 40% - Walworth North (Southwark) at 40.2%.

Zooming in on Lewisham

Lewisham has the smallest proportion of young adults (26.6%) among Inner London boroughs – although still higher than all Outer London boroughs – but there is clear geographical variation in where young adults tend to be resident within the borough. Every neighbourhood where the proportion of young adults in neighbourhoods is above 30% is found in the northern tip of the borough, such as Central Lewisham North (46%), New Cross & Deptford South (34.9%) and Brockley East & St Johns (34.6%). These are also among the more deprived neighbourhoods in the borough. By contrast the neighbourhoods with the lowest proportion of young people are geographically spread throughout the borough and have more variation in their level of deprivation. Lee (19.5%) in the east and Crofton Park (22.9%) in the west, for example, have relatively few young people and are among the least deprived neighbourhoods in Lewisham. However, Downham West (18.8%) and Downham East (20.5%) in the south of the borough are among the most deprived.

The relationship between deprivation and the proportion of young adults in a neighbourhood can be complicated. Each borough has different trends that can be explored further using the interactive map.