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Census 2021 deep dive: Children and deprivation in London

Author: Marc Brazzill

Children are more likely than any other age group in London to be in poverty. In this piece, we look at how London’s child population differs across the capital and how this links with deprivation. This is our fifth piece in a series of interactive maps and deep dives exploring what the Census 2021 data shows us about London’s populations and deprivation.

Children in London

22.7% of Londoners are under the age of 18 - but this differs hugely across the capital. In many Inner London boroughs, less than 20% of residents are under the age of 18 - for example 16.2% in Westminster and 8.3% in the City of London. Outer London boroughs have much higher proportions of children. In Barking and Dagenham, 30.4% of residents are under the age of 18, followed by 26.1% in Enfield.

In fact, the proportion of children is lower in all Inner London boroughs than in all Outer London boroughs, with the exception of Newham – an Inner London borough – which has the 4th highest proportion of children (25.1%).

Research by the Centre for London argues that this divide between Inner and Outer London is due to the cost of childcare and housing in Inner London, which is approximately 20% higher than Outer London, and prices out many young families.

Children comprise more than 30% of the population in just 40 of London’s 1002 neighbourhoods, and 14 (35%) of those are in Barking and Dagenham. Among these neighbourhoods with a high proportion of children, there is a tendency for there to also be a high ethnic minority population – 28/40 have a majority non-White population – or a sizeable religious community. The four neighbourhoods with the highest proportion of children are in and around the Stamford Hill area, home to London’s largest orthodox Jewish community which has a birth rate 3.5 times as high as the average for England and Wales (South Tottenham (42.6%), Stamford Hill North (39.7%), Stamford Hill South (38.4%) and Stamford Hill West (37.2%)).

Children and deprivation

Analysis of Department for Work and Pensions data shows that children are the group with the highest rates of poverty in London. Consequently, it is not surprising that neighbourhoods with higher proportions of children also tend to have higher levels of deprivation. More than a quarter of the population are children in 59% of London’s most deprived neighbourhoods, but in London’s least deprived neighbourhoods this is the case in only 12%.

The relationship between a larger population of children and higher levels of deprivation in a neighbourhood can often be seen more clearly when looking at individual boroughs. For example, Havering’s five least deprived neighbourhoods all have a population of children below the London median of 22.6%. By contrast the proportion of children among the five most deprived neighbourhoods in Havering is always greater than 25%, with Harold Hill East among the 10% most deprived London neighbourhoods and with the highest population of children (31.5%) in the borough.

Zooming in on Enfield

Another borough with a clear relationship between the level of deprivation and the proportion of children is Enfield. The least deprived neighbourhoods in Enfield i.e. those in the first two deprivation deciles, have an average population of children of 22%. In comparison, the most deprived neighbourhoods in Enfield, i.e. those in the tenth decile, have a much higher population of children – averaging 30%.

The interesting thing about Enfield is that the distribution of children in the borough also has a geographical trend. The ten neighbourhoods with the highest proportion of children are all found in the East of the borough. Enfield Wash has the highest proportion of children (33.1%) in Enfield and the 10th highest proportion in London. It is also among the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods in London.

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