Left Outside

Is the UK/England the most densely populated country in the World?

It is often claimed that the UK (or England) cannot absorb any more immigrants because we already have one of the highest population densities in the world.

This claim is refuted below. The UK has a relatively high population density but it is not one of the highest in the world.

  1. The UK is the 51st most densely populated country or dependency in the World. The top quartile, but nothing terrifying. In fact a quarter of the world’s population live in more cramp quarters than us.
  2. However, that does include some small Islands, dependencies, city states etc. Which it could be argued are unfair to include (although, I’m sure the people living there would think otherwise). So if we take them out we end up with the below list , in descending order of population density.
    1. Bangladesh
    2. The Palestinian territories
    3. Taiwan
    4. South Korea
    5. Netherlands
    6. Lebanon
    7. India
    8. Rwanda
    9. Belgium
    10. Haiti
    11. Japan
    12. Israel
    13. Sri Lanka
    14. Philippines
    15. El Salvador
    16. Burundi
    17. Vietnam
    18. UK

    This puts the UK in 18th place. Again, this is above average but it is not something which appears to warrant the alarmism sometimes expressed.

  3. Another tactic often employed is to refer to England only. England has a population of 51 million and a land mass of 50,000 square miles and this gives a population density of a little over 1,000 per square mile. Excluding islands, city states, and dependencies, this still places us behind
    1. Bangladesh
    2. The Palestinian territories
    3. Taiwan
    4. South Korea
    5. The Netherlands
    6. England

    This puts England 6th on the world stage in terms of population density. Now it becomes a little clearer why people bemoaning immigration refer to England; it inflates their figures. England is a constituent part of the United Kingdom and there are no restrictions of movement on those in the UK so it is dishonest to focus on England and not the whole UK.

  4. In an effort to inflate their figures, those arguing that immigration is dangerous will use the population density of England rather than the whole of the UK. Because of the relatively sparse population of the Highlands England has a higher population density than the whole of the UK. This is a misleading argument as migrants settle across all of the UK and it is dishonest to use information from part of the UK to dictate policy for the whole country. For example, despite the fact that the German Land of North Rhine-Westphalia has a population density of 1,300 people per square mile it would be foolish to argue that no migration should be allowed into Germany from the data of one constituent part.

So population density does immediately appear to be an important reason to reduce immigration. Britain’s population density is high but not dangerously so and there are a number of regions in the world with higher population densities and high standards of living. The Netherlands, Belgium and North-Rhine Westphalia.

Things to look out for – Shifting Goal Posts.

One you have pointed out the various flaws in this argument watch out for some shifting of the goal posts.

“Aha!” they will say “if you only look at population density then you ignore the pressure migrants put on public services!”

“But you brought up population density in the first place,” says you “you’re shifting the goal posts…”

Comments are turned off. The original post and comments are available here for further discussion.

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