Characteristics of UK armed forces veterans, England and Wales: Census 2021

  • Of the total (just over 1.85 million) UK armed forces veteran population in England and Wales, 13.6% (235,430) were women (13.8% in Wales and 13.5% in England) and 86.4% (1,601,705) were men (86.2% in Wales and 86.5% in England).
  • Almost one-third (31.8% or 589,640) of veterans were aged 80 years and over, reflecting National Service policy (1939 to 1960) inclusive of War Service (to 1948).
  • Most UK armed forces veterans living in England and Wales were born in the UK (94.2% or 1,744,985), 2.1% were born in other Commonwealth nations (39,420) and the proportions born in Nepal and Ireland were similar (0.6% and 0.5% or 10,240 and 9,480, respectively).
  • Those who had previously served in the UK armed forces were more likely to identify their ethnicity within the high-level “White” category (96.4% or 1,785,640) than non-veterans (83.1% or 38,827,845); differences remained even after accounting for the older age distribution of veterans.
  • Those who had only served in the reserve forces were younger and more likely to be female than the rest of the veteran population, 64.1% were aged under 65 years and 24.6% were women, this may reflect the relative ease that volunteer reserves are able to leave service and historical roles of women serving in the UK armed forces.

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