Population growth – to infinity and beyond?

 Projections of population growth have recently been released for London boroughs with projections extending to 2041. Clearly, these are just projections, but I assume those responsible know what they’re doing.
If we focus on LBTH’s population, you can see that between 2001 and 2041, it is expected to double from 202,000 to 400,000, and half of this increase will have occured by 2017.
The population estimate for Tower Hamlets in 2013 is 270,000, which shows a quite substantial increase in 12 years.
Using this data we can calculate a compound growth rate, which for Tower Hamlets is 0.72% per year. However, if we look at the year-on-year increases in population, which I’ve plotted below, we can see that the largest proportionate increases are expected to have already occured between 20004 and 2011, with an gradual stepped decrease in growth rates indicating that the growth rate is expected to slow.

 However, the actual number of new residents will still be reasonably significant and will increased by between 7,000 and 8,000 each year until 2021, before dropping to 5,000 new residents per year until 2026 and then 3,000 per year until 2041. All of these new residents will clearly drive a need for improvements in transport, health and education infrastucture.
But, is Tower Hamlets different to the rest of London? The simple answer is yes. I’ve indexed the forecast populations of LBTH, Inner London and Outer London in the chart below to show the relative level of population growth. Whilst LBTH’s population is expected to double (100 to 200 on the chart below), Inner London’s population will only increase by 46 per cent and outer London by 32 per cent, so whilst all of London will be getting even more crowded, we may feel more of a squeeze in Tower Hamlets than elsewhere.

To contexualise this, in 2001, the population density was such that if everyone stood outside, and spread themselves out equally into a grid, there would be one person every ten metres. In 2041, this will have reduced to one person every 7 metres (and as a result each square actually halves in area from 106 square metres per person to 54 square metres a person).

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