Population boom as young and old move to countryside
The population of Devon and Cornwall jumped by more than 11,300 last year amid a baby boom and the sustained popularity of the region among retirees and families attempting to escape the rat race.
The two counties boasted a combined population of 1,682,853 in 2012, a spike of around 1% from a year earlier. Almost every part of the region recorded growth, with only the district of North Devon seeing a slight drop in people living there by 129.
Devon's population jumped by 7,184 to 1,142,675 and Cornwall's population soared by 4,154 to 537,914. Even the Isles of Scilly recorded an increase in residents of 40 to 2,264.
The mushrooming populace mirrored the national trend, according to the Office for National Statistics figures.
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There was a rise in population of 419,000 in the year up to the end of June 2012, with the total living in the UK at 63.7 million.
Researchers said the rise was driven by the number of babies born in the UK hitting its highest in four decades, contributing to the fastest population growth in Europe.
This made the UK the third largest EU nation, behind France and Germany.
A total of 813,200 births were recorded in the UK – the biggest baby boom since 1972 – and the rise has been attributed to larger numbers of women in their 20s and 30s becoming mothers, along with an increase in the number of migrant families.
The Westountry has added factors contributing to the rise, including migration from town to country that is luring people young and old to rural and coastal areas.
This adds strain to public services such as hospitals and schools and drives up house prices in an area where wages remain low.
MPs from across the region are urging the Government to address state under-funding in rural areas including Devon and Cornwall.
Ministers have already pledged to reform schools funding to move money away from inner-cities.