Rural town and fringe areas have seen the greatest rate of population increase of all rural areas. Although the rate of growth in these areas (5.7 per cent) is slower than in urban areas (6.9 per cent), the 2019 Statistical Digest of Rural England reports.
However, rural villages and hamlets in sparse settings showed the smallest rate of population increase within rural areas (1.9 per cent).
The statistical report shows that in 2019 the English population was 56.3 million, of which 9.6 million (17.1 per cent) lived in rural areas. This is a 0.3 million rise since 2011, although as a percentage of the total population this represents a marginal percentage fall.
Within rural areas, 0.5 million people lived in sparse settings in 2019.
In terms of age, the population in rural areas has a higher proportion of older people compared with urban areas. In 2019, the most prominent age groups in rural areas are 50 to 54 and 55 to 59 with 7.9 per cent of the rural population, while the most prominent age groups in urban areas are 25 to 29 and 30 to 34 with 7.2 per cent of the urban population.
The average age is also increasing at a faster rate than in urban areas.
Rural areas also have the highest average life expectancy and people there are expected to live two years longer than people born in urban areas. The average life expectancy in 2016-18 was 79.6 years for men and 83.2 years for women in England.