In 1965, in a region in South West London, the borough of Mitcham, Wimbledon and Morden formed what we now call Merton. Since their joining, Merton has been evolving and constantly diversifying- it is now one of the most popular districts in London. Being part of a cosmopolitan city like London, and yet still maintaining its suburban elements, Merton has stood out and rapidly changed its demographics every decade. The factor that seems to be causing this change is the people it is formed by.

Perhaps the most predictable difference we have seen in the past years has been population growth. London as a whole is predicted to grow to 9.37 million by the end of 2021, and it is common knowledge by this point that urban cities in England have an upward growth trend. This is due to higher employment rates, immigration from abroad, and lower-cost housing. However, looking at a consensus from 2011, the wards of Merton which tend to be the most densely populated areas (such as Wimbledon village, Morden, and Merton Park) have only seen a 5% increase in population. This divide between London’s significant increase in population, and Merton’s minimal increase, is a perfect reflection of the different lifestyles they offer. London attracts folk due to employment, however, the majority of people living in Merton tend to commute into central London, given that they can afford a more isolated, idyllic setting in the suburbs. As a result, the younger working population of London is not attracted to Merton as a place to live. This is a possible explanation for is population staying roughly the same. Merton is also a borough where over 79% of residents are proficient in English, typically from being born and raised in the United Kingdom. Consequentially, Merton’s general demographic is not incredibly diverse so the migration that London attracts from abroad does not overwhelmingly filter into areas such as Wimbledon or Mitcham.  Finally, the comfortable suburban lifestyle that places in Merton represent boosts housing prices, and with London’s poverty rate of nearly 30% (2019), the number of residents that can afford real estate here is decreasing.

On the topic of the suburban stereotype that Merton is often associated with, we also see a common trend of an increase in certain types of lifestyle. This is reflected in the data from a 2014 consensus which calculated that nearly 50% of Merton’s population were families of three people or more. The further away from inner London, the more families there are and therefore there are also far less young and independent people. In this case, when we describe a population as ‘young’, this is in reference to young adults as opposed to children under 16. We can begin to investigate the variety of age groups in different boroughs. Merton prominently attracts either family living or age groups for retirement also known as the economically dependent population. For example, since 2014, we have seen a 9.2% increase in the 65+ age group in Merton, the majority of which are retirees. This is due to the low-stress life associated with greater London and greener suburbs such as Wimbledon. Simultaneously, our borough saw a fall in population in the 25-35 age group due to job opportunities and more affordable housing targeted at younger residents

 being more common in the inner city.

Another demographic that has been varying in the past few decades is the diversity of our boroughs.  As a result of globalisation and society’s progress in ethnic unity, practically all of London’s boroughs have seen an increase in diversity. More specifically in Merton, in less than a decade our levels of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnicities (BAME) has increased by 3%, and compared to other boroughs this is possibly considered small. The general increase is given that all parts of London had seen a surge of immigration in the last two decades, especially for secondary and tertiary employment which often requires skills from other nations. We can analyse that Merton has seen the least increase of BAME inhabitants thus far possibly due to its historically white-dominated demographic and due to central London being more welcoming to minority groups.

All of these patterns that we have seen in the past decade will fluctuate following the Brexit bill that was passed earlier this year. Britain leaving the EU will likely cause periodic economic instability and far harsher borders to lessen immigration.  Consequentially, it is likely that Merton will see a slight population decrease, little increase in ethnic or cultural diversity and a dip in housing prices. A director at Surrenden Invest’s has said that they expect a “softening of the market as buyers hold their collective breath” during the post-Brexit years.