Brighton and the Jedi: 2001 census
The basic data are straightforward enough: there were 247,817 people living in 114,476 households, making the average size of household 2.09 persons, which was well below the national average for England & Wales of 2.36. As many as 43.4 per cent of the city’s population aged 16 and over had never married, as opposed to 30.0 per cent nationally.
Fewer married: more old people
The proportion of households comprising married couples was even lower at 23.9 per cent, compared with the 36.55 per cent for the country as a whole. Co-habiting couple households, however, exceeded the national average of 8.28 per cent by coming in at 11.55 per cent. And the proportion of one-person households (30.02 per cent for England & Wales) was 44.45 per cent in Brighton & Hove.
The age structure was skewed towards older people: a smaller proportion aged under 16 (only 16.65 per cent against 20.16 per cent nationally) and more over 85 (2.62 per cent against 1.95 per cent.
Religion: knights to remember
So you could say that Brighton & Hove was already differentiated from the rest of the country. And that was even before we consider religion. Six out of 10 inhabitants (59.10 per cent) declared themselves to be Christian and more than a quarter (27.02 per cent) said they had no religion. Another 8.68 per cent did not answer the question, which was a voluntary element, included on the census form for the first time outside Northern Ireland.
Among the remainder who did answer the largest segment were not Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh or Quaker but … Jedi. As many as 6,480 people-2.8 per cent of the entire population-claimed that the Force was their faith. This gave the city the highest proportion of Jedi Knights for any urban centre in the country and the largest numerical concentration anywhere except Bristol.
So unusual was this phenomenon that some now believe it to be an urban myth. Not so. The Office of National Statistics has the evidence. Yet one wonders how many of those 6,480 kept faith with Yoda’s precept: ‘A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind.’