“England is my city” may have become one of the most memorable lines of any song this year, although in terms of the artist’s credibility, for all the wrong reasons. The line was penned by viral video entrepreneur, Nick Crompton, and featured in the song “It’s Everyday Bro”, that was written by another YouTube star, Jake Paul. Some people applaud such artists for exploiting a (neesh) niche, while critics decry this prefab art as an Idiocracy in the making. Whatever you think, Crompton should have known better as he hails from the industrial city of Bradford in northern England, a place renowned for its once illustrious textile industry, illegal substance addiction epidemic, and the occasional race riot. His line has since become a meme denoting stupidity and has been parodied numerous times. Today we are making his line a reality for all, in this episode of the Infographics Show, What If England was EVERYBODY’S city.
England is not a city, as you well know. It’s a country that is part of the United Kingdom, along with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The name England comes from the Angles that invaded England in the 5th century from what we now call Germany, and before that the Romans had named this spot Britannica. It’s the largest country in the United Kingdom, which in itself had a population of 65,580,886 as of September 4th, 2017. That’s only about 0.87% of the entire world’s population. The population of just England is said to be around 84% of the UK, which makes it almost exactly 55 million. If England was a city like Crompton tells us it is, it would be a large one, home to more people than the world’s most populated city of Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo’s metropolitan area has somewhere between 38 and 39 million people living in it.
Would all the world’s 7.5 billion people fit into our city of England? The total land area of England is 49,944 square miles (129,355 sq. km) and it also has a water area of 594 square miles (1,540 sq. km). From top to bottom it’s not very long at all, with a distance of about 346 miles (558 km) from the border with Scotland in the north to the coast of Portsmouth in the south. At its widest point it’s only about 181 miles (292 km). If you want to imagine what England might look like, look no further than the hit series Game of Thrones. Author of the books, George RR Martin, has never denied that he loosely based the story on ancient Britain, with his Seven Kingdoms being something like the main regions of England. Those are the Northeast, Northwest, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, East, London, Southeast, and Southwest. The northerners in the series even have Yorkshire accents and seem like a simple group of tough folks protecting the people from the wild and monstrous things over the wall. The Romans even built their own giant wall in northern England, called Hadrian’s Wall, which was built as much as a border that could be controlled, as it was to keep out marauding tribes. So, in our city of England, you can imagine you come from one of these Games of Thrones type areas. By the way, our geographical genius Nick Crompton, would be from Winterfell. It’s only fitting then that he actually looks and sounds just like Samwell Tarly.
But could we all fit in England? The answer seems to be yes, but it wouldn’t be very comfortable. According to National Geographic, when the world’s population was just over 7 billion, if we all stood shoulder to shoulder we could fit snugly within 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometers) of Los Angeles. According to another story on the same subject in Gizmodo, if we took the world’s population – 50.5% of whom live in cities and 49.5% in rural areas – and used the most densely populated places in the world of Singapore, Mumbai, Manila, Tokyo, Kowloon (Hong Kong) as how we might live packed together, we could fit every single person in the world in the area of Palestine. Palestine has a smaller area than England at 2,400 sq. miles (6,220 km2). As it stands most people in England live in cities such as London, Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds and Birmingham. Industrial England is quite densely populated, but the good news is most of the country has a very low population density compared to those places. We do indeed have a home.
So, here we all are in our city of England. It’s hard to say how we would survive or if we would survive, but as this show is obviously not attempting to suggest it could ever happen, we will look at present day England to see how we might all live. Most of us adults would be in work as England right now has a low unemployment rate of around 4.7%. We would however be suffering from relatively low wages compared to the cost of living. When looking at statistics for average wages and so forth, the only available ones are for the entire UK, so we’ll have to use that for our England facts.
The average gross income for full time employees in our crammed city would be 35,739 US dollars (27,600 pounds) a year. This is far less than the average in the United States, which is around 60,000 dollars. If we earned the average wage we’d have to pay 20% basic income tax. If we earned 58,272 dollars (45,001 pounds), we’d be paying 40 percent tax, and on anything over 194,237 dollars, (150,000 pounds) a year we’d be paying 45 percent tax. According to the Guardian many of the UK’s top earners often evade paying tax as they have found ways to get around the system.
We might now ask if our city of England is an ideal place to live. Every year there is something published called the World Happiness Report. It takes into account data on wages, cost of living, health, freedom to make life choices, social support, and corruption. The top five countries in 2017 are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland. The United Kingdom is in 19th place and the US in 14th place. According to an article in Fortune magazine, the worst wealth disparity in a rich country in 2015 was in the United States. The UK was in fourth place behind Japan and China. If we were part of a low income family we would have an average of 123 dollars (95 pounds) in savings and investments. High income families in 2017 had an average of 81,430 dollars (62,885 pounds). According to British newspaper The Mirror, the average household will have 16,833 dollars (13,000 pounds) of consumer debt and one in the three of us Englanders will be paying for Christmas on credit.
Forgetting about money, what would we be doing in England the city? Well, according to recent statistics, about 50 percent of adult men would be married, as would 47.6 percent of women. According to the Office for National Statistics, about 34 percent of us over the age of 16 would be single. According to the same office, women on average in our city would be having 1.83 children and on average waiting until they were 30.2 years old before they had their first child.
What else would we be doing? England is certainly not noted for its good weather, and so a lot of people spend much of their lives indoors. According to recent studies three-quarters of children in the UK spend less time outdoors than the UK’s prison inmates. This is not only due to the inclement weather, but also because young folks these days spend so much time online. Sport is still popular, with the most popular being soccer (or football to the rest of the world), followed by tennis, rugby, cricket and golf in no particular order. The most popular activity, though, is watching television. In our country we’d be expected to watch around 216 minutes a day if we wanted to be average, which is high on a global scale, but not as high as the 274 minutes of TV US citizens watch on average every day. Some things have changed though, and that is how the average English bloke and bloke-ess spends time down at the local pub. In 2009 it was reported that the average Brit would spend just over an entire year on average of his or her life in the pub. This has now been overtaken by how much time the average Brit spends updating and browsing social media, which is said to be around 3 years and 10 days in one lifetime on average. It should come as no surprise then that the inspiration behind our show is a social media content creator with a following the size of a country.
We’ll end the show there on this changing of habits. How would you feel about living in England the city? Do you think you are similar in some ways to the average English person?