Analysis: Revealing positives and negatives of mobility

The key implication of this study is much greater diversity across Britain and that is to be welcomed.

One of the major challenges that Britain faces in the next few years is how to break down some of the racial and social barriers that have been built up over the past few decades.

This research suggests there is a natural process of population movement that might help to break down such barriers, with integration taking place across many more parts of Britain than previously suggested.

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Ethnic minorities are often currently associated with urban centres. However, this research suggests they will, over the next few decades, be represented across the country, moving in larger numbers into suburban areas and eventually into rural areas too.

That process of mobility will assist in dissolving some of the assumptions and stereotypes linked to different minorities.

Currently ethnic minorities are often portrayed as having lower incomes, even though that is often not the case. The migration process will make much more visible the fact that this economic divide is often not as great as perceived - as ethnic communities adopt behaviours linked to wealth, such as suburban living and buying larger houses, this will start to become clear.

However, as well as having many positive implications, the projections in this report are likely to lead to some more negative consequences.

As ethnic minorities move from areas of deprivation to some of the least deprived areas, the question will be who then fills the gaps left behind?

Those people moving out will leave behind areas of deprivation which will in time be filled by others. Such areas will probably become home to new migrants coming into the country, who as this research notes, will largely be new ethnic minorities.

As a result of this, racial and ethnic tensions will not necessarily be dispersed by the trends that the researchers have identified.

And there will also be consequences of the movement of ethnic minorities into more affluent communities.

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There has been a big push towards mixed communities by the Labour government over the past ten years, as well as by the current coalition government.

But mixing of communities is not always welcomed - research has shown that for many people, their views of the most desirable and sustainable communities are ones that are much more segregated.

So there exists the possibility of new tensions arising. This will be less marked if it is a case of gradual absorption. However, if as the report seems to suggest, the process will be rapid, it could lead to resistance.

Dr Robert Rogerson is head of the department of geography and sociology at the University of Strathclyde