Ethnic minorities seeing majority of population growth

Ethnic minorities will make up a fifth of the population of the UK by the middle of the century, according to a new study.

Experts from the University of Leeds believe the ethnic minority share of the population will rise from 8 per cent in 2001 to 20 per cent in 2051.

Meanwhile, the white share of the population will shrink from 92 per cent to 79 per cent over the same period.

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The study also revealed that ethnic minorities will shift from living largely in deprived local authority areas to more affluent areas, making them significantly less segregated from the rest of the population.

The three-year study included population projections for 352 local authorities in England, and projections for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, for each year until 2051.

The team found striking differences in the growth rates of the 16 ethnic groups studied. White British and Irish groups are expected to be very slow-growing, as well as Black Caribbean, while the Other White group is projected to grow the fastest, driven by immigration from Europe, the United States and Australasia.

The groups classed as Mixed, such as those made up of a mix of whites and Asians and whites and black Africans, is also projected to see rapid growth, as are traditional immigrant groups of south Asian origin, such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Project leader Professor Philip Rees said: "The ethnic make-up of the UK's population is evolving significantly.

"Groups outside the white British majority are increasing in size and share, not just in the areas of initial migration, but throughout the country, and our projections suggest that this trend is set to continue through to 2051.

"At a regional level, ethnic minorities will shift out of deprived inner city areas to more affluent areas, which echoes the way white groups have migrated in the past. In particular, black and Asian populations in the least deprived local authorities will increase significantly."

He said the reasons for the differences in projected growth rates included immigration patterns and the varying age structures of different groups.

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Whereas the Asian groups had many people at an age suitable for having children, others such as the white British had fewer in this category, with a generally older population.

Mr Rees believes the UK will benefit from a more diverse society. He said: "Each group can learn from talking to other groups.

I might not be entirely typical but I'm married to an American, my son is married to a Thai woman and my daughter is married to a German."

And he added: "Some people will get anxious and worried when the community around them appears to change, but most studies show that the fear of ethnic change is greatest among those who have least experience of it."

The research team investigated ethnic population trends at a local scale in the UK and built a computer model to project those trends under a variety of scenarios for the future.

They used existing data on the 16 ethnic groups recognised in the 2001 census, along with demographic factors such as immigration, emigration, fertility and mortality.

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