A GROWING racial divide in Britain’s biggest cities is emerging, according to a detailed study of census figures published today.
The analysis also finds for the first time in Britain evidence of the American phenomenon of “white flight” as whites leave districts with high ethnic minority populations.
In some inner-city areas members of ethnic minorities are becoming more isolated from the white population as a result of whites moving out.
The spread of ethnic minorities to almost every local council area means, however, that the white population in general is becoming less isolated from ethnic minorities, the study by academics at the London School of Economics concludes.
A study of change in the white population in London, the West Midlands, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester between 1991 and 2001 found that white population losses were highest in the districts with the highest ethnic minority populations in 1991. Anne Power, Professor of Social Policy at the LSE and an author of the study, said: “We are getting polarisation and a growing racial divide at one level but dispersal at another.”
She said that while ethnic minorities were represented in almost every area, they had become more concentrated in the districts where they had settled on arrival. “The white population in these areas is in decline and ethnic minorities are moving in,” Ms Power said. “White people do tend to move but it is not necessarily because of what people call white flight.”
It also found that the ethnic minority population grew at twice the rate of the white population. The ethnic minority population increase represented 73 per cent of the overall population growth. The white population grew by 600,000 and the ethnic minorities by 1.6 million.
Overall the population in 2001 comprised 52.4 million whites and 4.6 million from ethnic minority groups.
Ms Power said that the reasons for the rapid increase in the ethnic minority population were low death rates because of the age structure of the communities, high birth rates and record levels of immigration. The black African community has grown by more than 120 per cent to reach 485,000 and is approaching the size of the Afro-Caribbean community. The report shows a 73 per cent rise in the size of the Bangladeshi community and a 57 per cent rise in the Pakistani community to reach 283,000 and 747,000 respectively.
The Indian population increased by 25 per cent to just over 1 million, making it the largest black or Asian ethnic minority community.
Every minority ethnic group increased its population much more than the 1.2 per cent increase in the white community, the report Minority Ethnic Groups in Britain said. “The overall proportion of minority ethnic groups increased from 5.5 per cent in 1991 to 8.1 per cent in 2001, a substantial change within just ten years.”
Although most areas have an ethnic minority population, 61 per cent live in 37 local council areas, of which 26 are in London. More than 60 per cent of Afro-Caribbeans, 78 per cent of black Africans, 54 per cent of Bangladeshis and 42 per cent of Indians live in the capital.