Posted on January 19, 2009

Revealed: the Rise of Mixed-Race Britain

Anushka Asthana and David Smith, Observer (London), Jan. 18, 2009

One in 10 children in the UK now lives in a mixed-race family, a major study reveals today, raising future hopes of a non-racist Britain.

Mixed-race relationships are now so common that some ethnic groups–starting with African-Caribbean–will virtually disappear, the research states. Young people are six times more likely to be mixed-race as adults. Experts believe the findings, which come just days after Prince Harry was rebuked for calling a fellow cadet “Paki”, and Prince Charles admitted to referring to an Asian friend as “Sooty”, mean that future generations “will not see race in the way we see it”.

Lucinda Platt, author of the report and an academic at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at Essex University, describes the shift towards a mixed-race Britain as “dramatic”.

Half of all men in Britain who have Caribbean heritage and are in a relationship already have partners of a different race. The same is true of one in five black African men, one in 10 Indian men and women and two out of five Chinese women. One in five children belongs to an ethnic minority–a far higher proportion than among the adult population.

This week, a decade on from the Macpherson report into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence, Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, will “celebrate” the study’s findings, but warn that there is still much to be fought for.

A spokeswoman for the commission warned against complacency. “We need to be alert to tensions within communities that may be exacerbated by economic downturn and to remain vigilant against discrimination and divisiveness–particularly across boundaries of faith.”

Today’s study, commissioned by the EHRC and seen exclusively by the Observer, shows that 9% of children are of “mixed or multiple heritage”–that is, they live with parents from different ethnic groups, or they are themselves of mixed ethnicity. Over the past 14 years the number of children of Caribbean heritage with one white parent has risen from 39% to 49%. Among the Indian population it has increased from 3% to 11%, for Pakistanis from 1% to 4%, and for Chinese from 15% to 35%.

Minorities also tend to be younger. While half of the white British population in Britain is aged over 40, half of the Bangladeshi community is under 21.