The number of mixed race people in Britain may be double the official count, say researchers.
The study suggests that there may be as many as two million from a mixed ethnic background instead of just under one million, which was the official estimate made earlier this year.
The new figures mean that children of mixed parents may be one of the biggest ethnic groups in the country, outnumbering those who class themselves as black and much bigger than the largest single non-white grouping–those of Indian origin.
The estimate suggests that racial barriers in Britain are much less important than many have believed, and that integration is a reality for a high proportion of the population.
It also casts a stark new light on the way many children trapped in the state care system have been denied a chance of a new home through adoption because social workers will not allow mixed race adoptions.
The latest estimate was compiled by academics and disclosed by BBC 2’s Newsnight yesterday.
They say that while official surveys are based on counts of people who say yes when asked if they are mixed race, more accurate numbers can be produced by asking for the ethnicity of their parents.
This question is thought to produce better answers from those who find the description ‘mixed race’ ugly or offensive.
According to the analysis carried out by Dr Alita Nandi at the Institute for Social and Economic Research, the alternative way of counting mixed-race individuals produces a figure of 1.99 per cent of adults, as opposed to the 0.88 per cent who say they are mixed race when asked directly.
Newsnight added that, based on Office for National Statistics surveys, 2.9 per cent of children are described as mixed race, but 8.9 per cent live with parents who have a different ethnic background.
It said: ‘There may be around two million mixed-race people living in the UK–3 per cent of the population and therefore a larger group than any of the defined ethnic minorities.’
The BBC also found figures suggesting that those of mixed race are likely to be successful.
It said 73 per cent reach national educational standards at the age of ten, compared with 77 per cent of white children and 65 per cent of black children.
Among mixed white and Asian children, the proportion of ten-year-olds reaching expected standards is 79 per cent, the same as Indian children and higher than the 67 per cent among Pakistani and Bangladeshi children.
The BBC cited examples of successful mixed-race people from showbusiness and sport, including Myleene Klass, Lewis Hamilton, Leona Lewis, Mark Ramprakash, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand.
The analysis comes in the wake of promises from David Cameron to speed up the adoption system which has blocked the chances of many of the 65,000 children in state care from finding permanent new families.
Social workers stick to a doctrine–unlawful in any other walk of life–that adoptive parents must be of the same ethnic mix as the children they take on.
This has had a major impact with just one baby a week–of any race–getting a new family.