Demos, the Left-wing think-tank, said its analysis of Census data for England and Wales showed ethnic minorities are concentrating in particular areas and white people are moving out.
The findings echo a phenomenon first seen in the mid-20th century United States–where it was dubbed “white flight”–which saw racially-mixed urban areas become predominantly black as affluent whites moved to the suburbs.
The research is significant because Demos, which was once closely linked with the previous Labour government which increased immigration to record levels, suggested ethnic minorities are becoming more isolated in British life rather than becoming more integrated in a “multi-cultural” Britain.
It found 4.6 million ethnic minority Britons–about 45 per cent of the country’s black and Asian population–are now living in areas where whites are in a minority.
Ten years ago just one million black and Asian people, or 25 per cent of the country’s then total ethnic minority population, lived in such communities, said Demos.
In the 2001 Census, 282 of the 8,850 council wards in England and Wales were classed as “high non-white” or “highest non-white” by Demos, but in the 2011 Census that figure had risen to 414.
David Goodhart, director of Demos said: “This has uncovered a really quite shocking level of concentration of the ethnic minority population, which means there is less opportunity for interaction with the white mainstream.”
Demos’s research said in minority-dominated areas new waves of immigrants such as Somalis take up housing vacated by established minorities, such as Afro-Caribbeans.
“This means a dissipation of ethnic concentrations, but also an increase in the number of people who have limited contact with white British people,” it said.
The paper attributed the changes to white British people choosing not to move to minority-dominated areas.
Trevor Phillips, a former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality and its successor, described it as “majority retreat”.
Mr Phillips, who is now a Demos associate, said: “This very interesting piece of research reveals a number of vital findings about how people in England and Wales are living together.
“What ought to make us a little anxious is the ‘majority retreat’ it has unearthed – white people leaving minority-led areas and not returning – which isn’t good news for the cause of integration.”
The research by Eric Kaufmann, professor of politics at Birkbeck College, London, also showed some ethnic minorities are spreading out more into white-dominated parts of the country.
Black and Asian people are becoming less rare in provincial England because there are now fewer than 800 council wards that are more than 98 per cent white compared with more than 5,000 in 2001.
Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migration Watch said the findings were a sign that Britain is becoming more segregated.
He said: “This is extremely serious. It is undeniable evidence that we have indeed been sleepwalking into segregation as Trevor Phillips warned seven years ago and it is the clear result of Labour’s mass immigration policy.
“Public dismay at the pace of change in our communities largely explains why so many voted as they did in last week’s local elections.
“The case for a sharp reduction in immigration is now overwhelming; we cannot possibly integrate new arrivals on anything like the present scale.”