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  • Author or Editor: Ludi Simpson x
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This chapter outlines the available approaches to understanding and interpreting local population change, in the context of government policy for community cohesion. It first addresses the claims that residential segregation is dangerous and friendship networks are polarised. The chapter then describes the existing advice on local demographic monitoring and provides further practical guidance to assist policy makers in developing the necessary contextual information for the evaluation of local initiatives. The ethnic composition of neighbourhoods and friendship networks still taxes the popular image of successful communities, and stimulates academic and government concerns. The importance of monitoring population composition in order to understand change has been repeatedly claimed but remains a gap in practice. Neighbourhood population studies do provide an essential context for policies of social cohesion, and suffer from a lack of updated information between Censuses of Population.

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  • Britain’s cities are more ethnically diverse than ever before. Slough, Luton and Leicester are the first local authorities outside London that are already plural, where no ethnic group is in the majority.

  • The census itself has changed how Britain’s diversity is measured, by dividing White into White British, Irish, Gypsy or Irish Traveller, and Other White.

  • Cities labelled by politicians as ‘segregated’ are, in fact, the most diverse. For example, Bradford and Leicester both have more than 1,000 residents from each of 15 ethnic categories measured in the census, and over 30,000 residents from diverse groups that the census labels as ‘Mixed’ or ‘Other White’, ‘Other Asian’, ‘Other Black’ or simply ‘Other’.

  • Increased diversity over a decade is small but steady: every local authority district except Forest Heath has increased its diversity since 2001.

  • A projection of ethnic diversity suggests that the future will include many local authorities where White British is not the largest group, but no other single ethnic group is likely to become the majority of any city’s population.

  • The future of Britain is a greater variety of diverse areas.

Plural cities is a concept used in discussions about how local government policies might change when the population is so ethnically mixed that no one group is the majority.

Local government deals with diverse areas on an everyday basis: not only ethnic and cultural diversity, but also the needs of young adults and older people, those in rural and urban neighbourhoods, those with powerful organisations to represent them, and those without. The changing ethnic composition of an area is a guide to changing needs inasmuch as it may indicate a variety of preferences for housing size, for types of school meals, for care of older people, for cultural and entertainment facilities, for funereal procedures or for other aspects of local services.

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The dynamics of diversity

As debates around ethnic identity and inequality gain both political and media interest, this important book is the first to offer in-depth analysis from the last three UK population censuses focusing on the dynamics of ethnic identity and inequalities in contemporary Britain. While providing a comprehensive overview, it also clarifies concepts associated with greater ethnic diversity, increased segregation, exclusive growth of minority groups through immigration and a national identity crisis.

The contributions, all from experts in the field based at or affiliated to the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity, highlight persistent inequalities in access to housing, employment, education and good health faced by some ethnic groups. The book will be a valuable resource for policy makers and researchers in national and local government, community groups, academics, students, and will act as an authoritative text to cite in reports, dissertations and funding applications.

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Ethnicity is at the centre of major political debates in Britain. From diverse perspectives, politicians and campaigners have highlighted differences between ethnic groups in where they live, the skills and education they are provided with, the jobs they have and the healthcare they receive. The measurement of these ethnic group differences has become increasingly complex as identities evolve, and more people mix within families, neighbourhoods and workplaces. Comparisons made 50 years ago between immigrants from the British New Commonwealth as a whole and the average experience of UK residents are now made between family origins of many more world regions, between immigrants and their children and grandchildren born and educated in the UK. The context of social policies has moved from race relations to also encompass the management of immigration and the integration of immigrants, religious discrimination and the relationships between ethnic and religious claims and state services, as well as the state’s response to terrorist threats.

In this book we show what the largest government statistical enquiry has to say about the dynamics of ethnic identity and inequality in contemporary Britain. The chapters draw on data from the decennial censuses of population in England, Wales and Scotland, which have asked a question on ethnic group since 1991. The first section shows how ethnic groups have grown, the places they are most diverse, how they perceive their national identity, and how ethnic identity changes over time. The second section looks at whether minority ethnic groups are residentially segregated and continue to face disadvantages in health, housing, employment, education and neighbourhoods.

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  • In 2011, one in five people in England and Wales (20 per cent) described their ethnic group as other than White British compared with 13 per cent in 2001.

  • The population other than White British, White Irish and Other White has doubled in size since 1991, from 3 to 7 million, while remaining a small minority of the total population in 2011 (14 per cent).

  • The Black African ethnic group has grown faster than any other minority group in the last two decades, doubling in 1991-2001 and 2001-11 to reach 990,000 in 2011.

  • Ethnic diversity is increasing in all parts of England and Wales, and at a faster rate in those places where minority ethnic groups were fewest in 2001.

  • Minority ethnic groups remained clustered in certain diverse urban areas, most notably London.

  • There has been continued ethnic group mixing within families. The number of people identifying with a ‘Mixed’ ethnic category increased by 82 per cent between 2001 and 2011 to more than a million.

  • The proportion of mixed households has grown in 346 out of 348 local authority districts in England and Wales. Excluding one-person households, one in eight households now have more than one ethnic group.

  • New measures in the census show that the majority of people from minority ethnic groups describe themselves as British, do not have a minority religion, and speak English as their main language.

British society is becoming increasingly ethnically diverse. This is a pattern that has been documented throughout the post-war period and more widely since the inclusion of an ethnic group question in the 1991 Census (Rees and Butt, 2004).

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  • Half of the population born abroad and living in England and Wales arrived in the UK aged 15-29. This is an age when they are economically productive and are unlikely to require or be eligible for state benefits.

  • All ethnic groups in England and Wales have grown in size since 2001 through more births than deaths, apart from White British and White Irish groups. Most have also grown through net migration into England and Wales.

  • The excess of births over deaths is because minority ethnic groups have a young age structure, not because of high fertility.

  • The fertility of most groups has increased a little in the 2000s, but overall there is less difference in family size between ethnic groups than in past decades.

  • For most ethnic groups whose first major immigration to the UK was over a generation ago, growth through further immigration is not as much as their ‘natural’ growth within England and Wales through an excess of births over deaths.

    • Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups have each grown by about 50 per cent during 2001-11, and mostly because more people have been born than have died.

    • For the Black Caribbean group, whose main immigration to the UK was now 60 years ago, growth has been less than 5 per cent; it was almost entirely due to the excess of births over deaths rather than further immigration.

    • The Indian group is an exception among established minority ethnic groups: it has grown through immigration during the period 2001-11 more than through an excess of births over deaths.

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  • Immigration and family-building have contributed to the rapid growth of Scotland’s minority ethnic groups who, by 2011, numbered 850,000, or 16 per cent of Scotland’s residents.

  • The largest minority is ‘White: Other British’ numbering 417,000 in 2011, an increase of 10 per cent over the decade. About three-quarters of this group were born in England.

  • Each minority group increased its population during the last decade.

  • The African population grew rapidly, from 5,000 in 2001 to 30,000 in 2011. This growth was mainly from immigration, and was focused on areas beyond those where African people had mainly lived before.

  • Other minority populations also dispersed across Scotland during the decade, growing faster outside of those areas in which they were most likely to be resident in 2001. The one exception is the Chinese population that has grown most in the student areas near universities where it was already concentrated.

  • Change in the census question itself has added diversity, now identifying the Polish population, for example. At 61,000, they are the second largest minority in 2011.

  • One in six of Scotland’s households of two or more people have more than one ethnicity represented.

  • Individuals with a ‘Mixed or multiple’ ethnic group number 20,000 people, or 0.4 per cent of the population.

  • Over half of Scotland’s residents in 2011 who were born outside the UK had arrived in 2004 or more recently. Immigration has increased more rapidly in Scotland in the past decade than in the rest of Britain.

Scotland’s diversity has increased both overall and in every local authority district.

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The chapters of this book have highlighted the ethnic dimension of Britain’s diverse population. When averaged across an ethnic group, the characteristics of individuals have striking differences compared to other groups’ education, health, housing, employment and location within Britain. The analysts who have presented and interpreted these chapters have explained many of these differences by referring to the historical development of Britain’s ethnic diversity, through immigration, adjustment, integration and contribution to the life of this country. In this chapter we discuss the implications of these findings for three main policy areas that have motivated the government to measure ethnicity. The first is the set of policies that address inequality brought about by discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnic or national background that has been illegal since the first Race Relations Act of 1965. The second area of policy addresses the diversity of preferences and needs that are associated with ethnicity, and the respect for these differences that goes hand-in-hand with equal access to services. The third area is concerned with community relations in a diverse society, which more recently has been associated with community cohesion and national security issues.

The last but no less substantial part of this chapter attempts to clarify some of the concepts and measurements that such policies require of social statistics, and asks how far we can rely on ethnic group differences to direct public policy.

Despite improvements in the health, employment, education, housing and neighbourhood deprivation of minority ethnic groups over the last 20 years, clear disadvantage persists in comparisons with the average experience of the White British group.

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