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Multi-ethnic neighbourhoods have increased across England and Wales

Press release issued: 23 April 2013

Many more Whites live in mixed neighbourhoods in 2011 than 2001, according to first analyses of recently-released census data, although there was no movement towards creation of substantial Indian, Pakistani, or Bangladeshi exclusive neighbourhoods, study finds.

The increased multi-ethnic composition of the population of England and Wales between 2001-2011 has been paralleled by the increased multi-ethnic character of many residential neighbourhoods, especially in London, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

In particular, many fewer Whites lived in predominantly White neighbourhoods, especially in London: whereas in 2001 over half of all Whites there lived in small neighbourhoods where at least 80 per cent of their neighbours were white, by 2011 that share had fallen to less than one-third.  In 2011, 19 per cent of London's Whites lived in areas with a Non-White majority compared to 9 per cent a decade earlier.

However, the study, by Professor Ron Johnston of Bristol's School of Geographical Sciences and colleagues, found that there has been no movement towards the creation of substantial neighbourhoods that are exclusively Indian, Pakistani, or Bangladeshi.

Those identifying with the three main South Asian groups were less likely, in 2011, to live in areas where Whites were in the majority than were those with Black or other ethnic identities.  Although South Asians were more likely than members of other ethnic groups to live in neighbourhoods where Non-Whites dominated, there is no evidence of growing enclaves where members of only one of these groups predominate.  They were living in mixed areas too but with a different type of mix than Whites and other Non-Whites.  Most Chinese and members of the main Black ethnic groups lived in neighbourhoods with White majorities, for example.

Such increased residential mixing is a characteristic of only a few urban areas, however: England and Wales as a whole are dominated by areas where Whites comprise more than 80 per cent of the total population.

Professor Johnston said: "Showing that there is more sharing of small residential spaces by members of different ethnic groups does not provide evidence of greater social contact across groups – and thus the emergence of a truly multi-ethnic/multi-cultural society.

"But this first picture of the changing small-scale geography of England and Wales and their major city provides a valuable framework within which more detailed research can be undertaken.  English/Welsh society has changed substantially over the twenty-first century’s first decade."

The study is the first of its kind to use detailed data (released at the end of January 2013) from the 2011 Census of England and Wales, and the first examination of the ethnic composition of each of the output areas (OAs) employed for reporting the 2001 and 2011 census data.  In 2011 the 181,408 OAs had an average population of 309 people.


'Multi-ethnic residential areas in a multi-ethnic country? A decade of major change in England and Wales' by Ron Johnston, Michael Poulsen and James Forrest in Environment and Planning A

About Professor Ron Johnston

Professor Ron Johnston is an eminent geographer and political scientist who has published more than 50 books and over 900 academic journal articles and book chapters on his three research interests: electoral studies, urban social geography, and the history of geography.  Recently, he was involved in changing the legislation for the definition of British Parliamentary constituencies as well as analysing voter behaviour and party funding in the UK.

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