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Policy Exchange - Ethnic minorities will make up a third of Britain by 2050


Stop treating ethnic minority communities as one voting bloc, says think tank as in-depth study reveals unique traits among different groups.

People from ethnic minority backgrounds will make up nearly a third of the UK’s population by 2050.
A major new study by leading think tank Policy Exchange reveals that the five largest distinct Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities could potentially double from 8 million people or 14% of the population to between 20-30% by the middle of the century.  Over the past decade, the UK’s White population has remained roughly the same while the minority population has almost doubled. Black Africans and Bangladeshis are the fastest growing minority communities with ethnic minorities representing 25% of people aged under the age of five.
The handbook, A Portrait of Modern Britain, draws on an extensive set of survey, census, academic and polling data to build up a detailed picture of the five largest minority groups in the UK – Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Black Africans and Black Caribbeans. The paper outlines the demographics, geography, life experiences, attitudes and socioeconomic status of each of these major ethnic groups. The purpose of the research is to show that there are clear and meaningful differences between each of these communities, which need to be fully understood by policymakers and politicians.
The study also reveals that while the face of Britain has changed and is continuing to become even more multi-racial, people from ethnic minority backgrounds have a far stronger association with being British than the White population. In the 2011 Census, only 14% of Whites identified themselves as being purely British, with 64% seeing themselves as purely English. All other ethnic minority communities were over four times more likely to associate themselves with being British. 71% of Bangladeshis and 63% of Pakistanis considered themselves purely British. A quarter of the Black Caribbean community see themselves as purely English, while just over half (55%) see themselves as just British.
Other key findings include:

  • Ethnic minority communities predominantly live in three main cities, with 50% living in London, Manchester and Birmingham alone. They are seven times more likely to live in an urban area than someone who is white. The Indian community is the most dispersed, the Bangladeshis the least. The Pakistani community is predominantly based in towns in the North and the Midlands, while over half of all the Black community lives in
  • While most ethnic minority groups live in large households (bigger than the White population), this is not true for Black Caribbeans. Pakistani and Bangladeshi households are the biggest, containing four or more people. 40% of Black people live in social housing, while two thirds of Indians and Pakistanis live in their own accommodation.
  • Although all BME communities have higher levels of unemployment and low level of full time workers than the White community, Indians cluster in the highest skilled professions. Almost all minority groups, except the Indian community, have unemployment rates double the national average.  Black Africans (18.3%) have the highest unemployment rate. 39% of Pakistani and 42% of Bangladeshi women have never worked. 24% of Pakistani men are taxi drivers and half of all Bangladeshi men work in restaurants. In contrast 43% of Indians work in the highest skilled professions.
  • All minority groups have higher proportions of students staying on in formal education, especially university, at 16 and 18 than the White population. All minority groups have higher proportions of students attending Sixth Form and then staying in some form of education post A-levels than the White population. Bangladeshi are the fastest improving group at Key Stage 5 (GCSE) and 70% of Indian students go to university, compared to 43% of White students.
  • All BME communities – regardless of age and social class - strongly support the Labour Party, but Indians are up to four times more likely to identify with the Conservatives. 17% of Indians identify with the Conservatives compared with 4% of Black Africans, 7% of Black Caribbeans, 8% of Bangladeshis and 9% of Pakistanis.
  • All ethnic minority groups have a higher trust in Parliament and politicians in general than the White population, except the Black Caribbean community where only 1 in 5 trust politicians. Trust in the police is high among all communities except Black Caribbeans, with only 42% saying they have faith in the police.

Rishi Sunak, co-author of the handbook, said:
“The face of Britain has changed and will keep changing over the next 30 years. From the post-war arrival of Jamaicans and Indians to the recent influx of Africans, the UK is now home to a melting pot of different cultures and traditions.
“These communities will continue to become an ever more significant part of Britain, especially in future elections. However, as our research demonstrates ethnic minorities are not one homogeneous political group.  From education to employment, housing to trust in the police, politicians from all parties must understand the different issues affecting individual communities.”

A Portrait of Modern Britain

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