U. LEEDS (UK)—The ethnic makeup of the UK will change dramatically over the next 40 years, with the country becoming far more ethnically diverse and geographically integrated, according to new projections.

Ethnic minorities are expected to make up one-fifth of the population by 2051 (compared to 8 percent in 2001), with the mixed ethnic population expected to treble in size.

The country will also become far less segregated as ethnic groups disperse throughout the country.

These initial findings of a three-year study include population projections for 352 local authorities in England, and projections for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, for each year until 2051.

Among the key projections for 2051 are:

  • UK population could reach almost 78 million  (59 million in 2001)
  • White British, White Irish, and Black Caribbean groups will experience slowest growth
  • Other White (Australia, US and Europe) and Mixed will experience the biggest growth
  • Ethnic minority share of the population will increase from 8 percent (2001) to around 20 percent
  • Ethnic minorities will shift from deprived local authorities to more affluent areas
  • Ethnic groups will be significantly less segregated from the rest of the population

The team found striking differences in the respective growth rates of the 16 ethnic groups studied.

White British and Irish groups are expected to be very slow-growing, while the Other White group is projected to grow the fastest, driven by immigration from Europe, the US, and Australasia. Traditional immigrant groups of south Asian origin (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) will also grow rapidly in size.

“The ethnic makeup of UK’s population is evolving significant, says University of Leeds professor Philip Rees.

Groups outside the White British majority are increasing in size and share, not just in the areas of initial migration, but throughout the country and our projections suggest that this trend is set to continue through to 2051.

“At a regional level, ethnic minorities will shift out of deprived inner city areas to more affluent areas, which echoes the way white groups have migrated in the past. In particular black and Asian populations in the least deprived local authorities will increase significantly.”

The research team investigated ethnic population trends at a local scale in the United Kingdom and built a computer model to project those trends under a variety of scenarios for the future.

Existing data on the 16 ethnic groups recognised in the 2001 census were used, along with demographic factors such as immigration, emigration, fertility, and mortality.

The variety of assumptions about how these factors could develop and change over time generated five different scenarios for population makeup for each year until 2051.

Each of the five projections has different absolute figures for ethnic groups and the population size as a whole, which the authors say highlights the difficulty in predicting trends such as migration.

“It is impossible to predict exactly how people will move into, out of, and within the country the coming decades as all of these trends are influenced by a whole range of socio-economic factors,” Rees says.

“However, our results suggest that overall we can look forward to being not only a more diverse nation, but one that is far more spatially integrated than at present.”

More news from University of Leeds: www.leeds.ac.uk/news