Mixed-Race Britain, 2005

Article excerpt

Byline: STEVE DOUGHTY;MATTHEW BAYLEY

THE extent to which Britain is becoming a mixed-race society was revealed by the Government yesterday.

A snapshot of the nation showed that the number of people from ethnic minorities has increased by 50 per cent in a decade.

And more people are marrying or living with someone from a different racial background.

The survey also showed that immigration overtook birthrate as the main reason for the growth of the population.

Over the same ten-year period, the number of people in Britain who were born abroad rose by nearly a third.

The breakdown from the Office for National Statistics showed that one in 50 marriages involves a husband and wife from different ethnic groups.

Nearly half of all the married black men born in Britain choose someone from a different racial background, it said.

According to the ONS, 219,000 marriages are between people from different ethnic backgrounds, and around one in ten of them include two people from different non-white ethnic groups.

Young men who described themselves in the 2001 census as 'other black' - mainly black men who were born in Britain - were most likely to marry a bride from a different background.

Some 48 per cent did so, in most cases marrying white women.

Black men were more likely than black women to marry someone from another ethnic group, while Chinese women were more likely than Chinese men to marry someone from a different background.

The analysis of ethnicity and immigration was put together for Social Trends, the annual statistical portrait of the country which has provided a detailed picture of the changes in British society over the last 35 years.

ONS chief Len Cook said: 'Waves of immigration from different parts of the world have helped shape the ethnic mix of the country.

'In the 1950s and 60s many immigrants came from the Caribbean, followed in the late 1960s and early 1970s by immigrants from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and, in the past ten years, from Africa.' He added: 'The proportion of the population from a nonwhite ethnic minority is eight per cent.

'However, ethnic diversity and minority ethnic communities are most common in London - 29 per cent of the population of London is from a minority ethnic group.' Mr Cook added that in London more than four out of ten children under the age of 15 are from the ethnic minorities.

According to the analysis, the ethnic minority population grew by about 50 per cent between 1991 and 2001, from just over three million people to over 4.5million.

Over the same period, the number of Britons born over- seas went up by around a third to more than eight per cent.

Some migrants from overseas, however, stay in Britain longer than others.

Social Trends showed that around two-thirds of Americans and Canadians return home within five years of arriving in Britain, as do more than half of Australian and New Zealand migrants.

By contrast, only 15 per cent of migrants from the Indian subcontinent return home within five years of arriving in Britain.

In 2003, the breakdown shows, birthrate was responsible for an increase in the population of just under 70,000, while migration added an extra 150,000 people.

Until now, population growth in Britain has always had more to do with births and deaths than immigration.

According to the analysis, just under half of the 158,000 people who migrated into Britain each year between 1998 and 2002 gave education as their reason for coming.

Just over 10,000 a year said they were coming to work and 26,000 said they were here to join a 'partner' - in keeping with Government policy of avoiding mention of marriage where possible.

Some 65,000 people a year came for other reasons, which can include asylum seeking, looking for work, and taking a long holiday. …