Asians emerge as the new moneymakers

Minority matters: Professor accused of stereotyping with prediction of `Jewish future' and `Irish future' for different ethnic groups
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Asians, particularly Indians, are set to become one of the most wealthy, dominant middle-class groups of the future, while Afro-Caribbeans are likely to be part of the inner-city working-classes, according to a report published yesterday.

But the study, based on the first national census of the British ethnic population, was yesterday criticised for stereotyping groups after an Oxford professor described Asians in the survey as facing a "Jewish future" and black people an "Irish future".

Among the findings of the study by leading academics is that new ethnic groups are emerging, notably "British blacks", who no longer associate themselves closely with their Caribbean origins, but have developed a new identity.

The 1991 Census, published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics, found that the ethnic minority in Britain is just about 3 million, or 5.5 per cent of the population.

The largest group is the Indian population at 840,000, followed by the Black-Caribbean population at 500,000 and the Pakistanis with 477,000. There are 212,000 Black-Africans, 163,000 Bangladeshis and 157,000 Chinese. The Irish community, which is not listed separately in the Census is believed to more than a million people.

Professor Ceri Peach, head of the social geography department at Oxford University, noted that Asians, particularly Indians and to a lesser extent the Pakistani population, but not the Bangladeshis, were becoming a population who were self-employed, owner-occupiers and white-collar workers, with professional qualifications. But that the Black-Caribbean population appeared to be heading for a working-class future: waged-labour, state-educated, and council houses-dwellers.

Part of the explanation for the success of the Indian population is the high level of education, success at finding economic independence and the tightening of immigration laws has meant that mainly skilled Indian people have entered Britain since the mid-1970s.

While admitting there was counter evidence for the generalisation, Professor Peach wrote: "One of the most telling summaries of the differences between the Caribbean and Asian settlement in Britain was that the Caribbean's faced what I term an `Irish future' while the Asians face a `Jewish future' ".

A spokesman for the Commission for Racial Equality described this comment as a "stereotype". Professor Peach replied yesterday: "It might be stereotyping, but I think it conveys the flavour of the generalisation."

In the report Professor Peach also argued that there was now a high level of mixed white and Black-Caribbean households or "marriages" - about one in four - which had helped lead to the emergence of a "Black British identity". This is linked to a decline in the Caribbean population, which rose from about 28,000 in 1951 to a peak of 550,000 in 1971, to about 500,000 in 1991. Since 1984 there have been more "Afro-Caribbean" people born in Britain than in the West Indies.

On the question of education the most qualified groups are the Chinese, Black-African, and Indians, who all have higher achievements than British- born whites. But despite this advantage the study found that "most ethnic minorities are doubly disadvantaged. They have poorer chances of obtaining employment than do British born whites with similar qualifications and they have poorer chances of entering....the service class".

The report concludes that the Indians and Chinese are among the groups of the high-performers, being well-educated, property-owning and professional, while Bangladeshis are at the other end of the scale.

Another reason for the success of the Indian population is that many skilled workers, particularly businessmen and administrators, were expelled from East Africa. A large number had an English education and were skilled at dealing with complex bureaucratic systems.

The ethnic groups are concentrated in the South-east and West Midlands, where about 40 per cent of the population live.

5 Ethnicity in the 1991 Census. Volume 2 - The ethnic minority populations of Great Britain, HMSO pounds 24.00. Issued by Office for National Statistics, Great George Street, London SW1P 3AQ Some of the main findings of the study into ethnic groups in Britain are:


Over 70 per cent of the group live in London and Birmingham. Levels of segregation are much lower than for African Americans in the United States and for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in this country. Suburbanisation of the population is clearly evident in their London distribution. The highest black Caribbean proportion in a single ward is Roundwood in Brent, north-west London. Unemployment rates are more than double the white average, and for young men, reach more than 40 per cent. The Caribbean population is much more concentrated into flats than houses.


Almost one-third, 32 per cent, of the Black-African population was born in England. They are the most qualified ethnic minority, particularly those in the age groups 30 to 44 and 45 to 59 - the result of the student origins of the very first generation of Black-African migrants. Two thirds of Black-Africans live in Inner London. The highest concentrations are in Lambeth where almost one in 10 of all black-Africans live and where they constitute about one in 15 of the population.


Of the Black-Other population, one-third described themselves as (black) British, 14 per cent as Mixed (black/white), 28 per cent as Mixed-Other and 25 per cent as a variety of other answers. The relatively large proportion of mixed parentage reflects the high incidence of inter-ethnic partnerships among those of Caribbean descent. The Black-Other population is extremely youthful and a high proportion of Black-Other families are described as being cohabiting couples and lone parents. BANGLADESHI The Bangladeshi population is the youngest and fastest growing of all the ethnic groups recorded in the 1991 Census. The average size of Bangladeshi households is 5.3 persons, more than double the national average of 2.5 persons. Over 60 per cent of households where the head was born in Bangladesh contain five or more people. More than half of Bangladeshis live in London, and just under half of London Bangladeshis, 43 per cent, live in the Borough of Tower Hamlets.


Just over one quarter of the Chinese population was born in Britain. About one-third of the Chinese population was born in Hong Kong. The Chinese population is more geographically dispersed than any other ethnic group. Although the stereotype of a Chinese is someone working in a restaurant or take-away, nearly 18 per cent of Chinese men are in professional occupations, compared with 7 per cent of white men.


About 7 in 10 were born in the Republic of Ireland, with the remainder born in Northern Ireland. The proportion, 7.6 per cent in the highest social group - those with professional occupations - is slightly higher than the average for all men. But Irish-born are over- represented amongst those who are homeless - sleeping rough, and those who are living in temporary accommodation in hostels and lodging houses.


The Indian population was the largest of all the ethnic groups numbering 840,000. Forty-one per cent were born in the United Kingdom, 37 per cent in India, and 17 per cent in the East Africa Commonwealth countries, such as Uganda. More than one half of the Indian population live in the South East. The social class profile of the Indian population is skewed both towards the upper echelons of white-collar work and also towards semi-skilled manual work. PAKISTANIS The Pakistani population is most numerous in West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Scotland. Almost six in every 10 Pakistani households consist of a married couple with dependent children, compared with five in 10 Indian households and 2 in 10 White households. Pakistani men are strikingly over-represented in catering industries compared with W hite men. OTHER GROUPS It appears that the largest other single group is of Arab or Middle-Eastern descent. Just over 40 per cent live in Greater London, but unlike other ethnic groups, the areas of highest concentration in Inner London are generally the affluent boroughs: Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea.