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Minority group numbers set to rise to 20 per cent

Ethnic minorities will make up a fifth of the population by 2051, according to research published today.

According to experts from the University of Leeds, the ethnic minority share of the population will increase from 8 per cent (2001) to around 20 per cent. The UK population overall will rise to nearly 78 million, from 59 million in 2001.

The study also revealed that ethnic minorities will shift from deprived local authorities to more affluent areas, with ethnic groups to be significantly less segregated from the rest of the population.

The team found striking differences in the 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 research team investigated ethnic population trends at a local scale in the UK and built a computer model to project those trends under a variety of scenarios for the future. They used existing data on the 16 ethnic groups recognised in the 2001 census, along with demographic factors such as immigration, emigration, fertility and mortality.

Project leader, professor Philip Rees, said: "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."