Globe, United Kingdom

Fewer white people in London

Over the past decade, 620,000 people have migrated to rural areas of England and Wales. Their place has been taken by an immigrant population, which has grown by 63% since 2001.


Viviendo en Londres 1Olga Briasco


Finding a white English person nowadays is rather difficult, as demonstrated the city’s core and ratified by the 2011 census figures, published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

This is because of the migratory flow, which has led to 7.5 million foreigners (13% of the total population) residing in the UK.

This flow also means that the British population has increased its figures by 7% in comparison to 2001, reaching 56.1 million people (53 million people in England and 3.1 million in Wales).

British muslimSince 2001, the population has increased by 2.9 million people, changing the face of Great Britain and London. The number of white British residents, however, fell by 620,000, equivalent to the total population of Glasgow.

Consequently, the white population has gone on to become a minority in the capital city, making up only 44.9% of the total population (3.7 million), according to the 2011 census. In 2001, this ethnic group numbered 4.3 million (58%).

This decline contrasts with the sharp increase in foreign-born residents, whose numbers have grown by 63% over the past 10 years.

Del porqué 02In terms of nationalities, the majority of foreign-born residents living in London come from India, making up 3% of the English capital’s total population. Those from Poland are a close second and make up 2% of the total population.

Thus, the city’s ethnic landscape can be painted as follows: White Other 14.9%; Asian 18.4%; Black 13.3%; Arab 1.3%; and Mixed Race 5%.

It is significant that 37% of London’s inhabitants were born outside of the UK, since ten years ago this population group made up only 25%. Moreover, 24% of the population are not British citizens.

Escape to the country

Del porqué 11This shift occurred primarily in the rural towns of England and Wales, where the population has increased by 200,000 people.

Increases can be particularly noted in South Derbyshire (13.7%), North Kesteven, in Lincolnshire (13%), Uttesford, in Essex (11.6%), East Northamptonshire (10.9%) and West Lindsey, in Lincolnshire (10.7%).

This movement means that today, the white British population is a minority in 24 of the 32 London boroughs. Neighbourhoods which have witnessed the greatest exodus are:  Newham (-37%); Barking and Dagenham (-30.6%); Slough (-30.3%); Redbridge (-29.8%); and Harrow (-28.5%).

Del porqué 14The most significant example is Barking and Dagenham, where a third of the white British population has relocated in the last decade.

Whereas the 2001 census indicated that over 80% of residents were white British, in 2011, they were a minority: only 49% described themselves as white British.

On the other hand, the white British population has a notable presence in Havering (83.3%), Bromley (77.4%), Bexley (77.3%) and Richmond upon Thames (71.4%).


La multicutluralidad 01The reasons behind people’s desire to leave the city are inaccurate and speculative. Some moved because their neighbourhood had transformed culturally, others because they wanted a more comfortable life, and others still because they found new opportunities.

For Andrew Green, president of MigrationWatch UK, this exodus is down to the fact that “people are not willing to live in an environment that has changed beyond all recognition and against their own desires.”

These words allude to the “White Flight” phenomenon, a term used to describe the mass departure of the native population from certain urban areas to more racially homogenous areas.

Based on the ideas of Thomas Schelling, the 2005 Nobel Prize Winner, members of a particular ethnic group will not move from a specific district provided that the members of other ethnic groups remain relatively low. However, should the level of other ethnic groups exceed a critical level, original residents can make snap decisions and leave.

Eric Kaufmann, a politics professor at Birkbeck College, stressed the importance of studying this phenomenon in detail. “Whether ethnic preferences are still the key factors in these mass movements should be properly studied.”

Del porqué 13“White people may leave because they want to go to better schools, cheaper homes, fresher air or because they are more likely to be able to retire, to be richer or to be better educated. Only a statistical approach where these factors are controlled will tell us whether ethnic preferences are the key”, says Kaufmann.

The scholar compares the situation in Britain to that of the United States, “where white Americans look for areas where more than 70% of the population is white.”

He also specifies that the large increase in Hispanic and Asian populations in the United States has led to an increased minority of theses ethnic groups in the more multicultural areas of the United States.

el multiculturalismo4An example of this can be found in California: this year, the Hispanic population will equal the white population, and is expected to become the largest demographic group in the state in 2014.

According to a government report, published in February 2013, white people accounted for 40% of the state’s population in 2010, and Hispanic people accounted for 38%.

Kaufmann wonders whether Britain will follow in the steps of the United States, and notes that this will depend on the residential preferences of the white British working class and whether they act on these.

This question is still up in the air, as much of the population continues to migrate towards greener and more prosperous areas of the UK.


(Translated by Marie-Thérèse Slorach – Email:         

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