Towns and cities in England and Wales are more ethnically diverse and less segregated than ever before, according to a study published today

Researchers analysing census ethnicity data over the last 20 years found more small local areas are home to a large number of ethnic groups living side by side. 

London had the most ‘rainbow’ neighbourhoods, followed by Birmingham, Leicester, Slough, Watford, Luton and Manchester. 

Meanwhile, the number of areas with ‘very high levels of diversity’ rose from 342 (1 per cent) in 2001 to 2,201 in 2021 (6 per cent).

This was partly down to the white British population falling by 1.1million over the last 20 years compared to an increase of 8.7m for other ethnicities.

One data point used by researchers was the Reciprocal Diversity Index (RDI), which looks at how diverse an area is on a scale from zero to 100. This compares the diversity of neighbourhoods in England and Wales in 2001 and 2021 

Nigel Farage was among those to use the 2021 census to claim London, Birmingham and Manchester are now ‘minority white cities’.

He was wrong for London and Manchester, but correct for Birmingham, where 48.6 per cent of residents said they were white. 

However, the study authors argued that the ‘majority-minority’ argument was ‘too blunt’ and that these areas should instead be thought of as ‘ethnically diverse’. 

Study author Dr Gemma Catney, from Queen’s University Belfast, told MailOnline: ‘The problem with the Farage majority-minority claim is it homogenises multiple groups into one in a way that doesn’t have meaning for anybody.

‘During Covid, for example, the government recommended we stop using the term BAME because it lumps people from lots of different ethnicities together. 

‘When it comes to the census, comparing the number of white people to all other minority groups would suggest segregation when we’re actually looking at diversity, with more people than ever living next to someone from a different ethnicity.

‘The census doesn’t have attitudinal data from there. But rather than division and difference this suggests increased mixing, decreased segregation. This has happened at a relatively slow and steady pace for most neighbourhoods.’  

This graph shows the most diverse areas at the top - led by Newham in London

This graph shows the most diverse areas at the top – led by Newham in London 

This table breaks down each area by the different ethnic groups that live there

This table breaks down each area by the different ethnic groups that live there 

Luton, Birmingham and Leicester were also high on the list of England and Wales' most diverse areas

Luton, Birmingham and Leicester were also high on the list of England and Wales’ most diverse areas 

Dr Catney suggested people were gradually becoming more tolerant.

The study, published in the Royal Geographical Society’s Geographical Journal, broke down the census data into 36,000 areas of around 1,600 people before looking at how many different ethnicities were represented there. 

It found local diversity more than doubled between 2001 and 2021, with dramatic increases in some places. There was a ninefold increase in diversity in Barking and Dagenham and a near tenfold increase in Boston, Lincolnshire – albeit from a low base. 

In Newham, 6% share of the population are of Bangladeshi heritage, followed by white British (15%), other white (15%), black African (12%) and Indian (11%). People from other ethnic groups made up the remaining third of Newham’s population.

In Slough (the sixth most diverse district), the top four ethnic groups were white British (24%), Pakistani (22%), Indian (19%) and other white (11%). 

And in Manchester the largest ethnic groups were white British (49%), Pakistani (12%), black African (9%) and other white (6%).

The last census was carried out on March 21, 2021 and filled out by more than 24 million households across England and Wales. 

The London Borough of Newham was named as the most diverse neighbourhood in England and Wales

The London Borough of Newham was named as the most diverse neighbourhood in England and Wales 

Birmingham also featured high on the list. Pictured is a view of the city, including the Bullring shopping centre

Birmingham also featured high on the list. Pictured is a view of the city, including the Bullring shopping centre 



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