White people 'a minority by 2027'
By Christopher Hope,
Home Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 1:57am BST 01/09/2007
White people living in the UK's second biggest city are likely to find themselves in a minority in 20 years' time, according to researchers.
A team of demographers from Manchester University has claimed that the number of white people living in Birmingham will be overtaken by the number of those with other ethnic origins by 2027.
The news came as it emerged that 35 towns and cities in Britain have at least one ward which is “minority white”.
And experts have already forecast that Leicester could become the first city in which white people are a minority in four years' time.
Ludi Simpson, a social statistician at Manchester University, said the Pakistani population in Birmingham was likely to double by 2026, but with two-thirds of this increase due to the relatively younger age profile of Pakistanis, rather than increased immigration.
Dr Simpson said: “The overall picture is one of rapid natural growth plus some immigration, mainly of young spouses.
“Birmingham is likely to become a minority white city in 2027, but a diverse one in which the white population remains more than twice the size of the Pakistani population which is predicted to become one fifth of the district's population by then.”
But hopes that different ethnic groups could assimilate into a “common identity” in towns and cities were dismissed by Dr Sullivan as “utopian in quite a dangerous way” and “completely unrealistic”.
He added that the suburbs, rather than town and city centres were the “sites of real tension”.
“Lack of affordable housing, poor environments and anti-social behaviour are the issues, not ethnic composition nor segregation itself,” he said.
Nissa Finney, also from Manchester University, told the Royal Geographical Society's annual conference that 35 towns and cities in Britain had at least one ward which was “minority white”. These included Birmingham, Burnley, Slough, Peterborough, Bolton and Derby, as well as Brent, Tower Hamlets, Ealing and Newham within London.
Miss Finney said the increasing proportion of non-whites in these wards was more linked with “natural population dynamics” like moving areas to be nearer family or friends, than with immigration.
She told the conference: “Clustering is the result of benign and natural population dynamics. There is no evidence of self-segregation or exceptional 'white flight'.”
Last year, Trevor Phillips, the-then chairman of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, said that “tough decisions” will have to be made as some more areas become “plural cities” where no one race holds a majority.
Mr Phillips said: “Events across Europe have shown how segregation breeds mistrust and fracture.
“The benefits of plural cities can be great, but we need to look at the future and act responsibly.”