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The racial and religious diversity that is defining a nation

The UK Newspaper "The Independent" reported on Friday 6th October 2006 that the most detailed map of ethnic and religious diversity in Britain has been published, showing where different groups live - and how Muslim minorities in particular are at a disadvantage.

Analysis by the Office for National Statistics - ONS (www.statistics.gov.uk) of the 2001 census figures shows that the north-west London borough of Brent is the most ethnically diverse area in England and Wales. Ethnographers devised a "diversity index" - based on the probability that any two people chosen at random from a particular area would be from different ethnic groups, even if neither of them were white.

In Brent, the chance of doing so was 85 per cent. Just 29 per cent of residents are white British, with Indians, black Caribbeans and black Africans all heavily represented. That compares to Easington in Co Durham, where there is a 2 per cent chance, making it the least diverse place in the country. On average, two people bumping into each other in the street stand a 23 per cent chance of having different ethnic backgrounds. In some areas, more than 70 per cent of residents are from an ethnic minority.

The 2001 census was the first in the history of the UK census whereby the 2001 survey asked people to state their religion as part of an effort to get a more detailed demographic picture of the world peoplelive in.

Using the same diversity index calculations, the Office for National Statistics - ONS found that the London borough of Harrow was the most religiously diverse, with a more than 60 per cent chance that someone standing next to you will not share the same faith. Mapping also showed that people from the same religions and ethnic groups moved to the same areas. Indian Hindus tended to live in different regions from Indian Sikhs. In some areas, such as Leicester, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester, three-quarters of the population are non-white and non-Christian, despite the fact that this ethno-religious group accounts for 70 per cent of England and Wales as a whole.

England and Wales ethnicity:

  • There are more than 60,000 white Britons who are Muslims
  • White Britons make up 88.2 per cent of the population of England and Wales
  • Muslims make up three per cent of the population. After Christianity Islam is the second biggest religion.
  • The Indian population is the largest non white ethnic group in England and Wales accounting for 1.8 per cent.
  • Parkistani Muslims are the biggest non white ethno-religious group
  • 14 per cent of Britons say that they have no religion and 71.8 per cent descrive themselves as Christian

Detailed analysis of ethnic minorities also shows how many are now second, third or fourth generation immigrants. More than half (57 per cent) of black Caribbeans were born in the UK, alongside 55 per cent of Pakistanis, 46 per cent of Bangladeshis and 45 per cent of Indians. The report also shows how, outside major cities, many areas remain predominantly white British.

Seven per cent of local authority areas are classed as being "highly ethnically diverse" - based on the idea that there is a more than 50 per cent chance that two random people will be from different backgrounds. Fewer - 3 per cent - are classed as being highly religiously diverse, on the same calculation.

Black African Muslim men suffer most from the deprivation gap, with rates of unemployment three times higher than white British men. The new data shows that black African Muslims are also twice as likely as Indian Muslims to be unemployed. In turn, Indian Muslims are far more likely to be jobless than Sikhs or Hindus, suggesting that it is religion, rather than race, that is key.

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