1 in 6 households in Scotland are of mixed ethnicity

New research on the Scottish census data shows that 1 in 6 of Scotland’s households of two or more people are multi-ethnic. Ethnic diversity is increasing throughout Scottish society, as immigrants have settled in new areas, and the mix of ethnic groups has grown.

A comparison of recent censuses in Scotland by the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (co-hosted by the Universities of Manchester and Glasgow) reveals the growing ethnic diversity of the country, but also the extent to which that diversity has spread.

BBC News: Scotland ' becoming more ethnically diverse'

The research finds:

  • Scotland’s ethnic minorities – all those who identify their ethnic group as other than ‘white Scottish’ – have grown in size and, by 2011, numbered 850,000 or 16% of Scotland’s residents.
  • The largest minority is ‘White: Other British’ numbering 417,000 in 2011, an increase of 10% over the decade. About three quarters of this group were born in England.
  • Other minority groups have seen considerable increases in size, including the African, Chinese, Pakistani and Indian populations.
  • The population of some minority groups have increased significantly faster in Scotland than in England, but from a much lower starting point: this is case with the African, Indian and Caribbean populations, for example (see, for comparison, the briefing on England and Wales: How Has Ethnic Diversity Grown, 1991-2001-2011 at http://www.ethnicity.ac.uk/).
  • Minority populations are dispersed across Scotland and have tended to grow faster outside of those areas in which they were most likely to be resident in 2001.
  • Scotland’s diversity has increased both overall and in every local authority. Every ward in both Edinburgh and Glasgow has seen an increase in diversity.

Dr. Andrew Smith, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Glasgow said: “What our research in the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity reveals is a picture of growing diversity within Scotland, and of diversity spread across different areas of the country. The presence of the large ‘Other British’ minority reminds us that ethnicity is not a matter of colour, but might be used to describe different aspects of our background and sense of who we are. What the analysis also reveals is that Scotland’s growing diversity is not producing ‘polarised islands of different groups’ but a ‘mosaic of differently mixed areas.”

This briefing is part of a series prepared by the University of Manchester with support from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and as part of the work of the ESRC funded research Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity.

Find out more

Dr Andrew Smith, Senior Lecturer

School of Social and Political Sciences

College of Social Sciences

For more information, contact cara.macdowall@glasgow.ac.uk 0141 330 3683. 

The analysis is set out in a briefing document produced by Prof. Ludi Simpson, as part of a series prepared at the Universities of Glasgow and Manchester with support from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and as part of the work of the ESRC funded research Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has a continuing programme of research in Scotland analysing the links between employment, poverty and ethnicity.

The briefing is available at: http://www.ethnicity.ac.uk/  This site also has a range of other briefings, including comparable ones for England and Wales.

The Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.



First published: 27 May 2014

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