‘White flight’ from London?


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A comment with new analysis on an Financial Times article talking about the possibility of White Flight from London revealed by the 2011 UK Census results.

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‘White flight’ from London?

  1. 1. ‘White Flight’ from London?(from http://www.social-statistics.org/?p=864)One of the interesting results from the 2011 Census is that London no longer containsa majority White British residential population, now having only 44.9% of itspopulation classified as White British. That is a 14.9 percentage point decrease fromthe 59.8% of 2001. Of the 10 Government Regions in England and Wales, London isthe only one not to be majority White British. Indeed, it is the only one to be less than75% White British (the West Midlands comes next at 79.2% White British).The map below gives some idea of how different London is. It is not the only regionto contain local authorities that are not majority White British. Neither is it the casethat all authorities within London are so. However, 70% of the London Boroughs arenot majority White British. The only other local authorities that are not majorityWhite British are Leicester in the East Midlands, Luton in the East, and Slough in theSouth East. London is unusual. Figure 1. The proportion of the population that are classified as White British in the 2011 Census by local authoritiesThe change has led some to speculate that there has been ‘white flight’ from London(see article in the Financial Times, http://on.ft.com/XQekN4). Certainly we observe astark pattern if we map the local authorities in and around London and classify themaccording to whether their White British population in 2011 is greater or less than it
  2. 2. was in 2001 in terms of the actual number of people living there. London and all thesurrounding counties except Kent and Essex have fewer White British people livingin them by 2011. An outer ring of counties has seen its White British population grow(but only in absolute terms; in all cases the proportion of the population that is WhiteBritish has shrunk). Figure 2. Showing the places in and around London where the (absolute) number of White British residents has increased or decreased.The nature of the change can also be witnessed by calculating the index ofunevenness (see http://www.social-statistics.org/?p=847) for each of the main ethnicgroups. The index gives the proportion of the group that would have to move fromone local authority to another to create an even distribution of the group across theregion shown in the map. It is a measure of clustering. However, the index does notconsider how far people from the group would have to travel to create an evendistribution. The index of redistribution does do that – it is how far, in kilometres, anaverage person from the group would have to travel to create an even distributionacross the study region. Both indices are shown in Table 1.
  3. 3. Ethnic group Unevenness Index Change from 2001 Redistribution Index Change from 2001White 0.14 +0.04 8.49 +2.74Indian 0.42 -0.06 22.8 -3.61Pakistani 0.51 -0.01 23.1 -1.04Bangladeshi 0.58 -0.03 29.4 -3.19Black African 0.45 -0.13 26.5 -7.73Black Caribbean 0.51 -0.06 28.8 -2.52 Table 1. Indices of unevenness and redistribution and their change from 2001.From the index values we find that the White British population is the least unevenlydistributed. That is hardly surprising given that is the most dominant group and giventhe clear spatial clustering of the other ethnic groups (see http://www.social-statistics.org/?p=836). However, it is also the only one of the six ethnic groupsbecoming more unevenly distributed; because of the shift of the population to theouter regions further away from London (but also because if its decreased share of thetotal population). In 2001 the local authorities shaded dark green in the map contained51% of the White British population in the study region. By 2011 the percentage hadrisen to 54%.What also is notable is that the greatest decreases in the White British population tendto occur in those local authorities that already had the lowest proportions of the groupin 2001 (where the decrease is measured as a proportional change relative to the 2001White British population). In other words, there has been a greater reduction in theWhite British population in those places that the group were already less dominant.This is shown below.So is what we are seeing ‘white flight’?Well, I’m not sure I’d describe it in such potentially emotive terms but it’s hard toescape the conclusion that there has been a redistribution of the White Britishpopulation away from London. Quite what the reasons for that might be remain to bediscovered.(c) Richard Harris, 2013. The calculations and analysis are presented in good faith butno liability is accepted as a consequence of any unintended errors or mistakes.Updated Jan. 12th.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/deed.en_US for terms and conditions.
  4. 4. Figure 2. Showing the proportional change in the White British population (2011 – 2001) for local authorities in the study region and how that relates to their White British population in 2001.