Regional ethnic diversity
The main facts and figures show that:
- as at the 2011 Census, the most ethnically diverse region in England and Wales was London, where 40.2% of residents identified with either the Asian, Black, Mixed or Other ethnic group
- out of all regions, London had the smallest percentage of White British people, at 44.9%, and the North East had the highest percentage, at 93.6%
- people from the White ethnic group were more likely to live in the South East than any other region, with 16.2% doing so; people from the Black, Asian, Mixed and Other ethnic groups were more likely to live in London than any other region, with 58.4%, 35.9%, 33.1% and 49.9% doing so respectively
- 81.5% of the general population lived in an urban location, and 18.5% lived in a rural location – the ethnic groups most likely to live in an urban location were Pakistani (99.1%), Bangladeshi (98.7%), and Black African (98.2%)
- Newham in London was the local authority where people from the White ethnic group made up the lowest percentage of the population (at 29.0%); 8 out of the 10 most ethnically diverse local authorities were in London
Things you need to know
The Census is planned and carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) every 10 years in England and Wales. The last Census was held in March 2011. The Census is the only survey to give a detailed picture of the whole population of England and Wales. It makes it possible to compare different parts of the country as all households are asked the same questions within the same time period.
For the 2011 Census, around 25 million pre-addressed questionnaires were posted out to all households using a specially developed national address register. Households could return their questionnaire by post or complete it online. Census employees delivered questionnaires by hand to people living in residential care homes, hospitals, hostels, boarding schools, university halls of residence, mobile home parks, military bases and other communal establishments.
94% of households completed the 2011 Census. Of those, 97% answered the question about ethnicity.
What the data measures
The Census is held in England and Wales every 10 years to collect data on every person living in the country on a specific date.
The census provides the only source of directly comparable statistics for both small areas and minority population groups across England and Wales.
The information the Census provides allows central and local government, health authorities and many other organisations to plan housing, education, health and transport services for years to come.
The ethnic categories used in this data
The Census uses a standard set of ethnic groups to collect and classify ethnicity data.
The 2011 Census used 18 standardised ethnic categories:
Asian / Asian British:
- Any other Asian background
Black / African / Caribbean / Black British:
- Any other Black / African / Caribbean background
Mixed / Multiple ethnic groups:
- Mixed White and Black Caribbean
- Mixed White and Black African
- Mixed White and Asian
- Any other Mixed / Multiple ethnic background, please describe
- English / Welsh / Scottish / Northern Irish / British
- Gypsy or Irish Traveller
- Any other White background, please describe
Other ethnic group:
- Any other ethnic group
Areas of England and Wales by ethnicity
Areas of England and Wales by ethnicity
|Region||Asian||Black||Mixed||White British||White other||Other|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||7.3||1.5||1.6||85.8||3.0||0.8|
This data shows that:
- as at the 2011 Census, the most ethnically diverse region was London, where 40.2% of residents identified as belonging to either the Asian, Black, Mixed or Other ethnic group
- the North East (at 93.6%) and Wales (at 93.2%) were the regions with the highest percentages of the population from the White British group, and London (at 44.9%) was the region with the lowest, followed by the West Midlands (at 79.2%)
- the highest percentages of the population identifying as Asian were in London (at 18.5%) and the West Midlands (at 10.8%), and the lowest were in the South West (at 2.0%) and Wales (at 2.3%)
- the regions with the highest percentages of the Black population were London (13.3%) and the West Midlands (3.3%), and the lowest were the North East (0.5%) and Wales (0.6%)
- London (5.0%) and the West Midlands (2.4%) also had the highest percentage of the population that was of Mixed ethnicity, and the North East (0.9%) and Wales (1.0%) had the lowest
Ethnic groups by area
Ethnic groups by area
|Ethnicity||All||East||East Midlands||London||North East||North West||South East||South West||Wales||West Midlands||Yorkshire and The Humber|
|Mixed White/Black African||100.0||9.3||5.3||39.5||2.1||11.1||13.8||5.2||2.7||5.6||5.6|
|Mixed White/Black Caribbean||100.0||8.7||9.5||28.0||1.4||9.2||10.8||6.0||2.6||16.1||7.8|
This data shows that:
- overall, the combined population of London (14.6%) and the South East (15.4%) made up 30% of the total population of England and Wales as at the 2011 Census; the North East and Wales had the smallest percentages of the population, at 4.6% and 5.5% respectively
- people from the broad White ethnic group were most likely to live in the South East (at 16.2%) and the North West (at 13.2%) out of all regions in England and Wales; however, people from 2 of the 4 specific White ethnic groups (White Irish and Other White) were most likely to live in London, with 33.1% and 41.6% of their populations doing so respectively
- people from all other broad ethnic groups were most likely to live in London, with 58.4% of Black people, 35.9% of Asian people, 33.1% of people with Mixed ethnicity, and 49.9% of people from the Other ethnic group doing so
- after London, people from the Asian and Black ethnic groups were most likely to live in the West Midlands, at 14.3% and 9.8% respectively
- 56.9% of people who identified as Pakistani lived in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands (at 16.8%, 20.1% and 20.2% respectively)
Ethnic groups by type of location (urban or rural)
Percentage of people living in urban locations by ethnicity and area
|Ethnicity||North East||North West||Yorkshire and The Humber||East Midlands||West Midlands||East||London||South East||South West||Wales|
|Mixed White/Black African||91.4||96.9||91.8||88.1||94.0||84.4||99.9||89.8||82.7||83.9|
|Mixed White/Black Caribbean||85.2||96.2||93.3||90.1||95.9||84.9||99.9||88.4||85.3||81.8|
This data shows that:
- overall, 81.5% of the population of England and Wales lived in an urban location as at the 2011 Census, and 18.5% lived in a rural location
- people from Pakistani (99.1%), Bangladeshi (98.7%), and Black African (98.2%) backgrounds were most likely to live in an urban location
- Gypsy or Irish Travellers (24.7%), and people identifying as White British (21.8%) or White Irish (10.0%) were most likely to live in a rural location; outside the White ethnic groups, people from the Mixed White and Asian group were most likely to live in a rural location, at 9.5%
- in every region of England and Wales, people from White ethnic groups were least likely to live in an urban location compared with other ethnic groups, and people from the Asian and Black ethnic groups were most likely to
- in every region of England and Wales, the share of people from White ethnic groups living in an urban location was lower than the share for people from other ethnic groups. People from the Asian and Black ethnic groups had the highest shares.
- the biggest differences were found in the East Midlands, where 96.0% of Asian people and 70.8% of White people lived in urban locations (a difference of 25.2 percentage points), and in Wales, where 91.2% of Black people and 66.2% of White people lived in urban locations (a difference of 25 percentage points)
- the percentage of each ethnic group living in rural and urban locations can differ between regions – for example, 91% of Gypsy or Irish Travellers in the North West lived in urban areas, while 60% in Wales did so
Ethnic diversity by area
Most and least diverse local authorities in England and Wales
|Local authority||% White||Position|
|Herefordshire, County of||98.2||166|
|Redcar and Cleveland||98.5||173|
|Isles of Scilly||98.8||174|
‘Ethnic diversity’ here refers to the percentage of the population that isn't from the White ethnic group in each local authority. Further data on ethnic groups by local authority can be found from either the Office for National Statistics or Nomis.
This data shows that:
- Newham in London was the local authority where people from the White ethnic group made up the lowest percentage of the population (at 29.0%), followed by Brent in London (36.3%) and Harrow in London (42.2%)
- 8 out of the 10 most ethnically diverse local authorities were in London; outside London, Slough was the most ethnically diverse local authority, with White people making up 45.7% of the population
- of the 10 local authorities where people from the White ethnic group made up the highest percentage of the population, 5 were in Wales and the West of England, and 3 were in the North East
- the Isles of Scilly in the South West was the local authority where people from the White ethnic group made up the highest percentage of the population (at 98.8%), followed by Redcar and Cleveland, Flintshire, Blaenau Gwent and Cumbria (all at 98.5%)
All households in England and Wales received a Census questionnaire through the post from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), along with an information leaflet and a pre-paid envelope for return by post.
Households in Wales received both English language and Welsh language questionnaires and information leaflets.
Householders could complete their questionnaire either:
- on paper, and return it by post
- online – each paper questionnaire had a unique internet access code
Responses were uploaded every day onto the questionnaire tracking system throughout the duration of the Census. This meant that households could be contacted if their questionnaire had not been submitted.
Communal establishments like care homes, and special groups (such as travellers), had their questionnaires hand delivered, collected and uploaded by Census employees. Individuals within communal establishments could also complete their questionnaire online.
There were 56 questions in the 2011 Census questionnaire:
- 14 questions were about the household and its accommodation
- 42 questions were for each member of the household
Topics included work, health, national identity, passports, ethnicity, education, second homes, language, religion and marital status.
There was an extra question about the Welsh language for households in Wales.
A census is designed to cover the whole population, but some people or households are inevitably left out by accident. A good census design will recognise this and take account of the error with quality controls.
ONS developed a ‘coverage assessment and adjustment methodology’ which estimates and adjusts Census data for the number of people and households not counted or counted incorrectly.
All the 2011 Census population estimates have been subject to quality assurance using demographic analysis, survey data, qualitative information and administrative data. This ensures that the figures are plausible and that users of Census data can have confidence in the quality and accuracy of the information.
Relative confidence intervals for the population by ethnicity down to local authority level can be found in the ONS archive.
Suppression rules and disclosure control
The ONS uses a number of ways to protect the confidentiality of individuals and households, including:
- record swapping, where small numbers of records are swapped between geographical areas
- restricting the amount of detail shown in published data, particularly at low level geographies like local authorities
Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal place.Quality and methodology information
Further technical information
Type of data
Type of statistic
Office for National Statistics
Publication frequencyEvery 10 years
Purpose of data source
The government uses Census data to develop policies, plan and run public services, and allocate funding. The Census also helps illustrate differences between various groups of the population.
Download the data
This file contains: Measure, local authority: county / unitary (prior to April 2015), Ethnicity, Value, Value type, Ethnicity type, Source, Time, GeographyPopulation by ethnicity and region - Spreadsheet (csv) 39 KB
This file contains: Measure, Ethnicity type, Ethnicity, Region, All usual residents, Population, Value, Value2, Value label1, Value label2, Source, Geography, TimePopulation by ethnicity, region and urban/rural location - Spreadsheet (csv) 42 KB
This file contains: Measure, Ethnicity, Region, Urban/Rural, Value, Source, Time