Chinese ethnic group: facts and figures

Published 27 January 2020

1. About this page

This is a summary of statistics about people from the Chinese ethnic group (also referred to here as ‘Chinese people’) living in England and Wales.

It is part of a series of summaries about different ethnic groups.

This summary includes:

  • some population statistics from the most recent Census (2011)
  • data on the experiences of people from the Chinese ethnic group in areas including education, work and income, crime and policing, housing and health including mental health

This is an overview based on a selection of data published on Ethnicity facts and figures or being published soon.

Some published data (for example, on higher education) is only available for the Asian ethnic group as a whole. Other data (for example, on employment) includes the figures for the Chinese ethnic group only as part of the Asian Other or Other ethnic group.

2. Population

All data in this section comes from the 2011 Census of England and Wales, unless stated otherwise.

In 2011, there were 393,141 people from the Chinese ethnic group in England and Wales, making up 0.7% of the total population. This was a 0.3 percentage point increase from 2001.

2.1 Where Chinese people live

There were 348 local authorities in England and Wales at the time of the 2011 Census. Just over a quarter (26.1%) of the Chinese population lived in 13 of them.

Manchester was home to the largest Chinese population, with 3.4% of all Chinese people living there. This was followed by Birmingham (3.2%) and Barnet, Tower Hamlets and Southwark (all at 2.1%).

Figure 1: Percentage of the Chinese population of England and Wales living in each local authority area (top 13 areas labelled)

A map showing that people from the Chinese ethnic group are clustered in urban areas in London, the Midlands and the North.

Source: Census of England and Wales, 2011

Table 1: Percentage of the Chinese population of England and Wales living in each local authority area (top 13)

Local authority Number of Chinese residents Percentage of Chinese people living there
Manchester 13,539 3.4%
Birmingham 12,712 3.2%
Barnet 8,259 2.1%
Tower Hamlets 8,109 2.1%
Southwark 8,074 2.1%
Liverpool 7,978 2.0%
Sheffield 7,398 1.9%
Camden 6,493 1.7%
Lewisham 6,164 1.6%
Newcastle upon Tyne 6,037 1.5%
Nottingham 5,988 1.5%
Leeds 5,933 1.5%
Westminster 5,917 1.5%

23.7% of people from the Chinese ethnic group were born in the UK, the second lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups. Over half (55.3%) were born in Eastern Asia and 13.4% were born in South-East Asia.

59 local authorities had fewer than 200 Chinese residents living there. This is around 1 in 6 of all local authorities.

9.7% of Chinese people lived in the most deprived 10% of neighbourhoods, compared with 8.6% of White British people. (England, 2012/13)

2.2 Age profile

The Chinese ethnic group had a younger age profile than the White British group in 2011.

47.2% of Chinese people were aged 18 to 34 years old compared with 20.3% of White British people. This was the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups for these combined age groups.

25.2% of Chinese people were 18 to 24 years old – the highest percentage of Chinese people out of all age groups. The second highest percentage was in the 25 to 29 age group (12.2%). The younger age profile of the Chinese group could reflect the high proportion of students aged 16 and over within the Chinese population and this group migrating to the UK (ONS, 2013).

82.1% of people from the Chinese ethnic group were of working age (16 to 64 years old), the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups. In comparison, 63.7% of White British people were of working age.

8.0% of Chinese people were aged 60 and above compared with 25.6% of White British people.

Figure 2: Age profile comparison for Chinese and White British ethnic groups

A chart showing that the Chinese ethnic group has a younger age profile than the White British ethnic group, with a much higher percentage of 18 to 34 year olds.

Source: Census of England and Wales, 2011

2.3 Families and households

4.5% of Chinese households were made up of lone parents with dependent children, compared with 6.7% of White British households.

17.4% of Chinese households were made up of married couples with dependent children, compared with 14.1% of White British households.

5.3% of Chinese households were made up of pensioners (either couples or single pensioners), compared with 23.0% of White British households.

7.5% of Chinese households were made up of all full-time students, compared with 0.4% of White British households. This was the highest percentage out of all Asian ethnic groups.

3. Education

Data in this section covers England for the academic year ending July 2019 unless stated otherwise.

From primary education (key stages 1 and 2) to GCSEs (key stage 4), Chinese pupils had the highest level of attainment out of all ethnic groups.

Figure 3: Educational attainment among Chinese and White British pupils

A chart showing that pupils from the Chinese ethnic group perform better than White British pupils at every key stage, with the difference getting bigger as pupils get older.

Source: Department for Education, England. Key stage 2 statistics 2018/19; Key stage 4 statistics, 207/18; A level and other 16 to 18 results, 2017/18. Figures for key stage 2 are rounded to whole numbers by DFE. ‘Primary education’ shows figures for key stage 2 reading, writing and maths, which pupils take when they are 10 or 11 years old.

3.1 Early years

76% of pupils from the Chinese ethnic group met the expected standard in development across all early learning goals. This was the second highest percentage out of all ethnic groups, after the Indian ethnic group (78%).

3.2 Primary education

For key stage 2 reading, writing and maths, pupils from the Chinese ethnic group were the highest achieving group at the expected and higher standards. 80% met the expected standard and 28% met the higher standard.

3.3 GCSE English and maths

Data in this section covers England for the academic year ending July 2018

75.3% of pupils from the Chinese ethnic group got a ‘strong pass’ (grade 5 or above) in English and maths GCSE. This was the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups.

Among pupils eligible for free school meals, those from the Chinese ethnic group were most likely out of all ethnic groups to get a strong pass (at 67.3%).

Among pupils with special education needs, those from the Chinese ethnic group were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to get a strong pass (34.6%).

3.4 Further education

97% of students from the Chinese ethnic group went into further education (such as A levels). This was the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups. (England, 2016 to 2017)

22.5% of students from the Chinese ethnic group got at least 3 A grades at A level. This was the highest percentage of the 6 aggregated ethnic groups. (England, academic year ending July 2018)

84% of students from the Chinese ethnic group stayed in education after key stage 5. This was the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups. (England, 2016 to 2017)

3.5 School exclusions

Pupils from the Chinese ethnic group had the lowest rate of temporary exclusion out of all ethnic groups, at 0.5% (equivalent to 50 exclusions per 10,000 pupils). (England, academic year ending July 2018)

3.6 Higher education

Pupils from the Chinese ethnic group had the highest entry rate into higher education every year between 2006 and 2018 out of all ethnic groups. In 2018, 66.3% of Chinese 18 year olds went into higher education.

Figure 4: Percentage of state school pupils aged 18 getting a higher education place

A chart showing that pupils from the Chinese ethnic group had by far the highest entry rate into higher education every year between 2006 and 2018.

Source: UCAS End Of Cycle Report 2018

4. Work and income

Data in this section covers England, Wales and Scotland in 2018, unless stated otherwise.

4.1 Young people not in employment, education or training

6.2% of 16 to 24 year olds from the Chinese ethnic group were not in employment, education or training. This was lower than the UK average (12.8%).

4.2 Graduate work and pay

5 years after graduating, 72.7% of Chinese graduates were in sustained education or employment, the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups. However, the destinations of 21.8% of Chinese graduates were not captured (higher than any other ethnic group).

On average, Chinese graduates were earning £28,100 a year 5 years after graduating, compared with a national average of £26,000. (England, 2016 to 2017)

4.3 Socio-economic groups

Data in this section covers England and Wales in 2011.

12.8% of people from the Chinese ethnic group were in ‘higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations’. This was the second highest percentage out of all ethnic groups after the Indian group (15.4%). Altogether, just over a quarter (26.2%) of people from the Chinese ethnic group were in the 2 ‘managerial and professional’ groups, compared with a national average of 30.4%.

33.3% of people from the Chinese ethnic group were full-time students, the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups.

4.4 Household income

Data in this section covers the UK for the 3 financial years to March 2018 combined.

38% of Chinese households had a total income of £34,700 a year or more (before housing costs were deducted), putting them in the 2 highest income groups. This was a higher percentage than the average for all Asian households (29%).

Figure 5: Income distribution among Chinese, White British and all Asian (including Chinese) households

A chart showing that the percentage of Chinese households in the top 2 income groups was about the same as for White British households, but higher than for Asian households as a whole.

Source: Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Households below average income: 1994/95 to 2017/18. Please note: Values are given to the nearest whole percentage. Due to this rounding, some figures may not add up to 100%.

29% of Chinese households had a weekly income of £1,000 or more, the third highest percentage out of all ethnic groups. 42% of Indian households and 31% of White Other households had a weekly income of £1,000 or more.

4.5 Civil Service workforce and pay

Data for this section is for 2019 and covers UK and overseas staff.

Chinese staff made up 0.3% of civil servants, while Chinese people made up 0.9% of the working age population of England and Wales at the time of the 2011 Census.

Between 2015 and 2019, there was no change in the percentage of civil servants from the Chinese ethnic group, although there were slight increases for other ethnic minority groups (Black, Asian and Mixed ethnic groups).

Chinese civil servants’ average (median) pay increased by 11% between 2015 and 2019, from £26,600 to £29,500. This was the second highest increase in pay out of all ethnic groups. Pay for civil servants with Mixed ethnicity increased by 12%.

5. Crime and policing

Data in this section covers England and Wales in the financial year ending March 2019, unless stated otherwise.

There was 1 stop and search per 1,000 Chinese people, the lowest rate out of all ethnic groups.

Rates of stop and search differed depending on the police force area. National rates should be used with caution. For example, in the Metropolitan and Wiltshire police force areas, there were 3 stop and searches for every 1,000 Chinese people, while in the Gwent police force area there were 10 stop and searches for every 1,000 Chinese people.

5.2 Fear of crime and confidence in the police

16% of Chinese people aged 16 and over thought they were likely to be a victim of crime in the next year. This was broadly similar to the national average (19%). (Financial year ending March 2016)

87% of Chinese people aged 16 and over said that they had confidence in their local police. The national average was 75%.

5.3 Victims of crime

14% of Chinese people aged 16 and over said they were a victim of crime in the previous 12 months. This was broadly similar to the national average (15%).

6. Home ownership and renting

Data in this section covers England in 2016/17 and 2017/18 combined, unless stated otherwise.

45% of Chinese households were homeowners, compared with 68% of White British households.

10% of Chinese households lived in social housing, compared with 16% of White British households.

45% of Chinese households rented privately, compared with 16% of White British households.

19% of Chinese homeowner households received financial support from family to buy a home, one of the highest percentages out of all ethnic groups. (England, 2015/16 and 2016/17 combined)

7. Health

Data in this section covers England for 2017 to 2018.

7.1 Mental health

Chinese people had the lowest rate of detention under the Mental Health Act out of all ethnic groups, at 46 detentions per 100,000 people.

Chinese adults were the least likely to use mental health and learning disability services out of all ethnic groups where the data was reliable. Just over 1,500 adults per 100,000 of the Chinese population did so. (England, 2014 to 2015)

7.2 Diet and exercise

34.5% of adults from the Chinese ethnic group were overweight or obese, the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups.

30.1% of 10 to 11 year olds were overweight, the second lowest out of all ethnic groups after the Mixed White and Asian group (29.7%).

Help us improve this content

Answer 4 short questions to help us improve this content.