The Changing Geographies of Ethnic Diversity in England and Wales, 1991–2011

Gemma Catney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


While ethnic diversity is traditionally an urban characteristic, new spaces of diversity are emerging. This challenges our current understandings of the geographies of ethnic diversity and forces us to consider the more intricate spatial patterns and processes of ethnic group population change. Ethnic diversity, now a key feature of contemporary society in Britain, is an issue of public, policy, political, and academic interest; the 2011 Census provided an opportunity to update our knowledge of how diversity has grown, and in what ways. This paper explores the new geographies of ethnic diversity in England and Wales, mapping the evolving landscape of diversity over two decades. The paper makes use of measures of diversity and clustering for small areas (wards) for consistent geographies for 1991–2011, and for the most recent decade using a district level urban–rural area classification. There is evidence of a spreading out of ethnic diversity from urban centres towards areas traditionally less diverse. Spatial mixing has increased – the period also saw a growth of minority ethnic groups in areas outside own-group clusters. The increased share of all ethnic groups (White British and minority) in less urban areas challenges claims of ‘White flight’ from diversity. Increased ethnic diversity is clearly an important feature of contemporary population change, and the coming years are likely to see continued mixing between people and within places – and in new locales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)750-765
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Issue number8
Early online date16 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • census
  • diversity
  • England and Wales
  • ethnic group
  • population change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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