‘White flight’ plus immigration always add up to segregation

This report on White Flight by Alasdair Palmer & Karyn Miller was first published in the Daily Telegraph on 8th October 2006 (to read original source, click here - all emphasis on this page has been added). Nearly twelve years have now elapsed since that time, and the mass-influx of non-white migrants into our country, towns and cities continues unabated...

The call to prayer from the muezzin wafts down the streets five times a
day. Nearly all of the women are veiled in public. It is not easy to buy
alcohol or find an open pub. And, as one resident says: “You can walk
all the way to the shops – you won’t see any whites.”

But this isn’t an exotic city in South Asia or the Middle East. This is
Bradford. The old Victorian city has profoundly segregated
neighbourhoods: areas separated not simply by wealth but by ethnicity,
culture and religion.

Profound segregation along those lines could be the future for many of
our cities.

Graham Gudgin, of the consultants Regional Forecast, has calculated
what that level of migration means for the future of Britain’s cities. He
examined the population and complexion of the UK’s 37 largest cities.

To his surprise, he discovered that, after years of shrinking, many of
Britain’s towns are now increasing in size.

Yet the exodus of middle-class families that was responsible for many
cities falling in population has not ceased or even slowed. It is simply
that the rate of immigration from outside Britain has increased fast
enough to compensate.

Migrants from developing countries typically have more children than
indigenous Britons: they marry younger and start families earlier.

In 2001, the Institute for Economic and Social Research revealed that
the birth rate among Bangladeshi teenagers, for example, was 75 per
1,000, compared with 29 births per 1,000 white teenagers of British parentage. The Bangladeshi girls were almost all married and would go
on to have many more children, while most of the white teenagers
would not.

In the London borough of Newham, where a very high proportion of the
population is from South Asia, the average woman will have 2.5
children. The average number of children for women in Britain as a
whole is 1.8. Where wealth goes up, birth rates go down.

The exodus of wealthier whites and influx of poorer migrants with higher
birth rates means many of Britain’s towns and cities may soon have
majority populations made up of recent migrants. Indeed, Mr Gudgin’s
model predicts that many of them will soon be completely dominated by
new arrivals.

He has calculated what happens, on present trends, to the population of
a hypothetical British city that starts with immigrants making up just one
per cent of the population.

It takes, he notes, “45 years for that population to reach a proportion of
20 per cent of the total”. That, he says, is approximately the number of
years it took for the proportion of migrants to reach 20 per cent in the
British cities where it has actually done so.

It takes a further 20 years for the ethnic share of the population to
double to 40 per cent – the level achieved in London in 2001. But then
the ethnic proportion increases very rapidly, taking a further 12 years to
reach 60 per cent and just another five years to reach 100 per cent.

“Obviously,” says Mr Gudgin, “our cities are not going to be 100 per
cent ethnic in the near future, or probably ever. We have to assume that
migration policy and behaviour will change long before that point is
reached. The model simply shows what would happen if migration
policy and behaviour continued at the same rate as it is today.”

The assumption that policy will change to alter the rate of migration long
before any of Britain’s cities become “100 per cent made up of recent
migrants from other ethnicities” is surely correct. Yet the expectation is
that immigration will increase, rather than diminish, over the next

Mr Gudgin explains his projection’s rapid increase in the ethnic
proportion not just as the result of immigration itself but as the result of
its combination with “white flight” from cities.

The indigenous Britons who leave are those who have the opportunity
to do so, which usually means they have the economic resources to be able to move house. They are usually middle-class rather than working-
class, and often people who own their homes.

Does this mean that the middle classes want to be segregated from
ethnic minority migrants, and will move to ensure that they live in white
neighbourhoods: that they are, in a word, “racist”?

That is the allegation normally thrown at working-class inhabitants of
inner cities: the people who are “left behind”, who complain about “their”
neighbourhoods being “swamped by immigrants”, and who say that
“immigrants are claiming too many benefits and are allowed to jump the
queue for council housing”.

The depressing conclusion – that the middle classes are, despite the
rhetoric of inclusiveness, no more welcoming or inclusive than some of
their working-class compatriots – might turn out to be correct.

Extreme segregation is found in many American cities, where blacks
and whites are often separated in different residential enclaves. Is it the
future for some British towns?

Are we, in the words of Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission
for Racial Equality, “sleepwalking towards segregation”?

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