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Census 2021 deep dive: ethnicity and deprivation in London

Author: Marc Brazzill

The Census 2021 provides us with the most comprehensive and up to date picture of London’s population. Over the coming months, we’ll be publishing a selection of interactive maps that explore what the data shows us about London’s populations and deprivation. In this piece, Marc Brazzill, data insights analyst at WPI Economics, outlines how you can use the first map in the series to look at the links between ethnicity and deprivation.

The census showed us that London continues to be the most ethnically diverse region in the UK. In total, 287 ethnic groups and nationalities are represented in the census, which provides us with a more accurate picture of the capital’s ethnic make-up than ever before.

London's ethnic diversity

Although London as a whole is the most ethnically diverse region of the UK, the extent of ethnic diversity across London boroughs varies significantly. Ten of London’s 33 boroughs have a majority non-white population. In Newham, London’s most diverse borough, 69.2% of people are non-white. In Brent, Redbridge, Harrow and Tower Hamlets, the figure is also above 60%. At the other end of the spectrum, less than a quarter of the population in Richmond upon Thames (19.5%), Bromley (23.5%) and Havering (24.7%) is non-white.

Using the interactive census map, you can explore the diversity of the city to discover in which boroughs and neighbourhoods different ethnic communities are located. For example, if we look at the broad category of Asian and Asian British people, we can see that there are large communities in East London – such as Redbridge (where 47.3% of people are Asian or Asian British)– and West London – such as Harrow (45.2%). By zooming in on more specific ethnic groups, we can see that the communities in these boroughs are quite different. Let’s take London’s largest Asian ethnic groups - (British) Indian, (British) Bangladeshi and (British) Pakistani as an example.

We can see that the (British) Indian community in London is concentrated most strongly in West London - in Harrow, for example, 28.8% of the population identifies as Indian or British Indian. There are also noticeable communities in East London, such as Redbridge and Newham. By contrast, the (British) Bangladeshi community in London is concentrated in fewer areas, exclusively in boroughs in East London. In Tower Hamlets, 34.7% of the population identifies as Bangladeshi or British Bangladeshi – the highest proportion of a population in a London Borough of any single ethnic minority group.

Although they make up a similar proportion of London’s overall population as (British) Bangladeshis, the (British) Pakistani community is spread out over a much wider range of London boroughs. Just two boroughs – Redbridge (14.2%) and Waltham Forest (10.4%) – have a population of more than 10% identifying as Pakistani or British Pakistani. However, there are 12 boroughs whose population is greater than 3% (British) Pakistani compared to just 7 boroughs with greater than 3% (British) Bangladeshi population.

We can also zoom in to see which neighbourhoods different communities live in. This is especially useful for ethnic groups that make up only a small percentage of London’s or individual borough’s total population. For example, the Japanese community makes up only 0.2% of London’s population, but using the explorer we can see that there is a significant Japanese population concentrated in Ealing. Three neighbourhoods – Acton Noel Road and Lynton Road (8.6%), Ealing Broadway East (8.1%) and North Ealing (6.6%) have more than 5% of their population identifying as Japanese and 5 other adjacent neighbourhoods have more than 1%.

What is the relationship between ethnicity and deprivation?

The interactive census map also shows the level of deprivation of each neighbourhood in London. Combining this with the ethnic group populations in each neighbourhood allows us to see which ethnic groups are more likely to live in deprived areas.

For example, taking broad categories of ethnic groups we can see that there is a clear correlation between neighbourhoods with higher proportions of Black African Londoners and neighbourhoods that are more deprived. None of London’s 10% least deprived neighbourhoods have a Black African population of higher than 5% - but all of London’s most deprived boroughs, bar one, do.

Looking at the broad category of Asian British as we did before, there doesn’t seem to be any correlation. However,if we zoom in on the Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets - the borough where they are most concentrated - we see a clear trend where the higher the proportion of people identifying as Bangladeshi, the more deprived the neighbourhood is likely to be. In the four least deprived neighbourhoods in Tower Hamlets Bangladeshis constitute 15.6% of the population; however, in the four most deprived neighbourhoods they account for 47.8%.

By contrast if we look at the Indian community in Harrow - again the borough where they are most concentrated - we see first of all that there are no neighbourhoods among the 40% most deprived neighbourhoods in London. We can also see that the clear trend we saw for Bangladeshis in Tower Hamlets between the size of population and deprivation is not present for Indians in Harrow. In fact, there may be a slight negative trend, i.e. neighbourhoods with more Indians are less likely to be deprived. Indians constitute 32.9% of the population in the four least deprived neighbourhoods in Harrow, but 23.1% in the three most deprived neighbourhoods.

We can also use the map to see inequalities across boroughs. In Bromley, for example - one of London’s least deprived and least diverse boroughs - there are only four neighbourhoods in the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods in London. These four neighbourhoods are four of the five neighbourhoods in Bromley with the highest proportion of residents with Black African backgrounds.

This interactive census map is our first in a series of deep-dives into data from the 2021 Census. It has a wealth of data to explore, with every ethnicity and nationality represented in London mapped against the neighbourhoods they can be found in, and the level of deprivation in those neighbourhoods.