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Facts and figures about ethnic difference & inequality in the UK


Why CoDE?

In the context of ongoing policy concern and academic debate around issues of ethnic diversity, integration, immigration and inequality, the core agenda of CoDE is to transform our understanding of the contemporary patterning of ethnic inequalities, to investigate how this relates to the ways in which ethnic identities are perceived, acted upon and experienced, and to provide the knowledge and tools to enhance policy and public capacity to engage in this area.


Our specific objectives are to:

  1. Use empirical evidence to inform our understanding of social change and its drivers in relation to: a) The meaning and significance of ethnicity and ethnic identities; b) Absolute, relative and within-category experiences in key social realms (education, employment, mobility, health and wellbeing, racism, civic behaviour and attitudes).
  2. Examine the contemporary patterning of ethnic inequalities and how this has unfolded over time.
  3. Make the evidence we produce and the data used to generate that evidence accessible to both policy and research communities, as well as to the broader public.
  4. Increase the capacity of the social science community to engage in this challenging empirical work using interdisciplinary, mixed-method and comparative approaches.

To address these objectives we will:

  1. Profile changes in the ethnic composition of the population, paying attention to categories emerging as a result of more recent migration and changing conceptualisations of ethnicity.
  2. Conduct descriptive analyses of changes over time in key social realms.
  3. Identify differences and similarities across generations and periods, and how these relate to migration and period contexts (for example, an economic downturn), and the importance of experiences at particular points in the life-course (for example, education).
  4. Explain changes in outcomes across and within groups over time in relation to:
    a. Social mobility (intra- and inter-generational);
    b. Geographical mobility;
    c. Wellbeing and health;
    d. Identities and experience of racism; and
    e. Civic behaviour and attitudes.
  5. Engage in an extensive knowledge exchange programme.

Current and future dynamics of ethnic relations:

In order to understand current and future dynamics of ethnic relations, we need both to examine current data and to understand how and why the patterning of ethnic inequality has changed over time, in relation to changing patterns of migration to the UK, underlying economic and political contexts, and social dynamics. To do this CoDE will bring together an interdisciplinary team using quantitative and qualitative approaches to understand how ideas of, and responses to, ethnicity have changed and what impact this has on contemporary ethnic identities and inequalities. This will provide the empirical foundations for innovations in both theory and policy. The value of the work will result from the research team’s ability to bring together data from across disciplines, across topics and over time, in a usable form in order to enable a careful and methodologically innovative interrogation of this information through:

The quantity and quality of survey data collected on ethnicity has increased and improved over time, providing a unique opportunity to address these issues. We will examine data that have been collected since the 1950s in the UK in order to understand changes in the ethnic make-up of the population, the dynamics of ethnic inequality and identity over this period and the factors that may be driving these changes. We will then relate this to analyses of contemporary data and analyses of the pattern and drivers of change at an individual level using newly available data from surveys that interview the same individual repeatedly over time. In addition, we will conduct studies in four selected localities (Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff and the London Borough of Newham) to obtain in-depth accounts of changes in the experience of ethnic identities, the ethnic composition of the local population, the patterning of inequalities, and how these relate to the questions of generation, age and period we have described above. These areas have been identified for in-depth study because we have access to relevant data for them and because there are important differences between them in their histories, socioeconomic profiles, patterns of migration, ethnic make-up and national context.

In doing this CoDE will:

  1. Conduct secondary analysis of a wide range of contemporary and historic survey and census data sources;
  2. Carry out historical analysis of key social, economic and political events since the 1950s;
  3. Conduct four comparative locality studies in Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff and Newham London, involving:
    a. Analysis of local survey and census data;
    b. Cataloguing and analysis of archived material;
    c. Interviews and focus groups with key informants and local residents;
    d. Simultaneous geographical mapping of the different forms of data we generate using Graphical Information Systems.
  4. Make the data we generate and methods we use accessible to both research and policy analysts.

This project will, consequently, address questions that are central to policy and academic understandings of ethnic inequalities and the dynamics of ethnic identity, such as:

  1. How have the experiences of migrant generations changed over time and as they have grown older?
  2. To what extent are these experiences different between migrants and second and third generations?
  3. How have these processes operated across different ethnic groups, including in relation to factors such as gender and socioeconomic position?
  4. How do experiences and perceptions of ethnic identities unfold over the life-course?
  5. In what ways has the patterning of ethnic inequalities and the social and cultural meaning of ethnic identities changed over time and place, in relation to economic context, migration policies, political context, legislation in relation to race equality, and social change?
  6. How do we understand this in relation to changes in the meaning of particular ‘ethnic’ categories (such as Irish or Muslim) and the emergence of new categories (such as mixed and Polish)?

Our findings will be communicated directly to relevant policy and advocacy organisations through a combination of electronic (interactive web pages, blogs, twitter), novel (political conference participation, summer schools for GCSE students, museum exhibitions) and more traditional (newsletters, conferences, seminars, policy forums academic papers) forms of dissemination.

List of CoDE team members here. See also CoDE related census briefings page.

Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE)
The University of Manchester
Oxford Road, Manchester
M13 9PL, UK