Internal Migration Propensities and Patterns of London's Ethnic Groups

Internal Migration Propensities and Patterns of London's Ethnic Groups

John Stillwell (University of Leeds, United Kingdom)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-755-8.ch009
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The ethnic dimension of internal migration in Britain below the district scale has been understudied despite its importance for understanding local and community development. Data from the 2001 Census shows that migration propensities by ethnic group and age for London migrants differ considerably from national migration propensities, especially when migrants within London are distinguished from those arriving in or leaving the capital. Whilst disaggregating ward net migration on this basis reveals processes of deconcentration within London, dispersal from outer wards to the rest of the country and net in-migration to inner wards from outside London and from overseas, patterns of net movement vary by ethnicity and age, influenced by the geographical pattern of ethnic population residential location. Evidence from an analysis of net migration, population concentration and deprivation by quintile group suggests that migrants from most of the non-white ethnic groups are tending to move within London to areas containing lower proportions of those in the same ethnic group. White migrants, on the other hand, are moving towards areas with higher white population concentrations. Finally, there is a tendency for all ethnic groups to move away from more deprived wards towards less deprived areas within London, particularly Indians aged over 25.
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London has by far the largest concentration of ethnic minorities amongst its population compared with anywhere else in Britain, providing the most suitable region within which to investigate the internal migration of ethnic groups at ward level. Whilst much research attention has been paid to ethnic population concentration in Britain (e.g. Phillips, 1998; Scott et al, 2001; Johnson et al., 2001) and in London in particular (e.g. Peach, 1996; Peloe & Rees, 1999; Johnson et al., 2002), studies of ethnic internal movement remain relatively few and far between. Champion (2005) has mapped white and non-white net migration at district scale, Finney & Simpson (2008) have used the 2001 Individual Samples of Anonymised Records (SAR) to identify characteristisics of ethnic group migrants, and the spatial patterns of migration have been investigated at district level using different district classification frameworks by Stillwell & Hussain (2008) and Hussain & Stillwell (2008). The DMAG Briefing by Mackintosh (2005) is one of the few studies examining internal migration by ethnic group in London.

The aim of this chapter is to provide some insights into our understanding on the propensities, patterns and processes of ethnic migration in the capital city and between London wards and the rest of England and Wales using existing data from the Special Migration Statistics (SMS) but also specially commissioned tables provided by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that cross-classify migration by ethnic group and by age. The analyses of these data allow the following research questions or objectives to be addressed:

  • i.

    How do migration propensities vary between those ethnic groups who were resident in London wards at the time of the 2001 Census and how does London compare with Britain as a whole in this respect? We know that, nationally, Asian groups have the lowest propensities to migrate and Chinese have the highest, particularly between districts (Finney and Simpson, 2008; Hussain and Stillwell, 2008), but our aim here is to consider how propensities vary between ethnic groups for moves taking place within London and how intensities of migration into and out of London for non-white groups compare with rates of migration for the white group.

  • ii.

    What spatial patterns of ethnic migration are evident in London at the ward level when we use net migration as a summary variable and does the geographical variation tell us anything about processes of ethnic concentration or dispersal? Whilst the commissioned tables introduced in the next section do not provide data on ward to ward flows in London, they do allow the computation of ethnic net migration balances for wards and the analysis reported later shows how geographical patterns of net migration across the city for flows within London are very different to those patterns for flows between wards in London and the rest of England and Wales.

  • iii.

    Is there any evidence in London of ethnic groups moving away from or towards areas of ethnic concentration and from areas of higher deprivation to areas of lower deprivation? One of the key debates in the literature, particularly in the USA (e.g. Frey, 1996; Ellis & Wright, 1998), has been that relating to the concept of ‘white flight’, the notion that white people are leaving areas with increasing non-white populations with the inevitable consequence of greater ethnic polarisation. Trends such as these, the processes that underpin them, and the role of internal migration in the dynamics of neighbourhood change have not been explored very thoroughly in Britain or elsewhere in Europe for that matter. These ideas provide some context for an analysis of ward net migration rates and location quotients by quintile. The chapter investigates whether there is any evidence to indicate that ethnic groups are concentrating in areas of where members of the same ethnic group reside in London and examines net migration rates in relation to deprivation using the Townsend index for 2001.

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