A new academic study commissioned by Oxford University has found that minority groups will make up 40% of the United Kingdom by 2050, making it one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world.  Currently, minority groups make up 10% of the population.  Moreover, it is not just the UK that is set to change, but all European countries.  Press TV reports the Observatory’s Professor David Coleman as saying:


“Migration has become the primary driver of demographic change in most high-income countries and may remain so. On current trends European populations will become more ethnically diverse, with the possibility that today’s majority ethnic groups will no longer comprise a numerical majority in some countries”.


We have discussed before on this blog British concerns about migration – including cancelled plans for a proposed negative tourism marketing campaign in countries from which migration is high.  This study might again raise the ire of those who wish to stay in the majority. 

It is no surprise that it is largely because of the relatively low birth rates in European countries that this situation arises.  Net international migration is now the dominant element in population change in most Western European countries because it significantly exceeds the natural birth rate.  However, it is worth noting that the study stresses that migration is very changeable and is particularly sensitive to political changes – so projections can be inaccurate.  

It is interesting to consider how this will change the national identity of European countries.  A growing number of people identify themselves as having mixed ethnic origins. The increasing complexity of mixed ethnic origins also makes distinctions increasingly difficult at all.  Will migrants largely take on the culture of the country they move to – or slowly create a new national identity for European countries as increase in number? 

National identity is something that subtly changes all the time in any case.  For example, here in New Zealand sixty years ago many felt rugby was the key driver for national identity and – while it still plays a big part – it now competes with the film industry and the arts, as well as a strong Pacifica flavour to many national events given Auckland is now the world’s biggest Pacific city. 

I for one hope that countries are clear on what their important and core values are – and stand up for them (as in life and liberty rather than rugby, although I’m sure Marcus would argue that cricket should be in there somewhere too).  While I love that in general people in the West strive to be tolerant and loving towards all, we have to be careful not to be insipid about the values we hold and stand up for these – first of all discerning what these are!



Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of MercatorNet's blog on population issues, Demography is Destiny. While she has a background as a barrister, writing has been a life-long passion and she has contributed...