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Nearly 1 in 10 people living as a couple were in an inter-ethnic relationship in 2011

ONS looks at inter-ethnic relationships in England and Wales

The 2011 Census has shown that the population in England and Wales has become more ethnically diverse. In 2011, 1.2 million people identified themselves as mixed ethnicity, up from 660,000 in 2001. New ONS analysis provides further insight into diversity by looking at patterns and trends of people living as a couple in an inter-ethnic relationship1. There were 2.3 million people (9%) living as a couple in an inter-ethnic relationship in 2011, up 2 percentage points from 2001 (7%).

People from mixed ethnicity groups most likely to be in inter-ethnic relationship

People from the Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups were the most likely to be in an inter-ethnic relationship with over 8 in 10 people (195,000).  People in these groups are themselves likely to be the result of inter-ethnic relationships that have emerged in the last 60 years (from post war immigration patterns). They have a much younger age profile than some of the other ethnic groups and 80% of the group were born in the UK.

Of all ethnic groups, White and Caribbean, White and Black African, White and Asian, and Other Mixed were the most likely to be in an inter-ethnic relationship

White British people least likely to be in inter-ethnic relationships

White British couples were the least likely to be in an inter-ethnic relationship at around 1 in 25 (4%). This in part reflects that the White British group are the largest group (81% of the overall population) and therefore have a greater opportunity to be in a relationship with someone who is also White British. There were high rates of inter-ethnic relationships with White Irish (71%) and Other Black (62%). Half of Gypsy or Irish Travellers (50%) were in a relationship with someone outside of their ethnic group.

Of all people in inter-ethnic relationships, 4 in 10 (40% or 933,000) included someone who was White British. The most common being between Other White2 and White British (16%); Other White is the second largest ethnic group in England and Wales (4% of the overall population). 

Low rates of people from South Asian ethnic groups in inter-ethnic relationships

After White British, the next least likely to be in an inter-ethnic relationship were Bangladeshi (7%), Pakistani (9%) and Indian (12%). Cultural, racial and religious differences are likely to play a part in the low rate of people from South Asian backgrounds in inter-ethnic relationships.

Chinese women almost twice as likely to be in inter-ethnic relationships as Chinese men

The analysis explored factors such as the type of relationship, gender and age. This finds, for example, that people who were cohabiting were more likely to be in an inter-ethnic relationship than people who were married (or in a civil partnership), 12% compared to 8%.

There were some differences between men and women for some ethnic groups. The Chinese ethnic group had the biggest difference between the sexes where women were almost twice as likely (39%) to be in an inter-ethnic relationship as men (20%). Other Asian women (38%) were also more likely to be in an inter-ethnic relationship than Other Asian men (23%). However, Arab men (43%) were more likely than women (26%) to be in an inter-ethnic relationship.

Where can I find out more about inter-ethnic relationships and census statistics?

If you would like to find out more about the latest 2011 Census statistics, you can read the release or visit the 2011 Census analysis page or view the infographic. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email us at: equalitiesandwellbeing@ons.gsi.gov.uk.

Notes

  1. Inter-ethnic relationships are defined as a relationship between a couple who are either married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting and each partner identifies with an ethnic group different from the other (within any of the 18 ethnic group classifications).

  2. Other White is made up of numerous groups that chose to write in a response under the White ethnic group category. This includes for example, Polish and other Western European groups.

Categories: Population, People and Places, People, Identity, Ethnicity and Identity, Population Change
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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