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Population Report
In this section of the report, our aim, through a broad overview, is to present an insight into some of the characteristics of the UK's South Asian population.

a) Proportion of the Total Population

As we can see from Table Two (right), the majority of South Asians are of Indian origin, a figure borne out by the Home Office Statistical Monitor, Ethnic Minorities in Great Britain, which gave the following estimates of the proportion of South Asians as a percentage of the total population:

  • Indians 1.4%
  • Pakistanis 0.8%
  • Bangladeshis 0.2%

see note (i) below

The above Home Office estimates are similar to our (SADP's) own, which are based on the more recently published 1991 national census.

(i) see page 2 of the Home Office Statistical Monitor, Ethnic Minorities in Great Britain: Key Facts on Minorities of Afro-Caribbean and Asian Origin, Government Statistical Service, November 1991.


Table Two

South Asians as a proportion of the total population
Total population of
Great Britain* 54,852,425
Indians 1.5%
Pakistanis 0.9%
Bangladeshis 0.3%
Total South Asians 2.7%
* Note: This figure does not include Northern Ireland



b) Age Structure of South Asians in Britain

Age Structure


Under 16 16-29 30-44 45+
% % % %
Indian 31 24 23 22
Pakistan 45 21 18 16
Bangladeshi 48 23 10 19
Women Under 16 16-29 30-44 45+
% % % %
Indian 29 28 24 19
Pakistan 45 26 20 9
Bangladeshi 45 28 18 9

Source: adapted from Table 2, page 3, Home Office Statistical Monitor, November 1991

South Asian Population Report for Great Britain

Based on County Monitors (England & Wales) and Regional Monitors (Scotland) of the 1991 OPCS Census

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the figures shown in Table Three is the large proportion of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis under the age of 16 - approaching 50% of the total population of each group in each case, while the age distribution of the Indian population is far more evenly spread.  In all groups, however, the vast majority of people under 16 will have been born in the UK.

Different Set Of Problems

The implications behind this information are highly significant and present a very different set of problems to TECs and other organisations when it comes to developing plans and strategies to meet the needs of ethnic minority groups.

Here, too, is another excellent example of the inadequacy of categorising people within broad brush definitions.

Just think about it: with the majority of those aged under 16, we have a group of young people who are growing up within a different culture from that of their parents. As a result of this `culture clash', communication breakdowns frequently occur, with parents and their children finding it increasingly difficult to relate.




c) Nationality

Of the Indian population of the UK, 78 per cent have UK nationality, while the equivalent figures for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are 85 per cent and 56 per cent respectively (ii).


d) Unemployment

The unemployment rates For South Asians, quoted within this report., are based on the published figures for the period 1987-1989 (iii), and are therefore not an accurate reflection of the picture today.

Nevertheless, a direct comparison of the rates for the period in question highlights some significant differences. Al 25 per cent, the unemployment rate among Pakistanis and Bangladeshis stood at. more than twice that for the Indian population (around 11 per cent). Both figures, however, were higher than that given for the White population, which stood at nine per cent.


e) Occupational Breakdown

What can we learn from the figures in Table Four (below)?

As one can see, Indians tend towards the managerial/professional occupations. In fact, in this respect, they have a greater presence in these occupational groups than do the. White population (iv).

Pakistanis, on the other.her hand, seem to be highly represented in the manual occupations, while Pakistani women, along with their Bangladeshi counterparts, tend to have a lower rate of participation in all occupations.

Although some Pakistanis can be found in the professional occupational groups, they appear to be absent. from the clerical/white collar jobs.

(ii) see Home Office Statistical Monitor (1991) page 4

(iii) see Home Office Statistical Monitor (1991) page 8

(iv) see Home Office Statistical Monitor (1991) page 9

Occupational Breakdown:
male @ female by ethnic group




Pakistanis & Bangladeshis


Pakistanis & Bangladeshis
% % % %
Clerical 7 * 31 *
Managerial 41 27 23 *
Other non-manual 7 * 9 *
All non-manual 55 36 63 61
Craftsmen 19 18 11 *
Other manual 26 44 25 *
All Manual 45 64 37 *
* Sample size too small to make reliable estimates.  Source: adapted from Table 7, page 9. Home Office Statistical Monitor November 1991

f) Self-Employment

see Table Five (below)

Significantly men from the South Asian communities have a much higher level of self-employment than that for the white population.  This, again, has important implications for TECs and other organisations, as does the fact that the majority of self-employed South Asians either work alone or employ just one or two other people.


Table Five

Indians Pakistanis/Bangladeshis Whites
% % %


21 22 12

Source: adapted from Table 9, page 10, Home Office Statistical Monitor (1991)


Table Six

Educational Achievement
Indians Pakistanis/Bangladeshis Whites
% % %
Degree 8 4 7
Higher Education 6 2 9
A Level 14 6 9
O Level 16 16 20

Source: adapted from Table 9, Page 12, Home Office Statistical Monitor (1991)


From the data in Table Six, it appears that the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis performed least well within the British educational system.  Indians, on the other hand, have achieved a high level of performance, with twice as many obtaining degrees as their Pakistani and Bangladeshi counterparts.

South Asian Development Partnership 1992.


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