02/05/2013 05:26 BST

White British Could Be Minority By 2070, UK To Be One Of World's Most Ethnically Diverse Nations By 2050

Britain will become one of the world's most ethnically diverse countries in less than 40 years, an academic study has found.

The proportion of minority groups living in Britain will rise from 10% in 2006 to 40% by 2050, the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said.

The Observatory's Professor David Coleman said if current trends continue, the so-called majority-ethnic group in the UK - white British - will become a minority before 2070.

london school assembly

An assembly at a primary school in London

Prof Coleman said this assumption does not factor in the impact of current or future government attempts to reduce net migration.

In his briefing, Prof Coleman said: "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."

In England and Wales, censuses show that in 1841 just 0.25% of the population was "foreign-born", rising to 4.4% in 1951. By 2010/2011, in the whole of the UK, immigrants made up 13% of the population.

Professor Coleman said part of the reason behind the decline in white-British members of the population is declining birth rates.

He said: "The continuation of these trends in low-fertility countries would eventually lead to the majority ethnic group becoming a numerical minority of the national population."

The professor says the UK has the highest migration projection and the point at which the country's ethnic minority population overtakes the majority at around 2070.

However, he adds that this would occur in younger age-groups and major urban areas earlier.