How Indian Migrants Move to Affluent Suburbs in Britain

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The second- and third-generation migrant communities are on the move, driven by rising affluence and aspirations, the Guardian newspaper reported on its website Sunday citing an analysis for the Observer.

The Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in suburban Neasden in northwest London, is a testimony to something significant happening in Britain, a shift that has been occurring largely without notice, it said. The site was chosen partly because of the region’s large number of Hindus.

The suburb was attractive to Hindu migrants because of “better employment prospects … the choice of good schools and business opportunities”, the newspaper quoted Yogesh Patel , a spokesman for the temple, as saying.

“We are seeing an emerging segment of dynamic young professionals, entrepreneurs and ambitious, resourceful wealth creators, all giving back to our country, enriching it economically, socially, culturally,” said Patel.

Increasingly, younger generations believe their futures lie in the suburbs. The extent of this trend will emerge with greater clarity once the results of this year’s census are published, the Guardian said.

An exhaustive analysis of Britain’s ethnic minorities, carried out for the Observer by data-mining company Experian paints a vivid picture of the impact they are having on regions where once they were notably absent.

Experian’s Mosaic database tracks almost 50 million people in Britain via their surnames. The names are then matched to postcodes, allowing the social mobility of immigrant groups to be tracked.

“In the old days you would see these groups conspicuously settling in inner-city areas,” said professor Richard Webber , who developed the database, “but you can now see how most groups have suburbanised themselves.”

Experian’s data confirms the hypothesis. In London suburbs of the sort that are dominated by 1930s-built semi-detached housing, there can now be found high concentrations of Sri Lankans in the south (New Malden, Mitcham), Sikhs in the west (Southall, Hounslow), Hindu Indians in the northwest (Wembley, Harrow) and Greek Cypriots in the north (Southgate, Palmers Green), the newspaper said.

According to Webber, these are minority groups who have traditionally sought to acquire their own homes. As their economic circumstances have improved, they have moved outwards.

Contrary to common stereotypes, the data suggests that many members of immigrant communities live in relatively prestigious neighbourhoods.

Almost one in four people in Harrow now have a Hindu Indian surname. By contrast, people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origins are far more likely to live in poorer neighbourhoods, as are Albanians, black Africans and Vietnamese.

Admittedly the migrant aspiration to escape the inner city is nothing new, said Sarah Mulley , associate director of the IPPR think-tank. “You’ve had successive migrant groups moving into the inner city and then, when they are established, moving out to be replaced by another migrant group.”

But changes to immigration policy suggest that the shift to more affluent suburbs will become more pronounced. “Restricted immigration regimes mean migrant workers entering the UK are more likely to be highly paid and highly skilled,” Mulley said.

“People are now coming to do a specific, professional job, which means they are concentrated in particular areas that are increasingly outside London. The profiles of those communities are changing.”


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