Black or Black British Groups


The largely differing migration patterns between the Caribbean and African communities, has greatly contributed towards the social and economic make-up of both these respective communities within the UK. 

Britain's active recruitment of labor to help the war effort contributed largely towards the history of Caribbean settlement in the UK. 8,000 men were recruited to serve in the RAF; foresters were recruited from British Honduras to work in Scottish forests; workers were recruited to work in the munitions industry.

However post- war migration through the arrival of 417 Jamaicans on the 'Empire Windrush' in 1948 and 100 Jamaicans on the 'Ormonde' a year earlier are often linked to another major wave and population influx of Caribbeans arriving to settle in the UK. By the time of the 1951Census there were about 17,000 persons born in the Caribbean living in Britain.

The movement to Britain acted as a 'replacement population' filling gaps left by the upward mobility of the White population. Migration sustained significant parts of the service industries in Britain, including The NHS and the transport system.

The African migratory pattern takes a much earlier date than the large scale immigration during the 1960’s, with immigration focused on recruitment for employment. Well-established African communities existed in the seaports of Liverpool, London and Cardiff as far back as the 1940s.  As oppose to the employment factor, wealth and prestige associated with studying abroad has been one of the key drivers for the African community's migration to the UK.

In 1991, Black Africans were the most qualified ethnic minority group in Britain, with over 26% of the population over 18 years of age possessing higher qualifications. Traditionally there were quite clear career aspirations and targets for the Black African communities. The principal fields of qualification were: management studies, nursing, sociology, education, clinical medicine, engineering, accountancy and law. Within this, there are also clear gender differences, with women outnumbering men in nursing and education.

The Black Caribbean group

Total population in Britain: 566,000
Proportion of all people in Britain: 1%
Source: Census 2001, Office for National Statistics; Census 2001 General Register Office for Scotland

Patterns of Migration

For the most part the Black Caribbean population is disseminated from people whose ancestors in the eighteenth century were taken as slaves from West Africa to British colonies in the West Indies. By the nineteenth century when slavery was abolished many British cities had small black populations. Today the main country of birth for the Black Caribbean population is England (57 per cent) and Jamaica (23 per cent), with 3 per cent born in Barbados with roughly 2 per cent each from Trinidad, Tobago, Guyana, Grenada, and small amounts born in a number of other countries, including countries born outside the British commonwealth, such as Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.  The Caribbean Islands of Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Windward Islands, Barbados and Trinidad are home to where most British Caribbeans migrated from during the nineteenth century.  

After the Second World War a number of Caribbean men who had served in the armed forces stayed in Britain, and in 1948 the SS Empire Windrush brought a historic group of Jamaican immigrants to Tilbury. Large scale migration from the Caribbean only started in the 1950s after immigration to America became more difficult. By 1951 there were about 17,000 people born in the Caribbean living in Britain.

The largest proportion of the Black Caribbean population lives in London (61 per cent), with a further 15 per cent living in the West Midlands. The remainders are fairly evenly distributed among the regions.

The Black Caribbean community is probably seen as the community that in one way is most integrated into the UK - through its acceptance and success in music, sports, entertainment, media and business.

Age and sex profile

Migrants from the Caribbean tended to come to Britain as family units unlike those from South Asian countries. This contributed to the unique shape of the population pyramid for the Black Caribbean population which has three distinct peaks at around ages 60, 38 and 16. The first of these peaks represents the Windrush generation, most of the second generation and almost all of the third generation were born in Britain.

Unusually the Black Caribbean population has a greater number of women than men in the working age population (54 per cent) which could be the consequence of an undercount of men. Uniquely more Black Caribbean females of working age are likely to be in professional or managerial occupational groups (30 per cent compared with 20 per cent). In all other groups the number is similar or men are the majority in this bracket.

Black Caribbean women are seen to be more successful and have higher rates of self-employment. than many other ethnic minority groups and fall within an emerging new middle class that has a strong community network, strong Christian principles and are committed to improving education, employment and achievement within their community, however the social and economic issues that exist within the Black Caribbean community have led to a broadening gap between the community and the 'establishment'. Where Black Caribbean women have similar employment rates to White women (72%), young Black Caribbean men have very high unemployment rates with 54% of Black Caribbean families are lone parent families.


The Black Caribbean population has a similar religious profile to the While British population with 74 per cent classified as Christian and 11 per with no religion. The Black Caribbean Christian population in Britain has tended to establish its own churches rather than becoming involved with mainstream British religious institutions and many black churches are evangelical. Other religion affiliations among the community include Muslim, Rastafarian and Jehovah's Witness. Religion in the Blcak Caribbean community is not a huge dividing force amongst the groups, unlike the Asian community where religion can be a strong divider.


Unlike most ethnic minority groups, foreign-born members of the Black Caribbean population tend to speak English as their first language. Hence language is not an issue as with the Asian community, with English being the main language across all the communities.
The Black African group

Total population in Britain: 485,000
Proportion of all people in Britain: 0.8%
Source: Census 2001, Office for National Statistics; Census 2001 General Register Office for Scotland

The Black African grouping is one of the most diverse in terms of country of origin with 34 per cent born in the UK, 16 per cent in Nigeria, 10 per cent in Ghana, eight per cent in Ghana, 4 per cent in Zimbabwe, 3 per cent in Uganda and 21 per cent in other African states.  The community’s diversity is also characterised internally with 53 potential countries of origin from the African continent residing in the UK.  The current UK population of Black Africans are largely from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana and Somalia.

Black Africans have a long history of residence in the UK - well before the more recent periods of migration in the 1960s.  The history of their migration differs significantly from those immigrants (Asian and Caribbean) that were recruited directly for the purposes of employment.

Patterns of migration

There has been a long history of small-scale migration from Sub-Saharan African nations with Somali sailors settling in Britain in the late nineteenth century and Black African communities forming in the major British seaports. Unsurprisingly in such heterogeneous group, there were a range of factors driving migration. In the post-independence period the number of people traveling to Britain for education and technical training increased as the demand for skills and education could not be met locally. This continues to be a driving force in migration today but economic pressures and political persecution also drive people to travel to Britain.

From the 1960s onwards, political instability in various African nations including Kenya, Uganda and Malawi has contributed to increased migration to Britain. More recent conflicts such as those in Rwanda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo have also led to migration from Africa.

The Black African population in Britain is largely concentrated in London, where for the first time the Black African population has outnumbered the Black Caribbean. Of the Black African population, 78 per cent live in London. There are also Black African communities in Liverpool, Leeds and Cardiff, which were historically centres of African migration.


According to the 2001 Census, 69 per cent of Black Africans are Christian and 20 per cent Muslim. Only two per cent had no religion. Both have very strong links into the communities and are a reflection of the cultural traditions that bind the groups together.

Age and sex profile

The median age of the Black African population is 27 for men and 28 for women, and 68 per cent are of working age. Slightly more women than men are in the working age population (53 per cent), but among the over 65s, 52 per cent are male.


Language is a differentiator amongst the communities, with each country of origin having its own mother tongue. A multitude of languages are spoken by the Black African population. The more commonly spoken African languages include Swahili, Somali, Yoruba, and Twi. 

However, the social structures of the communities that migrated to the UK and the strong educational influences that have played a part in the migration have meant that English is now the dominant language amongst the communities.

The Other Black group

Total population in Britain: 96,000
Proportion of all people in Britain: 0.2%
Source: Census 2001, Office for National Statistics; Census 2001 General Register Office for Scotland Of people identifying themselves as Other Black in the 2001 Census, 79 per cent were born in Britain, 9 per cent were born in Africa, 5 per cent were born in the Caribbean the remaining 7 per cent were largely from South and North America with a small number born in the rest of the world. They majority identified themselves in the write-in box as having a Black British ethnicity.

Age and sex profile

With regard to the age and gender profile of the Other Black group, the majority were of working age (59 per cent) and most of the remainder (38 per cent) were under 16, with only 3 per cent aged 65 and older. The majority of people in this group were born in Africa (84 per cent) and the Caribbean (70 per cent) and were aged between 16 and 65. This is likely to be because of the large number of economic migrants in this group. Other Black Africans were most likely to be in the highest socioeconomic group. Working age men born in Africa were also least likely to be unemployed.
The UK-born Other Black population had fewer people of working age (54 per cent) and the largest proportion under 16 (45 per cent). The oldest age profile was among those born in the Caribbean, of whom 25 per cent were over 65 - similar to the profile of the Black Caribbean population which has a distinctive peak above age 60, reflecting migration patterns.


The religious makeup of the Other Black population is largely Christian (67 per cent), with 12 per cent stating that they had no religion, 15 per cent opting not to state their religion and 6 per cent identifying themselves as Muslim. Christians accounted for the same proportion of people in the Other Black group born in the UK and Caribbean and the West Indies (69 per cent) but made up only 57 per cent of those born in Africa. A far larger proportion of Other Blacks born in Africa were Muslim (28 per cent), compared with those born in the UK (1 per cent) and the Caribbean and the West Indies (1 per cent).


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