Ethnicity and languages

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Ethnicity and languages

This JSNA section contains data on ethnicity and how this varies by age group and has changed over time, and also includes information on the languages people speak including ability to speak English.

Ethnicity summary

Having a comprehensive understanding of the ethnic diversity of a population is crucial since it has been demonstrated that some wider determinants of health, including health behaviours, varies by ethnic background. The prevalence of some health conditions also varies by ethnicity. Service design and communications may also need to take account of the ethnicity and cultural backgrounds of the population, and it is important to ensure that services are accessible to, and accessed by, people of all ethnicities.

In this dashboard we present ethnicity data in broad groups and then at more detailed levels.

Page 2 of the dashboard shows broad groupings for both 2011 and 2021. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough as a whole is an ethnically diverse area, but this diversity is most apparent in our cities and less so in more rural areas. In Cambridge, in 2021, 74.6% of the population describe their broad ethnic group as White, with a very similar proportion in Peterborough (75.4%).  This is lower than for England as a whole, where 81.0% of the population is White.

In the more rural district areas, the proportion who are white is higher – from 89% in South Cambridgeshire to 95.9% in Fenland.

In both Cambridge and Peterborough, the next largest broad ethnic group in the population are Asian or Asian British (14.3% in Peterborough, 14.8% in Cambridge, compared to 9.6% in England as a whole) Elsewhere, the population identifying as Asian or Asian British is quite low – from 1.1% in Fenland to 5.8% in South Cambridgeshire, but for England as a whole it is 9.6%.

Within the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area the percentage of the population who identify as Black, Black British, Caribbean or African varies from 0.8% in both East Cambridgeshire and Fenland to 4.1% in Peterborough. Overall, the proportion of people from a broadly Black ethnicity is lower in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough than in England as a whole (4.2%).

Across our area the percentage of the population who identify as Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups varies from 1.4% in Fenland to 5.1% in Cambridge. This compares to 3.0% of the population in England. The percentage of the population who belong to the broad category ‘other ethnic groups’ varies from 0.7% in East Cambridgeshire, Fenland and Huntingdonshire to 3.1% in Cambridge. This compares to 2.2% of the population in England.

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It may be easier to open this dashboard in a new page. If the visualisations do not look as you expect them to, or if the required option is not visible, please press the ‘reset filters’ button at the top of each page. For more information see the JSNA User guide

More detailed definitions of ethnicity are available (see page 3 of the dashboard). Splitting the ‘White’ category into UK and ‘other White backgrounds’ shows that although Cambridge and Peterborough have similar proportions of people with White as their broad ethnic group, in Cambridge there is a greater proportion of people from ‘other White’ backgrounds (19.6%) than in Peterborough (14.6%). This ties in with what was seen in the recent migrant data – Cambridge has a high rate of recent migrants from overseas.

In the other district areas, the proportion who are from White backgrounds other than the UK is lower, from 6.3% in Huntingdonshire to 8.8% in Fenland.

The more detailed breakdown of ethnicity data for Cambridge shows a relatively high proportion of people with a Chinese ethnicity (4.4% compared with 0.8% across England), and a wide range of people from other backgrounds. Peterborough has a high proportion of people from a Pakistani background (7.9% compared with 2.8% across England), contributing to the high proportion of people with a broad Asian ethnic background noted above.

In our more rural areas (South and East Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire and Fenland) the proportion of people who have an ethnicity other than White is much lower. However, there is considerable diversity within these groups, but few large groups of people from the same ethnic background, other than in South Cambridgeshire where 2.6% of the population is Indian.

More information

The ONS Census visualisation tool allows the user to look at small areas and maps the proportion of the population from a particular ethnic background, as well as how this has changed over time.

Elsewhere on Insight, this dashboard takes Census data and visualises it at Ward or Output Area level which is likely to be useful for people interested in small areas. 

Changes in ethnicity

 

Pages 2 and 4 in the dashboard shows how patterns of ethnicity have changed between 2011 and 2021.The ‘scarf charts’ on page 2 give an oversight and show clearly how the proportions of people who describe themselves as White have fallen in all our areas, as is the case across England.

Page 4 shows that all groups have seen an increase in absolute numbers (due to population increase). The largest increases are clearly found in the ‘other ethnic group’ category which saw large relative increases particularly in Fenland and Peterborough, though this was from a small base in all areas (the table gives numbers of residents in each category). The absolute numbers of people in the White category increased everywhere but the rate of growth was smaller than in other groups.

The chart at the bottom of page 4 shows how the proportion of the population from the selected broad ethnic category has changed between 2011 and 2021 in all our areas. This shows again that the proportion that is White has decreased between 2011 and 2021 in all our areas, most notably in Cambridge City (from 82.5% to 74.5%) and in Peterborough (from 82.5% to 75.4%). Conversely, the proportion that is Asian has increased in most areas with the largest changes seen in Cambridge and Peterborough, as was the case for the proportion from a broad Black ethnicity. All areas have seen a small increase in the share of the population from a mixed ethnic background, apart from Cambridge which saw a larger increase.

Ethnicity by age group

The changing pattern in ethnicity is partly driven by changes in the younger age groups. Page 5 of the dashboard shows broad age breakdowns within each broad ethnic group. Across Cambridgeshire, 27% of people from a White ethnicity are 24 or under (28.4% in Peterborough), but other ethnic groups tend to be younger overall. Most notably, people in the ‘mixed’ broad ethnic group are very likely to be under 25 – 61.4% in Cambridgeshire (64.0% in Peterborough).

Ethnicity and health

Please see this JSNA section for data on self-rated health by ethnic background. 

Languages – spoken English

 

Language is an important factor for service delivery in health and social care. People whose main language is not English, or who are unable to speak English well, may find it more difficult to access services and health advice, which can impact health outcomes and contribute to health inequalities.  

The main language of a population is one indicator that can help to understand the population we are providing services for. However, it is important to also consider other indicators such as ethnicity to understand other cultural and social aspects within a community. 

Open this dashboard as a new page

 

It may be easier to open this dashboard in a new page. If the visualisations do not look as you expect them to, or if the required option is not visible, please press the ‘reset filters’ button at the top of each page. For more information see the JSNA User guide

Page 2 of the dashboard gives an overview of the proportions with English as their main language, and how this has changed over time. In Cambridgeshire in 2021, 90.7% of the population identified their main language as English. This is much lower in both Peterborough and Cambridge (80.0%).

Page 2 also allows us to see how many people cannot speak English well or at all. Peterborough (4.5%) and Fenland (2.5%) have comparably high proportions of the population who cannot speak English or cannot speak English wellIn our other areas, less than 2% of the population cannot speak English well or at all.   

More detail:  

Within the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area there is a large variation in the percentage of the population who identify their main language is English, ranging from 95.1% in East Cambridgeshire to 80.0% in both Cambridge City and Peterborough. This compares to 90.8% of the population in England and 92.4% for the East of England region.  

For all areas the percentage of the population whose main language is English is lower in 2021 than 2011. However, most of these residents can speak English well.

The proportion of people who cannot speak English well or at all is slightly higher in 2021 than it was in 2011 in all areas except Peterborough where it has fallen slightly. However, Peterborough still has the highest proportion of residents who cannot speak English well or at all, at 4.5% in 2021.  In Fenland the figure is 2.5% and in Cambridge it is 1.8%. For all other Cambridgeshire districts, the proportion who cannot speak it well or at all is below 1%. Overall, on Census day in 2021, there were 8,206 people in Cambridgeshire who could not speak English well and 9,402 in Peterborough

Page 2 of the dashboard includes a button on the left to compare our areas to their nearest statistical neighbours. Compared to their nearest neighbours, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have comparatively high proportions of their population who are not able to speak English or cannot speak English well. Data also shows that, compared to their nearest neighbours, most areas within Cambridgeshire and Peterborough (except Huntingdonshire) have comparatively high proportions of their population who identify that their main language is not English. 

 

Page 2 of the dashboard has a button on the left side for a map showing English-speaking ability by smaller areas across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. It shows how English-speaking ability is generally very high across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire – in most areas this is well over 95%. However there are some small areas where difficulty with English is much more common. At ward level there is a varying pattern of people who do not speak English well or at all, with areas within central Peterborough and Wisbech having more than one in ten residents who cannot speak English well or at all.

 

The map shows that the areas where there are higher proportions of people with a different main language often have relatively high proportions of people who don’t speak good English (Peterborough and Wisbech in Fenland). However, in Cambridge there are low levels of people without good English, although there is a high proportion of people who have a different main language.

 

Other languages

Page 3 of the Languages dashboard gives information on the other languages spoken across our area and shows that there is a very rich variety of other main languages. A fifth of people in both Cambridge and Peterborough have a main language other than English. There are numerous languages spoken across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough (85 in Cambridgeshire and 85 in Peterborough – though this will be an underestimate as it includes some groups such as ‘all other Chinese’).

Broadly speaking, in our more rural areas outside the cities, eastern European languages are most common. Polish is the most cited non-English main language in East Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, and South Cambridgeshire, and in Fenland it is Lithuanian (spoken by 35.1% of those without English as their main language). In Peterborough, eastern European languages (Polish and Lithuanian) are also top of the list but there are many South Asian language speakers as well and a high proportion of Portuguese speakers. In Cambridge, Spanish is the top main language (8.9% of people with a main language other than English) and western European languages are more common than elsewhere. A high proportion of people in Cambridge speak Chinese languages, and eastern European languages are frequent as well.

 

 

 

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