Ethnicity and immigration

Ethnicity and immigration

Understanding Society provides an up-to-date and accurate picture of ethnicity and immigration in the UK, the likes of which have never been possible before.

Since 1994, there has been no dedicated national survey of Britain’s main ethnic minority groups and there has never been a national household panel survey in which substantial numbers of minority group members are followed year-on-year.

Researching ethnicity in Understanding Society

Understanding Society has four key elements that enable extensive research of ethnicity and across ethnic groups over time:

  • an emphasis on ethnicity-related questions in the survey as a whole.
  • a ethnic minority boost (EMB) sample of over 6,000 adults from all ethnic minority groups (designed to reach at least 1,000 in each of five ethnic groups: Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean and Black African), in addition to over 5,500 in the main, nationally representative sample.
  • an immigrant and ethnic minority boost (IEMB) sample of additional respondents from the five target ethnic minority groups in the EMB, plus a sample of immigrants from groups other than these five ethnic minority groups.
  • an additional five minutes of questions with an ethnicity focus, which are asked of only a subsection of the whole Study.

The questionnaire

All participants answer the same basic questionnaire, a subsample comprising mainly ethnic minorities and immigrants living in Great Britain are asked an additional five minutes of questions. The basic questionnaire also includes ethnicity-related questions related to issues such as ethnic group, national identity, own, parents' and grandparents’ countries of birth, childhood language.

How are the ‘extra five minutes’ decided?

The questions are chosen in consultation with researchers and stakeholders, and in discussion with the Ethnicity Strand Advisory Committee.

How do I find the data?

The data from Understanding Society are available via the UK Data Service.