London is now home to more than 8.6 million people, the highest the city’s population has been since 1939. What’s more, 44% of London now consists of black and ethnic minorities, compared to only 28.9% in 2001. That’s according to the Greater London Authority, which serves the London mayor’s office [via the BBC].
London’s proportion of immigrants may seem high, but that’s not an uncommon balance for many global business capitals. Below are diversity readings for some of the world’s largest financial centers, according to research group Long Finance’s Global Financial Centres Index. (Zurich, Seoul, Tokyo, and Geneva are also in the top 10, but reliable demographic data for those cities was not readily available.)
The data on US cities count anyone who did not identify as white, including Hispanic and Latino people. The dates for each city’s reading above range from 2011 to 2015.
London has always attracted immigrants, but they’ve often come one group at a time, the Economist notes. That began to change in the 1990s, as conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, the Soviet Union’s collapse, EU expansion, and growing emerging market wealth drove more foreigners to Britain. Between 2001 and 2011, London’s white population decreased by 6%, while the “Black other” population (not African or Caribbean) increased 110%, according to the 2014 Greater London Authority report. Overall, black and ethnic minorities grew 55.5% over the decade.
The growth could have a major impact on politics. A recent report from the Migrants’ Rights Network and the University of Manchester estimates that around four million foreign-born residents will be eligible voters in this year’s May elections. Though they don’t vote uniformly, there are a few issues immigrants tend to agree on. For instance, the report suggests that migrant voters (ethnic minorities who are not born in the UK) care more about issues of immigration and discrimination. Those sentiments could be bad news for the right-wing UK Independence Party, which has veered toward anti-immigration policies.