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The British Integration Survey lays bare the lack of interaction that we are seeing across all areas.

Oliver Lee OBE, CEO of The Challenge

The British Integration Survey 2019

We asked a series of questions about how people connect across a range of differences, including ethnicity, socio-economic background, age and education. Using a nationally representative sample of over 6,500 people, our findings provide valuable insights into the factors driving social connection and highlight which groups are most socially isolated.

Significant numbers of people remain isolated from those of different ages, classes, ethnicity and educational backgrounds to them.

The British Integration Survey 2019

The British Integration Survey 2019

This report provides a snapshot of the state of integration in Britain today. The survey’s findings present a mixed picture – it is encouraging that the majority of Britons are mixing with people from different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds to their own, but we also find that social segregation persists for a large number of people. There are substantial numbers of people in society who are largely or completely isolated from those of a different ethnicity, different educational or socio-economic background, and even those of different age groups from them.


In addition to collecting information on the extent to which people mix with those of different backgrounds, we asked questions on attitudes and perceptions. We found an association between increased diversity in social networks and increased empathy towards minority groups, showing the effectiveness of contact across difference as a way to strengthen positive social relations and reduce prejudice.

“Significant numbers of people remain isolated from those of different ages, classes, ethnicity and educational backgrounds to them, and isolation in one sphere often appears to be connected with isolation in others.”

The British Integration Survey 2019

The British Integration Survey 2019 builds on previous research conducted by The Challenge and affirms the importance of our mission to build an integrated society where there is an understanding and appreciation of each other’s differences.

Key findings

  • A majority of Britons have networks that include people from different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds to them – but there are substantial numbers of people who are isolated from those of a different ethnic, educational or socioeconomic background, and even those of different age groups from them.
  • Social segregation in one area is associated with segregation in another – those who only mix with others from the same section of society are nearly twice as likely to report no contact with people from different ethnic backgrounds to themselves.
  • 76% of British people have at least some contacts in their wider networks that they consider to be from a different section of society – but nearly one in five (18%) do not.
  • 53% of Britons have at least some contact in their wider social networks with people from different ethnic backgrounds to them, but 44% have none.
  • BAME people have much more ethnically diverse social networks than white people – 80% of BAME respondents said that they have at least some people from different ethnic groups in their wider social network, compared to 50% of white respondents.
  • Levels of social mixing are particularly low between older and younger age groups – less than 10% of the close contacts of those aged 55 and above are under the age of 18.
  • A higher level of education is associated with greater social integration, but there are social divides between those with university degrees and those without – just 15% of those with school education only or below reported knowing someone with a university degree in their closest social contacts.
  • Similarly, people with no contacts from different socio-economic backgrounds were 42% less likely than those who did to think that it is difficult for those at the bottom of society to do well.
  • Levels of integration vary across the country, with Londoners having the most diverse social networks in terms of both ethnic background and social class – however, nearly one in four Londoners (23%) still said that no one in their social network is from a different ethnic group.
  • People with diversity in their social networks are more likely to express positive attitudes or sympathy towards people of a different background to themselves.