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Britain's mixed race population leaps over one million as research reveals prejudices have sharply dropped
Olympic heptathlete Jessica Ennis hailed as 'face of the census' according to think-tank director
Her father Vinnie is from Jamaica and her mother Alison is from DerbyshireCensus expected to reveal at least 1m people born to mixed race parentsOnly 42% of people in survey could correctly identify Ennis as mixed race
comfortable with mixed race marriages than men by 66 to 58%
00:30 GMT, 10 December 2012
The mixed-race population is among the fastest growing in Britain and is already the largest ethnic group among under-16s.
Data from the 2011 census, released tomorrow, will suggest there are now more than one million people born to parents in interracial relationships.
But academics believe the true figure could be more than double this, because many of mixed-race are believed to define themselves as a single race on official forms.
Mixed race: Olympic heptathlete Jessica Ennis, 26, of Sheffield, is pictured (left with her MBE) with her fiancee Andy Hill in November 2011, while her parents Alison Powell and Vinnie Ennis are seen (right) in August 2009
It coincides with a poll which suggests prejudices towards mixed-race relationships are waning.
Think-tank British Future found just 15 per cent would feel uncomfortable if their child was in an interracial relationship, compared with 40 per cent two decades ago.
Among the 18 to 24 category, this fell to 5 per cent, with the younger generation claiming they would be more concerned if their child married someone from a wealthier background.
The prominence of mixed-race celebrities has been partly credited with helping to change attitudes.
Born to a white British mother and Jamaican father, Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis, 26, was heralded as the unofficial poster girl of the London 2012 Games.
When Ennis’s parents Alison and Vinnie met in Derbyshire in the 1980s, the majority of the population were opposed to mixed-race relationships.
The survey by British Future ask 2,000 adults to think about their children or grandchildren being in a serious relationship
Champion: The British Future survey also found only 42 per cent of people could correctly identify Jessica Ennis (pictured winning gold in the London 2012 heptathlon in August) as mixed race
Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said: ‘Jessica Ennis was not just the face of the Olympics this summer; she could stake a fair claim to be the face of the census, too.’
Other mixed-race stars include Britain’s Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon, born to a Jamaican father and white-British mother.
The latest census results are expected to rank British Indians as the largest ethnic minority group.
Islam will also be identified as the fastest-growing faith, with more than two million Muslims. According to the 2001 census, 677,177 classified themselves as mixed race, equating to 1.2 per cent of the UK population.
'Britain’s minorities seem to be following a similar path trodden by many immigrants in America – gradually merging with the majority group until ethnic differences are no longer noticed or relevant'
The 2011 census is expected to show that one million Britons are mixed race, which equates to 1.6 per cent of the population.
British Future, which asked more than 2,000 adults to think about their children or grandchildren being in a serious relationship, found that race was largely not an issue.
However, the poll found 56 per cent felt uncomfortable about the partner having a criminal record. A third felt uncomfortable about their offspring dating someone of the same sex or someone more than 15 years older or younger. The survey found 87 per cent of people from mixed-race backgrounds were open to mixed-race relationships compared with 60 per cent of whites.
Many struggled to identify a mixed-race person with only 42 per cent correctly guessing Ennis was of dual ethnicity.
Rob Ford, an expert in diversity and migration at Manchester University, said: ‘Britain’s minorities seem to be following a similar path of integration trodden by many immigrants, such as the Irish, Poles and Italians, in America – gradually merging with the majority group until ethnic differences are no longer noticed or relevant.’