Ethnic minorities lose out in labour market
Press release issued: 29 June 2009
Non-White people in England and Wales are likely to be educationally and occupationally disadvantaged because of their skin colour or religious background, even if they are Christian, with non-White Muslims the most affected group, according to a new report from the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship.
According to a new report, non-White people in England and Wales are likely to be educationally and occupationally disadvantaged because of their skin colour or religious background, even if they are Christian, with non-White Muslims the most affected group.
The report by Dr Nabil Khattab from the University’s Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship indicates that White people generally have more successful careers than other ethnic groups, despite the fact that almost all ethno-religious groups are more likely to remain in full-time education that are Christian White British people. The findings suggest that this is due to a high motivation among minority groups to achieve educational qualifications in order to overcome discrimination in the labour market. Christian Black Africans, Hindu Indians and Jewish White British have the highest proportion of people aged 16-24 in full-time education.
Drawing on almost one million records from the 2001 Census, the report addresses whether having a successful career is due to education, across all ethnic and faith groups, and whether ethnic differences are due to religious affiliation and/or skin colour. The level of disadvantage experienced by minority groups appears to be dependent on whether the specific culture is seen as compatible with, or 'alien' to, mainstream culture. For instance, ‘whiteness’ seems to confer educational and occupational success on groups that belong to or are close to it (such as White people with no religion), while religion has a negative impact on groups that are considered to be culturally 'alien', regardless, or in spite of, whether their skin colour is white or not.
For example, White Muslims face obstacles in the labour market in a similar way to non-Whites, which suggests that the negative impact of being Muslim is stronger than the positive impact of being White. Among Indians from the three main faith groups (Hindu, Sikh and Muslim), Sikh Indians experience the highest level of disadvantage, which the author attributes to the visibility of the turban.
Some of the key findings are that:
- A high proportion of Muslim Pakistanis, Muslim Bangladeshis, Muslim Indians and Muslim Whites leave school without any qualifications
- In the first three groups, the proportion among women is higher than men, at 32 per cent, 39 per cent and 26 per cent respectively
- Hindu Indians, Christian White Others and Jewish White British have the highest proportion of men and women with higher qualifications (53 per cent, 50 per cent and 45 per cent respectively for men and 53 per cent, 53 per cent and 46 per cent respectively for women)
- Christian White British men and women are less likely than most other groups to hold higher qualifications. Despite this, all ethnic groups, with the exception of Muslim Indians and Hindu Indians, are less likely to obtain managerial and professional jobs that Christian White British men
- Among women, all groups, with the exception of Jewish White British women, fare worse than Christian White British women in the labour market
The data are drawn from the 2001 UK census samples of anonymised record (SARs). The sample used in the analysis is a three-per-cent section (or 988,782 records) of all men and women living in England and Wales.
Educational qualifications were measured using five categories ranging from no qualification through to higher education.
Occupational class was measured using the 2001 census question on occupational class, which in turn is derived from the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO).
Speaking about the report, its author Dr Khattab said:
‘The data used in the report are not new but the findings are. They appear to reinforce what we already believe to be the case: that non-White people in England and Wales are disadvantaged because of their skin colour or ethnic background. Given that the data are drawn from the 2001 census, which predates the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks, we can predict that people from ethnic backgrounds, particularly Muslims, currently experience higher levels of discrimination than those indicated in the report.’