Six things about how poverty affects different ethnic groups in the UK

Helen Barnard asks in the blog: What have we learned about the economic situation for people of different ethnicities?

Raising living standards has become one of the biggest themes of this election. Our research shows it’s vital to understand the role of ethnicity and gender if we want to reduce poverty in the UK. New research published today gives the most comprehensive picture to date of the economic situation of people from all ethnicities in the UK, but what have we learned?

  • Child poverty is much higher in some ethnic minority groups than in the rest of the population. Over 40% of Bangladeshi and Pakistani children are growing up in poverty, compared to 31% of Chinese, 22% of Black Caribbean and 15% of children in the white majority population.
  • Poverty is more persistent for people from Black African and Pakistani backgrounds than for those from other ethnic groups.
  • The chances of being paid below the living wage vary considerably by ethnicity and gender. More than 30% of women from the white majority, Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups are paid less than the living wage. Over a third of Pakistani men and over half of Bangladeshi men are paid below the living wage.
  • The biggest driver of wage inequality is that people from different ethnic groups tend to go into different kinds of jobs.
  • Improving skills and qualifications can make a big difference to poverty, but it is not the whole story. Nearly a quarter of all graduates are now over-qualified for their jobs, but for Black African graduates this figure rises to 40%.
  • Where you live matters. Unemployment rates for each ethnic group vary around the country, as do the types of jobs that people go into. For example:
  • People from the Indian group are most likely to be unemployed in Hackney or Wolverhampton (11%) and least likely in Cambridge and Hertsmere (4%).
  • 25% of people from the African group are unemployed in Birmingham, compared to 9% in Reading.
  • People in the Chinese group are most likely to be unemployed in Haringey and Waltham Forest (10%) and least likely in the City of London and Warwick (3%).

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s 2014 Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion report highlighted the importance of tackling entrenched low pay and lack of job progression in reducing poverty. This new research makes it clear that these problems are not evenly distributed across the population.

The reports published today show: