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Dr Yaojun Li Department of Sociology Birmingham University Tel: 0121-4158625 Professor Anthony Heath Department.

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Presentation on theme: "Dr Yaojun Li Department of Sociology Birmingham University Tel: 0121-4158625 Professor Anthony Heath Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr Yaojun Li Department of Sociology Birmingham University Email: Tel: 0121-4158625 Professor Anthony Heath Department of Sociology Oxford University Labour Market Positions of Minority Ethnic Groups in Britain: 1972-2005 For RGS-IBG, 30 August 2006 (ESRC RES-163-25-0003) Project website:

2 Aims: To conduct a systematic research on the labour market positions and political orientations of the Minority Ethnic Groups (MEGs) in Britain by analysing harmonized variables on ethnicity, socio-economic position and political orientation from the GHS (1972-2005), LFS (1975-2005), BES (1974-2005), BSA (1983-2004). To compare inter- and intra- generational experiences of the MEGs both amongst themselves and between them and the White charter population. With regard to the positions in the labour market, we shall focus on employment status, self-employment, occupational attainment, and earnings from paid work. With regard to political orientations, we shall examine political participation, political orientation and party support of the MEGs. From these comparisons, we wish to assess the extent and nature of ‘ethnic penalties’, particularly those by the second generation, to provide evidence for human capital and social capital theories on ethnic disadvantage, and to explore the extent to which socio- economic integration of the MEGs is matched by their socio-political integration.

3 Research on ethnic disadvantages -- where academic and policy interests converge Academic interests, esp. since 1991 SAR The 1965 Race Relations Act, which made discrimination in public places unlawful, but excluding employment and housing The 1968 Race Relations Act, which made it unlawful to ‘discriminate on grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins in recruitment, training, promotions, dismissals, and terms and conditions of employment’ (Layton- Henry, 1985) The 1976 Race Relations Act, which extended the definition of discrimination to include indirect discrimination The 2000 Race Relations (Amendment) Act, placing a general duty on public authorities to eliminate unlawful discrimination It is a government objective to eliminate discrimination. ‘Though it is nearly 40 years since the first Race Relations Act, it is clear that racial discrimination in the labour market still persists,’ says Tony Blair and he sets the goal ‘that in ten years’ time, ethnic minority groups should no longer face disproportionate barriers to accessing and realising opportunities for achievement in the labour market’ (Cabinet Office, 2003).

4 Distributions of Ethnic Groups in Britain 1972-2005

5 Ethnic distribution by year

6 The employment and occupational status: men aged 16-64

7 Defining generation and period

8 Time of arrival in Britain

9 Generational status of MEGs

10 Overall patterns of employment

11 Overall patterns of class















26 Main conclusions on labour market situations of men aged 16-2005 in Britain Among the invisible MEGs, Irish men were disadvantaged in the earlier period but caught up with the White British from the 1990s onwards, and the White Others almost always had favourable positions, in terms of access to the professional-managerial positions, avoiding the semi and unskilled manual jobs, and unemployment. The employment rates of the Irish men are still lower than those of the White British men in recent years, though. Among the visible MEGs, Black Africans were generally more likely to be in professional-managerial positions than the White British men, and the Indians showed no major differences from the White British. Black Caribbean and Pakistani/Bangladeshi men were less likely to be in the professional-managerial positions but the former were making much steady progress than the latter over the 34-year period. The last two groups were also more likely to face unemployment (and Black Africans in the 1990s, too) and to be in unskilled working class positions. Pakistani/Bangladeshi men were keen to take self-employment since early 1980s onwards and are now even more likely to be self-employed than the Chinese men. If both salariat and self-employment are counted, as in the conventional sense, as middle class groups, then Pakistani-Bangladeshi men are somewhat less disadvantaged than men of Black Caribbean origins. Black Caribbean and Pakistani/Bangladeshi men faced a lot of difficulties in the earlier period but were doing better in later periods. The 2 nd generation men from Black African, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origins were doing better than their 1 st generation counterparts in terms of gaining access to the professional-managerial positions. The overall pattern is one of convergence, whether we look at gaining access to the advantaged professional-managerial positions, or in avoidance of semi/unskilled working class positions or unemployment. This said, there are still marked differences between the MEGs and the White British men, especially in terms of employment rates. The overall balance of the data suggests that the White Others and Indians were the most successful groups in the labour market with the Black Caribbeans and Pakistani/Bangladeshis being disadvantaged. Even though several ethnic minority groups are still disadvantaged, there has been remarkable progress at reducing ethnic disadvantages in British society in the past 3 decades. The government Race Relations Acts (1965, 1968, 1976, 2000) seem to have had some notable impacts.

27 My writings on the labour market Li, Y. and Pollert, A. (2006) ‘The unorganized worker in WERS 2004: socio- demographic attributes, workplace characteristics and work-life experience’, research paper commissioned by DTI and RSS. Li, Y. (2005) ‘Exploring income differentials: a comparison between human and social capital approaches’, presentation at the ESDS Government Research Conference, British Academy, 4 Nov. 2005: Li, Y. (2005) ‘Social capital, ethnicity and the labour market’, Proceedings of International Conference on Engaging Community, Garrat, D. and Li, Y. (2005) ‘The foundations of experimental/empirical research methods’, in B. Somekh and C. Lewin (eds). Research Methods in the Social Sciences, London: Sage, pp: 198-206. Li, Y. and R. O’Leary (2004) ‘Progress in reducing Catholic disadvantages in Northern Ireland’, in Anthony Heath and Sin Yi Cheung (eds), Ethnic Differences across Countries, Oxford: OUP. Purdam, K. and Li, Y. with Brown, M. and Wathan, J. (2003) A profile of the housing and socio-economic circumstances of black and minority ethnic people in Wales, Cardiff: National Assembly of Wales. Li, Y. (2002) ‘Falling off the ladder? Professional and managerial career trajectories and unemployment experiences’, European Sociological Review, 18(3): 253-70. Li, Y., Bechhofer, F., McCrone, D., Anderson, M. and Stewart, R. (2002) ‘A Divided Working Class? Planning and Career Perception in the Service and Working Classes’, Work, Employment and Society, 16(4): 617-636.

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