Job prospects for ethnic minorities continue to lag behind those for their white counterparts because of “persistent racism” at a “societal level,” according to a new study.
The study, due to be published by the British Sociological Association, compared the latest census data to equivalent figures from 1971 and found that most ethnic minorities still experience “indisputable” socio-economic disadvantage in employment opportunities.
Researchers analysed employment data for more than 70,000 people in England and Wales, comparing results from seven ethnic minority groups including Bangladeshi, black African, black Caribbean, Chinese, Indian, Irish and Pakistani, to their white counterparts.
Comparing the data from 1971 to Office for National Statistics data from the latest census in 2011, the study found that most ethnic minority groups were still more likely either to be in manual work, unemployed or off sick.
Study researcher Dr Saffron Karlsen, from Bristol University, said: “The evidence for the socio-economic disadvantage experienced by most, although not all, people with ethnic minority backgrounds in England and Wales compared with the ethnic majority is indisputable.”
According to the study, which is due to be published in the journal Sociology, the most disadvantaged groups were Bangladeshi and Pakistani men and women, who in 2011 were 50% and 30% more likely to be in manual work than their white counterparts.
Women of Bangladeshi, black Caribbean, black African and Pakistani ethnicity were between 1.6 and more than five times more likely to be unemployed or off sick than white women, the study found.
Dr Karlsen added: “These findings would appear in keeping with work exposing the ethnic penalty which continues to affect the access of minority groups to employment... and the ways in which persistent racism limits access to positive socioeconomic outcomes including social mobility.
“There is sufficient consistency to suggest that this is a problem produced and perpetuated at the societal level.
“Addressing these inequalities will not be resolved by a focus on particular individuals or cultures and their perceived limitations, rather the focus should be racism, discrimination and their consequences.”
But the study did register some improvements in the gap between job prospects.
In 1971, men in six of the seven ethnic minority groups were more likely to be in a manual job than white men - a figure that fell to four groups in the 2011.
For women six of the seven ethnic minority groups were more likely to be in a manual job than white women almost half a century ago, a figure that fell to four groups in the 2011.
However, when it came to rates of unemployment or sickness, there was a rise in the number of ethnic minority groups for whom men had a rate of unemployment or sickness higher than that of their white counterparts.