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Black and Asian Brits earning up to 42% less than white workers

People walk through the Canary Wharf, the business and financial district in London, Britain, September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs
'Evidence of discrimination in the labour market is clear, and wealth inequalities are likely to prove especially hard to shift,' said Heidi Safia Mirza, from the UCL Institute of Education. Photo: Kevin Coombs/Reuters

UK ethnic minorities continue to earn less than their white counterparts as evidence of discrimination against Black and Asian Brits in the labour market remains clear, a think tank has said.

Median weekly earnings among employees for Black Caribbean men were 13% below white British men in 2019, with Pakistani and Bangladeshi pay 22% and 42% lower, respectively, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has revealed.

The study for the IFS Deaton Review of Inequalities, funded by the Nuffield Foundation also showed that only 2% of Black African households were in the wealthiest fifth of UK households pre-pandemic, while more than half were in the least wealthy fifth.

In England, most of the largest minority ethnic groups are at least as likely to obtain as good English and Maths GCSEs as White British students.

Mark Franks from the Nuffield Foundation said: "There are large and persistent income and wealth gaps between different ethnic groups in the UK. Children from Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black African and Caribbean heritage, are significantly more likely to grow up living in poverty than the white majority.

Read more: Rising asset wealth coupled with falling wages fuelling inequality across the UK

“Financial stress from not having an adequate income or work, reverberates through family life, with a range of consequences, including poorer mental health outcomes.”

The study also said that it is a mistake to lump all ethnic minority groups together.

For example, nearly one in four people of Indian ethnicity are among the highest income fifth of the population — more than is the case for white British. Meanwhile, fewer than one in 20 of those from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds are in this top income quintile.

Earnings among Indian men were also 13% higher than white British men.

The rate of change in educational performance for some groups has also improved.

Just 15 years ago, Bangladeshi pupils were 10 percentage points less likely than white British to obtain good Maths and English GCSEs. They are now five percentage points more likely to do so. Black African and Pakistani pupils have also largely closed the gap with white pupils.

Read more: Hundreds of thousands of black and minority ethnic employees victims of racism at work

However, Black Caribbean pupils have fallen further behind.

Heidi Safia Mirza, from the UCL Institute of Education, said: “Most ethnic minority groups in the UK are doing better than they were and are doing particularly well in education.

“On the other hand, most continue to earn less than their white British counterparts, and all earn less on average than we would expect given their education, background and occupation.

“Evidence of discrimination in the labour market is clear, and wealth inequalities are likely to prove especially hard to shift.”

The fraction of the population in England and Wales from ethnic groups other than White more than doubled to 14% between 1991 and 2011.

Watch: How stop and search in the UK is failing black people