The issue of why there are inequalities by ethnicity in the UK is a topic which runs all the way through the A level sociology syllabus. This post simply presents some sources which provide information on the extent of inequality in life chances by ethnicity in contemporary Britain.
As it stands, in 2017 it seems that:
- ethnic minorities are less likely to be offered places at Britain’s top universities
- ethnic minorities have higher rates of unemployment
- ethnic minorities are more likely to be arrested, charged, prosecuted and imprisoned.
Ethnic minorities are less likely to be offered places at Britain’s top universities
Russel Group universities are less likely to provide ethnic minorities with offers of a place, even when grades and ‘facilitating subjects’ have been controlled for.
White British students have the highest chance of being offered a place, with 52% of candidates receiving offers, while Black African students have the lowest chance, with only 35% of candidates receiving offers of places. (source: Manchester University Policy Blog, 2015) also see: (source: UCU research paper).
Oxford University has also been accused of being biased against Ethnic Minorities: according to Full Fact – in 2013 the Guardian revealed that only 17.2 percent of ethnic minority applicants were admitted to Oxford University, compared to 25.7 per cent of white applicants, and earlier this year (2017) MP David Lammy argued that this issue has not yet been addressed.
NB – It’s worth mentioning that the Russel Group universities, and Oxford University explain this away by saying that ethnic minority students are more likely to apply for more demanding courses for which they don’t necessarily have the grades, hence their higher rejection rate.
Ethnic minorities have higher unemployment rates
Ethnic Minorities are almost twice as likely to be unemployed compared to white people (source: ONS employment data)
In January – March 2017 the unemployment rate was 4.1% for white people compared to 7.9% for people from a BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) background.
There are significant variations by both specific ethnic and group and age: for example, Bangladeshi and Pakistani Britons have the highest unemployment rates relative to other ethnicity in all ages.
This difference is at least partially explained by the relatively high levels of unemployment among Pakistani and Bangladeshi females, which is significantly higher than male unemployment, a trend on found in these two ethnic groups.
Ethnic minorities are more likely to be charged for comparable offences
According to a recent study headed by David Lammy MP, ethnic minorities are more likely than white people to be arrested by the police, to be prosecuted by the CPS, and to be sentenced and jailed by judges and juries.
A Guardian article outlining the findings of the report (link above) notes that
‘Disproportional outcomes were particularly noticeable in certain categories of offences. For every 100 white women handed custodial sentences at crown courts for drug offences, the report found, 227 black women were sentenced to custody. For black men, the figure is 141 for every 100 white men.’
NB – It’s particularly interesting to note the disparities in sentencing for black women, suggesting a truly massive ‘intersectionality effect’
This is just a brief ‘update post’ providing links to some recent statistical evidence on ethnic inequalities across a range of topics in A-level sociology.
You should always question the VALIDITY of these statistics – the drug offences stats, for example, do not tell us the severity of offence. It may just be that all of those black women were caught smuggling drugs whereas white women are more likely to be caught ‘merely’ dealing them… not inconceivable!
Also, even if you accept that the stats have at least some validity, you’ll need to dig even deeper to deeper to find out why these inequalities in life chances by ethnicity still exist!