Ethnic spatial inequalities

This research was undertaken by researchers at the European University Institute and the London School of Economics using administrative data made available via the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS), which is being expanded and improved with ADR UK funding.

This research examined the interaction of inequalities related to ethnicity, social origins and neighbourhood composition on labour market outcomes using the ONS Longitudinal Study, aggregated UK Census data at the Ward level and Carstairs deprivation at the Ward level (Norman and Boyle 2014), made available by ONS. It resulted in the publication of two separate papers.

The first focused on the role co-ethnic concentration in childhood plays on second-generation labour market opportunities in adulthood (2016). It found that, given equality of individual and social origin characteristics, as well as levels of neighbourhood deprivation, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women raised in areas with the highest co-ethnic concentration are between 11-13 percentage points less likely to be in employment. Furthermore, there was a positive effect of co-ethnic concentration for Indian men.

The second explored second-generation ethnic minorities’ spatial outcomes in adulthood (i.e. their probabilities of residing in less diverse and less deprived neighbourhoods), given individual, social origin and childhood neighbourhood characteristics (2019). It discovered that there were persistent spatial inequalities between white British individuals and second-generation ethnic minorities in England and Wales. In addition, the share of second-generation ethnic minorities who reside, as adults, in less ethnically concentrated and less deprived neighbourhoods is much smaller compared to that of white British individuals.

This research feeds into the UK's policy agenda of fostering the equality of opportunities across ethnic groups and with neighbourhood integration. By linking individuals’ outcomes to the concentration of co-ethnics in their neighbourhood when growing up, the research is able to provide a new explanation of ethnic inequality that had yet to be addressed. It suggests that ethnic spatial segregation is, in part, the product of time-persisting ethnic inequalities in access to neighbourhoods and that these inequalities are conditioned both by childhood and adult resources.

The research highlights that in the development of a more effective social mobility policy for minorities, the impact of neighbourhood ethnic segregation and the long-term dynamics behind the production and reproduction of ethnic spatial inequalities must be taken into account.

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