New research shows that , despite coming from much less advantageous backgrounds, second-generation ethnic minorities in the UK have fared much better in education than their white classmates in recent years.
The study, conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, revealed that UK students with immigrant parents were more likely to achieve “great success” in education, especially when compared to ethnically diverse students in other European countries, although this academic success has not been reflected when it came to job offers after university.
“We should celebrate their remarkable success in education, but ask hard questions about why this does not translate into equal success in the world of work,” said Professor Lucinda Platt in response to the study. Platt, a professor at the London School of Economics, co-authored the report which gathered 40 years of UK census date in order to track academic success outcomes across generations.
“Attempts to oversimplify by putting poorer labor market performance down solely to less advantaged backgrounds on the one hand, or discrimination on the other, fail to recognize that both are relevant,” Platt added.
The report was published as part of the Deaton Review of Inequalities just days after the Confederation of British Industry, one of the UK’s largest business groups, co-signed a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson requesting mandatory reporting on ethnic pay gaps in the UK. The reporting called for by the Confederation would go beyond the measures put in place back in April by the government’s commission on race and ethnic disparities in the UK. The additional data gathered by the Confederation’s proposed reporting scheme would enable UK employers to “identify, consider and address” disparities faced by racial and ethnic minorities in the workplace.
The IFS report revealed that second-generation Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean individuals are all more likely to be highly education than their white classmates and co-workers. However, these individuals still face overall lower rates of employment despite their academic success. While ethnic minority students in the UK had similar likelihood of attaining professional or managerial careers, they were less likely to reap the same benefits that such positions typically produced for white workers.
According to Platt, the results of the study were “varied and complex” and should invite “further reflection on the processes that suppress social mobility even in the face of educational mobility and why these differ for men and women of the same ethnicity.”