Second generation ethnic minorities make 'remarkable progress' in work

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Ethnic minorities have gained greater equality in the job market over the past 30 years, according to new research. Second generation minorities, especially men of black Caribbean, Indian and Pakistani heritage, are succeeding in ways their parents could only dream of, a study by Dr Yaojun Li, from Birmingham University, and Professor Anthony Heath, from Oxford University, found.

They are much more likely to gain access to professional and managerial jobs, according to the research, presented to the Royal Geographical Society's annual conference yesterday.

However, the fortunes of men of black African origins are still very polarised. Although now more likely to be in professional and managerial jobs than white British men, with a large proportion - about 40 per cent - holding these positions, they were also more likely to be unemployed with one in five being out of work.

Indian men are now just as likely as their white British counterparts to hold prestigious positions. But black Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi men were still less likely to achieve high status jobs, and were more likely to be unemployed and be in unskilled jobs than white British men.

"Even though several ethnic minority groups are still disadvantaged, there has been remarkable progress," Dr Li said. He said that through the 1980s and early 1990s, black Caribbean, black African, Pakistani and Bangladeshi men were consistently more likely to be unemployed. However, since the mid-1990s the differences had been significantly reduced.

The study examined data from the General Household survey and the Labour Force Survey for 34 consecutive years between 1972 and 2005. It analysed the working lives of five million people, including 450,000 from minority backgrounds.

The study also found Irish men had caught up in terms of winning professional or managerial posts, although employment rates of Irish men are still lower.

Pakistani and Banglad-eshi men have been increasingly likely to be self-employed since the early 1980s and are now even more likely to be self-employed than Chinese men.

Dr Li said the overall pattern is one of convergence, but that there are still marked differences between minority ethnic groups and white British men, especially in terms of employment rates.