Crowd of people

The economics of race and ethnicity

The UK is increasingly ethnically diverse but substantial inequalities persist.

Funded by the ESRC, this programme of work investigates economic opportunities across racial and ethnic groups in the United Kingdom, focusing on five interlinked domains: identity, education, crime and justice, labour market, and wealth and inheritance.

The UK is increasingly ethnically diverse. There have been significant improvements in the economic, and especially educational, success of some ethnic minorities in recent years. But not all have shared in this success.  Substantial ethnic inequalities in multiple domains across the life course persist, and many continue across generations. The experience of minority groups has been quite different in terms of how far their economic outcomes have become similar to or different from the majority. There have been equally important differences within minority groups, between men and women and by social class background.

Even as the extent of ethnic inequalities is recognised to be of public and political salience, the causes and solutions remain contested. Despite an important body of existing qualitative and quantitative research from multiple disciplines, substantial gaps remain in knowledge and robust policy recommendations.

The ambition of this project is to establish new, authoritative and policy-relevant evidence and understanding in this contested area. We will do so by providing a detailed account of how ethnic economic inequalities emerge, evolve and are maintained across the life course at a level of detail and in ways not previously possible. We will use newly available administrative and linked data, tracking different life stages, alongside longitudinal survey data and primary data collection. Developing an integrated programme of work across domains allows robust conclusions to be drawn about what drives disadvantage for different ethnic groups, and for men and women and different social classes within groups.

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Related earlier work at IFS