Disadvantages Of Ethnic Minorities Essay, Research Paper
DISADVANTAGED ETHNIC MINORITIESHOUSING & EMPLOYMENT In this essay it is my intention to show with the aid of statistical data that on the whole ethnic minorities are disadvantaged within British society with a particular focus on the areas of housing provision and standards, and employment levels. Despite a society legally committed to promoting greater equality through the Race Relation Act 1976, I shall attempt to show possible causes for this continuing disadvantage although constraints on this essay will allow for only a superficial glance at what is otherwise a very complex set of issues. When first immigration began to occur, new arrivals had little choice but to occupy those properties at the lower end of the housing market and thus often ended up in inferior private rental properties or in cheap, purchased inner city terraced housing that were being vacated by an ever growing number of suburbanizing whites. Ethnic clusters began to emerge in the inner cities beginning a pattern of segregation and inequality brought about by immigrant poverty, ignorance of the housing market in their new host country, blatant discrimination in some cases, as well as cultural factors such as the desire to live in groups for social reasons. Changes in patterns have occurred with the passing of the years and by looking at the figures in Table 1 (based on information from the 1991 Census) , it is clear to see that improvements in some areas of housing tenure have happened, whilst what is also apparent are some remaining patterns of disadvantage especially along racial lines. Home ownership rates have significantly increased in the post war period, rising from only a quarter of households being owner-occupiers in 1945, to a figure of 66% by 1991. Home ownership is very differentiated between ethnic groups with Indians (82%) and then Pakistanis (77%) showing the higher numbers of owner-occupation figures, higher even than whites. At the lower end of the scale sees the Bangladeshi community (44%) and lowest rates of all being the Black African groups at just 28 per cent. Table 1Tenure by ethnic group of head of household, Great Britain, 1991 1Source:1991 Census, Housing & Availability of Cars, Topic Report Table 15(OPCS/GRO, 1993) It would seem therefore that although sections of ethnic groups have lower owner-occupation rates than the mainly white population of Great Britain, some Asian groups appear more likely to become home-owners. However, what the census statistics do not show are the differences in housing quality, age of property and density of occupation between the different groups and it is there that areas of disadvantage are still apparent. Of all the ethnic minority groups, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis live in the most deprived housing conditions in the worst areas, and are characterized by high levels of overcrowding perhaps due in part to the tendency to have larger than average families (figure 2). In general white families have more space than ethnic households with approximately 6% of white households having over one person per room, as compared to 22% for Indians and 43% for Pakistani or Bangladeshi homes. Similarly, on other measures of relative deprivation such as households without exclusive use of a bath or toilet, or with no central heating, the Bangladeshi and Pakistani households rated far more highly than other ethnic groups. Figure 2:Average number of persons per household in Gt Britain by ethnic group (adapted from LFS 1985-7) For those people not able to own their own property, the alternative has to be a rental property whether that be in the private market or supplied by local authority or housing associations. The 1980 s saw a government policy of reducing the role of local authorities in the provision of rental properties with the ending of new building and the sale of existing council houses to tenants who qualified, thus leaving the provision of such homes to housing associations or private rental. The effect of these measures has been a shortage in the supply of rental housing leading to a rise in the numbers of homeless persons. By looking at the Table Figure 1 it can be seen that the ethnic minority groups most likely to live in council housing are the Black Africans, Black Caribbeans and Bangladeshis, and who also feature to a greater degree than average in Housing Association rentals. Shortages of property and rent rises on newer rental homes has had the effect of increasing the numbers of people living in these homes who are in receipt of housing benefit and forcing them into a poverty trap whereby it is not possible to be able to afford to work and earn enough to maintain rental payments, without the aid of benefits. This is likely to affect to a greater degree those ethnic minorities who suffer from higher than average degrees of unemployment such as the Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. The shortages in supply has also meant that increasing proportions of the homes have gone to the statutorily homeless, with black households more likely than white to become so.
The need for some authorities, especially so in the more run-down inner city areas, to fill their less desirable, more difficult to let accommodation has in some cases resulted in these being offered on a one time only basis to the homeless thus providing lower standard accommodation to a section of society that is already disadvantaged and in which greater proportions of ethnic minorities are likely to be found as compared to whites. The rebuilding of the post-war British economy created a demand for a labour force that outstripped the home supply and so, much of the initial migration to this country was driven by a need to fill vacancies especially in the lower end of the market place with low paid manual jobs. Figure 3: Labour force participation rates by ethnic group 1988-90All working age 16-59/64 (source1988,1989,1990 Labour Force Surveys) *************************** Figure 3 shows that labour force participation rates are generally much higher for men than for women although activity rates are still somewhat decreased for certain ethnic minorities such as African, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese men, and to an even greater extent for Bangladeshi and Pakistani women whose participation rates are as low as 23%. This low rate is likely to reflect the cultural value placed upon these women remaining in the family home and raising children, together with the larger than average family size. However this also serves to economically disadvantage this group financially and further compound the inequalities in earning potential and levels of employment that can be experienced.An investigation conducted in 1986 on behalf of the Observer newspaper into middle management in Britain found that many national and multinational companies such as the Bank of England, British Gas and British Airways did not keep records regarding black recruitment or career advancement. “Many employers still discriminate racially at interviews and blacks are often dissuaded from applying for jobs with organisations which have an overwhelmingly white image When it comes to recruiting for middle management jobs, word-of-mouth announcements or internal advertising can also exclude blacks.” Observer 2/11/86 Despite legislation promoting equal opportunity and outlawing discrimination on the grounds of race, surveys of employment patterns in the civil service highlighted some alarming discrepancies. In 1989 figures for posts in the top seven civil service grades showed that of the 18,644 current positions, only 207 of them were occupied by people from ethnic minorities. Similarly surveys have shown lower than expected levels compared to population, of ethnic minority representation in the armed forces, police service and even the Church of England.An analysis of earnings capacity also tell a similar tale with the average earnings for ethnic minority men being below that of whites with Pakistanis and Bangladeshis average earnings being a third or more below whites. Discrimination is undoubtedly still present within our society although it has possibly become more covert with the advent of the Race Relations Acts, and can take the form of both direct and/or indirect discrimination. Studies have shown evidence of institutional racism continuing whereby black applicants for rental housing can often wait longer periods of time than whites before being offered a home, and then receiving inferior accommodation. Indirect discrimination can take place simply due to the fact that on average certain ethnic minority groups tend to have larger families and therefore need larger houses, a requirement that is more difficult to meet and becoming even more so as stocks of council housing diminish. In 1990 a report was published by the Commission for Racial Equality following an investigation into an estate agent in Oldham. It was found that the firm tended to recommend white areas to prospective white clients and Asian areas to Asian clients. It was also found to accept instructions from white vendors to deter any Asian purchasers that might show an interest. The CRE believed that this practice was probably not uncommon with two other Oldham estate agents being found to operate in a similar way. The ethnic population of Great Britain in the 1980 s reached over 2 million people with around half of them actually being born in Britain and therefore not suffering the disadvantages of being new arrivals in a strange land. Laws against discrimination in employment and housing have been in place for some time now but although there is some evidence that the positions of some ethnic minorities have improved in terms of housing and employment, it is still evident that they do not as yet share the same experience as the white population and that imbalances continue to exist. Heightened public awareness regarding racism and legislation has had the effect of greatly diminishing overt discrimination, however, it does still take place and is sometimes compounded by institutional practices.