Ethnic Minorities and Inequalities in UK Term Paper

Pages: 7 (1987 words)  ·  Style: Harvard  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Race

Ethnic Minorities and Inequalities in UK

Ethnic minorities in Britain have been subjected to the kind of hardships, discrimination and inequalities that minorities face everywhere in the world, in every country. With heavy immigration to Britain in four distinct periods: "1826-1919, 1919-1962, 1962-1971, and 1971 to the present" (Fraga: 23), the local public and the government have had to experience serious strain on resources, which breed contempt and racial inequalities. These inequalities also emerge due to the income differences experienced by immigrants. Since most people came from impoverished areas and were less educated than the locals, it took them a long time to gain a sound footing in the country. During this time, they took every kind of odd job available, which could only put them in the lower income groups. Even though through sheer determination and with self-employment, many people from ethnic minority groups finally gained economic independence, many of those who couldn't make it still had to face inequalities. These inequalities can be seen in the form of income differences, access to educational and employment opportunities and access to healthcare.

Immigration to the UK had not been regulated prior to 1826. "The king enjoyed a royal prerogative to expel any aliens who incurred his displeasure. Parliament had enacted a number of minor aliens acts, usually in time of war, that extended the state's power to deny entry to persons posing security threats, but these were quickly retracted after each emergency passed. The first serious peacetime legislation was embodied in the Aliens Act of 1826 and the Aliens Restriction Act of 1836, but even these laws were enforced only halfheartedly." (Fraga et al. 1992: p. 23)

While the government was initially reluctant to have ay laws regulating the influx of aliens in the country, it became a critical need when between 1875 and 1914 some 120,000 Jews entered Britain fearing persecution in Russia. This resulted in the implementation of Aliens Act of 1905, which allowed the government to restrict entry of any "undesirable" foreigner. The authority to expel or not allow entry lied in the hands of immigration officer at the port, which is largely the case in many countries even today. this was followed by Aliens Restriction Act in 1919. This act came into force after second wave of immigration and applied some conditions on entry. This law was followed for the longest period till 1971. Immigration was regulated but there were no serious concerns regarding the entry of foreigners. But once the Second World War ended, immigration to the UK took on a whole new dimension. With the arrival of immigrants from India and Pakistan, the immigration laws underwent some changes but the major legislation remained the same. These people were allowed entry easily and given the same citizenship status as any native Briton. "There was an estimated net immigration of only 2,000 New Commonwealth citizens (West Indians) in 1953, but by 1955 the number had grown to 42,650 (from India and Pakistan in addition to the West Indies) and remained at that level for three years." (Fraga et al. 25)

While immigration was increasing, there were no serious actions taken against entry of aliens till 1971 when 1971 Immigration Act was passed. It was the first law that refused to offer preferential status to foreigners from Commonwealth states and treated all aliens equally. This did not stop the influx of immigrants though it regulated immigration to a large extent. The new immigrants who came after 1971 were mostly relatives of the immigrants already settled in Britain. "There were only 5,800 dependents from the New Commonwealth admitted between July I and December 31, 1962. The number roughly tripled to 17,816 in 1963, rose to over 30,000 in 1965, reached a peak of 44,539 in 1967, and didn't fall below 17,000 annually until 1971." (Fraga: 26)

With immigration increasing, citizenship rights and laws were changed. Not everyone could now have British citizenship and there were three distinct categories of citizens established. Over the decades, while immigrants have come to occupy an immensely important place in the political, social and ethnic fabric of the UK, there are still many inequalities they encounter every day. These disparities accrue from various sources including inherent racism in Britain, lower education level of aliens; citizenship rights differences and religious/cultural differences.

Income Differences:

Most people have examined racial inequalities in the UK in terms of income differences. However income differences must also focus on the differences within ethnic groups. Not all minorities groups have faced similar problems while they have all been subjected to disparities. Secondly it is also important to see how ethnic minorities have fared in terms of building wealth and creating a safer future after retirement. Family level income is normally calculated to see how well an ethnic minority has done over the years. Family level income is the sub-total of individual incomes within a family. According to various reports, the minorities with highest family income are Chinese followed closely by Indian families. It must be remembered that Whites were the found to be the highest on income ladder. Interestingly while Indian families came after Chinese in income levels, the difference of income was still huge. Whites were higher paid but Chinese were very close to them on the income ladder. They upward mobility fo Chinese in the UK is a documented fact and this explains the closeness in income levels of Whites and Chinese. (Heath and McMahon 2000). Compared to the median family income of 310-pound sterling for Chinese and Whites, Indians came third with less than half of that income. They are certainly the highest paying in the lower bracket but fell far behind Chinese. Indians were still enjoying good position on the income level because of the fact that they have moved out of manual labor and have entered more professional arenas. Apart from that, Indian women are also rapidly entering the workforce and many married Indian women with children have taken up jobs reflecting the rise in education. (Modood et al. 1997).

Ethnic differences might also been seen in asset development and building. Whites hold more assets than all ethnic minorities. Whites are followed by Chinese in asset building while Indians and people from sub-continent fall farther below. (Penn, 2000)

It must also be noted that employment differences are also very common. Ethnic minorities do not enjoy the same access to high paying jobs as Whites do. The percentage of participation in managerial and professional jobs is given below:

in professional and managerial posts 1992-2000: men

Ethnic group 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000

White 23-24 24-25 25-25 26-26 27

Black-Caribbean8 10-11 10-11 12-13 14

Black-African 17-11 18-18 22-17 19-27 26

Indian 25-22 21-25 27-30 28-28 28

Pakistani 13-11 12-12 12-13 14-15 14

Bangladeshi 6-7 8-7 7-7-9-13 17

Chinese 26-22 18-26 22-27 28-22 43

Source: Labor Force Surveys.

Ethnic inequalities in Healthcare

Healthcare is an important sector and serious inequalities have been witnessed in this area. People of various ethnic backgrounds are generally subjected to poorer healthcare and lower quality of service. The government is beginning to understand that a deep gap exists in healthcare sector and to close this gap, policy efforts are required. This had resulted in Race Relations Act of 2000 after which NHS and other agencies were urged to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination." It was also urged that every policy hence made must try to remove disparities accruing from racial and ethnic differences. Government has gradually woken up to the need for a better healthcare system where racial and ethnic inequalities would be considerably redcued. The healthcare system in the UK had not been developed to serve the diverse population since diversity is a relatively new term for UK:

Diversity is a fairly new word in Britain. Prior to recognition of diversity, the idea was that some services for black and minority ethnic groups could be provided, but the quality of services and whether they reached the population was not an issue. When black and minority ethnic groups raised the issue of services not reaching them, the standard answer was, "but we are providing the services of a link worker or an advocate and we are meeting your religious and cultural needs." (Bahl, 2001)

While diversity is a new term, immigrants and aliens are not. The government and NHS have identified critical areas of improvement in service for immigrant population and people from various ethnic backgrounds. The need for improvement has been recognized as a report explained:

The Government's 'Health of the Nation' report produced in 1993 by the Department of Health identifies key areas, including cancer, where improvements in mortality and morbidity could be achieved, and an essential element relates to the needs of black and minority ethnic people. It is, for example, now well recognized that in terms of screening, treatment and palliation, cancer services are not always accessible and sensitive to the needs of this section of the population." (Aldous: 1999)… [END OF PREVIEW]

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