Census shows ‘Huge’ variation in housing and education among ethnic groups in the UK
London — New census data has revealed significant variations in home-ownership, health, and educational qualification levels across ethnic groups in England and Wales. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published the results in stages from the March 2021 census. The data shows that people identifying as black African or Caribbean have some of the lowest home-ownership levels, but are among the highest for social rented housing. Meanwhile, over half of those identifying as Chinese or Indian have high-level qualifications, such as a degree, compared to under a third of the white British group. The white Irish and white Gypsy or Irish Traveller groups have the poorest levels of health.
The census asked participants to indicate which group best describes their ethnic identity, along with questions on housing, education, and health. Around 17% of the population in England and Wales live in social rented housing, but there is a “huge” variation among different groups. The ONS found that 44% of people identifying as African, 41% identifying as Caribbean, and 48% identifying as “other black” live in social rented accommodation, higher than almost every other group, including white Irish (14%), Pakistani (13%), Chinese (8%), and Indian (5%).
Home-ownership is most common for people identifying as Indian (71%) and the white UK group (68%). The black African (23%) and “other black” groups (29%) have the lowest levels, while 42% of people identifying as black Caribbean own their own homes.
Over a third (34%) of people aged 16 or over have a higher-level qualification, such as a degree or NVQ level 4 to 5, but this figure jumps to more than half for people identifying as Chinese or Indian (56% and 52% respectively), African (49%), and Arab (46%) groups. Those who identify as white Gypsy or Irish Traveller have the lowest proportion of people with a higher-level qualification (11%) and are also most likely to have no formal qualifications (57%).
The census also asked people to rate their health from “very good”, “good”, “fair”, “bad” or “very bad”. Across the whole population of England and Wales, nearly half (48%) said they had “very good” health, while 1% said they had “very bad” health. People who identified as white Gypsy or Irish Traveller had the highest percentage of those saying their health was very bad at 4%, with a further 9% saying their health was bad. Among the white Irish group, 2% said their health was very bad and 6% bad.
“Health is closely related to age, with older people being more likely to say they are in poorer health,” the ONS found. “However, the poorer health of people identifying as white Gypsy or Irish Traveller is not explained by age, because people in this ethnic group are generally young. The average age for this ethnic group is just 28 years.” The highest levels of very good health are among people in the “mixed or multiple ethnic group” of “white and Asian” (67%) and people who identify as black African (65%). (PA/Agencies)