Occupational segregation and patterns of employment and disadvantage among ethnic groups in England and Wales

Louisa Blackwell and Daniel Guinea, Office for National Statistics

[Project number 20083]

This study is a continuation of research on occupational segregation undertaken by Louisa Blackwell in the late 1990s. Using a 10 per cent sample of the 1991 Census, Blackwell studied the tendency for women and men from different ethnic groups to work in separate occupations. Blackwell also researched the role that women's part-time work played in the English and Welsh labour market from the 1950s to the 1990s, and whether gender and ethnicity combine to create cumulative disadvantage in employment.

The project will compare the 1991 results, based on a 10 per cent sample, with results from 100 per cent 2001 Census. The 1990s is a decade of particular interest because a) for the first time male part-time employment grew in considerable proportions and b) the second, UK-born, generation of minority ethnic groups has entered the labour market.

The proposed LS-based research will show how changes in economic activity, occupation and the ethnicity of individuals between Censuses help us to interpret trends in occupational segregation and disadvantage displayed in cross-sectional data.

LS data will be used in various ways that will help contextualise and qualify the cross-sectional findings:

1. The LS will allow examination of different degrees of permanence in England and Wales by ethnic groups. This will help determine whether the changes in occupational segregation are likely to have taken place because the same people are doing different jobs or, rather, there are new people doing new jobs. Furthermore, it might be that people who appear to be doing different jobs in 2001 as compared with 1991, were actually doing the same job that was recorded differently by the occupational classifications used at each Census. In this latter respect, the LS will allow comparison of SOC90 with SOC2000 in a way analogous to the comparison between the ethnicity variable in 1991 and in 2002, which has already been carried out by Ludi Simpson and Bola Akinwale. The results of this comparison of coding schemes will complement the work of the Occupational Information Unit at ONS.

2. The LS will allow a number of case studies of the occupational transitions from 1991 to 2001 of particular groups of workers with key similarities and differences (e.g. Bangladeshi and Chinese male workers; Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi sewers).

3. The LS will allow a focused study of women's occupational transitions around childbearing by ethnic group.

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