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Research into racial inequalities using the UK Data Service can help drive equality and policy reform

The disproportionate number of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people dying from Covid19 across both the UK and USA, alongside the unlawful killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, has galvanised the world into action and education through a resurgence in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Evidence-based research into racial inequalities has the potential to support and drive policy development and reform that will help bring ethnic or racial equality across the UK and beyond. The UK Data Service provides access to much of the key data, studies and surveys that provide researchers with greater insights into racism and racial prejudice in the UK.

At both local and national levels, this information is vital in building a picture of the circumstances of ethnic minority populations and their relationships to the ethnic majority population.

The Ethnic Minority Young People: Differential Treatment in the Youth Justice System, 2006 study examines how teenagers are treated by the youth justice system in the UK. The survey highlights how there are clear patterns of under- and over-representation of ethnic minority groups. Black and mixed race teenagers are over-represented, relative to their representation in the overall population, whilst other minority groups are not generally over-represented and some are under-represented.

For researchers looking to explore the wider issues of racial attitudes, ethnicity and inequality, the UK Data Service collection holds a host of key data.  NatCen’s 2017 report on racial prejudice in Britain today, used the British Social Attitudes Survey – a series run in most years since 1983, designed to produce annual measures of attitudinal movements in Great Britain.

In the context of ongoing policy concern and debate around issues of ethnic diversity, integration, immigration and inequality, one of our case studies highlights how Stephen Jivraj looked at ethnicity and deprivation in England using ethnicity and related data from the 2011 Census to address policy issues.

Aiming to transform our understanding of the contemporary patterning of ethnic inequalities, this research has been presented in a series of briefings using Census data, and in particular, found that all ethnic minority groups in England are more likely to live in deprived neighbourhoods than the white British majority.  In 2011, more than one in three in the Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups lived in a deprived neighbourhood, which is considerably more than any other ethnic group. There is considerably regional variation in the proportion that live in a deprived neighbourhood. The difference between ethnic groups is greatest in the Midlands and smallest in the South.

Other relevant datasets include the British Integration Survey, 2019, which collected data on levels of diversity in respondents’ networks, their interactions with people from different backgrounds, and attitudes towards different social groups.  Whilst the British Election Study Ethnic Minority Survey, 2010 is an investigation of the political views and behaviours of Britain’s ethnic minority populations.

For how attitudes to race tie-in with Brexit, researchers might want to look at The Brexit as a Social Cleavage: Attitudes to Immigration and Race in Britain, 2018 study. It uses a British Election Study online panel sub- sample to ask about attitudes towards ethnic minorities, racist behaviours, immigrants, and people who voted for Leave and Remain in the Brexit referendum.

Our Ethnicity theme pages highlight further data, research and studies that can be used to examine ethnic inequalities across the UK.  Within this broader subject, we endeavour to bring together more research, case studies and information that can support reform and policy development to drive racial equality.  Researchers can also search more generally for key terms within the UK Data Service data catalogue.