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Conference Paper Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2015, 21-23 July 2015, University of Essex, Colchester, UK

Social mobility in 2nd generation ethnic minorities: the importance of neighbourhoods


Publication date

23 Jul 2015


This paper studies the effect of family background on ethnic minority
members’ success in the labour market, taking their neighbourhood
context into account. Ethnic minority members are often more educated
than the white British, regardless of their family background. This high
education does not translate itself into better labour market positions
however. This paper suggests that family background is supplemented by
social and ethnic capital in the neighbourhood. Stronger ethnic
communities may help in finding employment positions when the main
labour market is less hospitable. These contacts will lead to less
desirable jobs on average however. Own resources will matter more to
obtain high-skilled jobs, as contacts across ethnic boundaries are
needed. Parental resources affect their offspring’s outcomes but have to
be studied within the community context. This paper estimates
multilevel models on UK data to analyse how the importance of family
background depends on the ethnic composition and the average resources
in the community. We use Understanding Society to analyse this
longitudinally. This is supplemented with the Destinations of Leavers
From Higher Education (DLHE) survey to analyse the returns to higher
education for ethnic minorities in more detail. Preliminary results
indicate that the effect of parental education on the probability of
employment depends on the share of co-ethnics in the neighbourhood (at
MSOA level) and the educational resources of co-ethnics. The effects
differ by ethnicity, with neighbourhood resources adding to parental
resources for South-Asian and Chinese minorities while they aid
employment of black African /Caribbean minorities of less advantaged


Area Effects, Labour Market, Ethnic Groups, and Social Mobility



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