Ethnic and migrant penalties in job quality in the UK: the role of residential concentration and occupational clustering

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2020


Migrants and ethnic minorities in the UK are found to be disadvantaged in their access to work and earnings, but little is known about the characteristics of the jobs they occupy. This paper studies whether migrants and UK-born ethnic minorities attain similar jobs compared to their white British peers by clustering 17 indicators of job quality – covering intrinsic quality, work-life balance, monetary rewards, and employment conditions – into 5 latent classes. We find that non-white migrants are clustered in the worst jobs, while white migrants do relatively well. UK-born ethnic minorities are indeed less likely to work on the best jobs, but the type of disadvantage differs strongly between ethnic groups. Local deprivation drives some of the worse job quality of UK-born minorities while selection into lower-quality occupations and sectors drives much of the disadvantage of migrants. Co-ethnic support and particularly an economically stronger co-ethnic community in the locality can help shield ethnic minorities from the worst jobs, while ethnic niches in the occupation are associated with low-quality work. Finally, working in migrant-heavy occupations is associated with somewhat lower job quality; primarily affecting other migrants in a possible race to the bottom.

Published in

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 46 , p.200 -221







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