Ethnic inequalities under New Labour: progress or entrenchment?

Coretta Phillips

in A more equal society?

Published by Policy Press

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9781861345783
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301394 | DOI:
Ethnic inequalities under New Labour: progress or entrenchment?

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  • Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility


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This chapter examines ethnic inequalities under New Labour. When the party was elected to government in 1997, it inherited a legacy of ethnic inequalities in housing, education, employment, health, and criminal justice outcomes. In the early research evidence from the First Survey of Ethnic Minorities, racialised disadvantage and discrimination in the lives of all minority groups were prevalent in the mid-1960s. Since the 1970s, however, while the broad pattern of ethnic inequalities has persisted, there has also been considerable differentiation, with those of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin, and to a lesser extent those of black origin, generally faring worse than those of Indian and Chinese origin. While the earlier period provided evidence of direct and indirect racial discrimination, the intervening years revealed that a complex interplay of socioeconomic, institutional, demographic, structural, and cultural factors was contributing to less favourable outcomes for minority groups. To counter discrimination and ethnic inequalities, New Labour adopted policies that aimed to promote race equality. One of these is the 2000 Race Relations Act, which tasked all authorities with promoting equality of opportunity and good relations between different racial groups and with auditing existing policies to see whether they had different implications for different ethnic groups. This chapter examines the impact of these policies on long-standing inequalities in education, policing, and employment. It also assesses the New Labour strategies to reduce ethnic inequalities as well as providing some thoughts on where further policy developments are required.

Keywords: ethnic inequalities; inequalities; racialised disadvantage; discrimination; minority groups; race equality; Race Relations Act; ethnic groups; policies

Chapter.  7265 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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