Employment & Economy

The Colour of Money

Written by:
Omar Khan
Read time:

Shocking levels of economic and racial inequality in Britain are revealed in The Colour of Money.

For example, Black African and Bangladeshi households have 10 times less wealth than White British people.

Recommendations from the report include include strengthening discrimination law, as well as the need for targeted policies to tackle longstanding inequalities, and for ensuring racial inequalities are considered in thinking about how to design a fairer, more resilient economy.

The report covers the following areas, in which significant racial inequality is found:


Black and minority ethnic (BME) people generally have much lower levels of savings or assets than White British people.

Indian households have 90–95p for every £1 of White British wealth, Pakistani households have around 50p, Black Caribbean around 20p, and Black African and Bangladeshi approximately 10p.

White British households hold the most wealth (£282,000), closely followed by Indian groups (£266,000). Pakistani households have under half (£127,000) the wealth of White British households, with Black Caribbean households possessing substantially less.


Poverty rates vary significant by ethnicity, but all BME groups are more likely to be living in poverty. For Indians the rate is 22%, for Mixed its 28%; Chinese 29%; Bangladeshi 45% and Pakistani 46%. This is due to lower wages, higher unemployment rates, higher rates of part-time working, higher housing costs in England’s large cities (especially London), and slightly larger household size.

Around 18% of Bangladeshi workers, 11% of Pakistani and Chinese workers, and 5% of Black African and Indian workers are paid below the National Minimum Wage, compared to 3% of white workers.


Indian and Chinese pupils are doing better than White British pupils, while Black Caribbean and (especially) Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils doing much worse.

While BME people are more likely to have a university degree, the monetary value of that qualification is worth less in the labour market, with nearly 40% of Black African graduates in non-graduate jobs, (nearly double the White British rate of 20%).


Black and minority ethnic men have much higher unemployment rates than White British men.

There remains significant evidence of discrimination in the labour market from CV studies, while studies also show that the ‘ethnic penalty’ remains even when considering educational qualifications and other factors.  Even recent Russell Group BME graduates have a higher risk of being unemployed than their White counterparts.

Nearly one in three Bangladeshi men work in catering, restaurants and related businesses compared to around one in 100 White British men. And while one in 100 White British men work in taxi, chauffeuring and related businesses, the figure for Pakistani men is around one in seven.

BME workers are more likely to participate in the ‘gig’ economy – up to 25% compared to 14% of the general population.

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