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Britain is a more unequal society than America

Britain has significantly higher unemployment among black people and the young than America because de-industrialisation and a flexible labour market have created a more unequal society, research says.

 

The British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Leeds heard that during the last three recessions unemployment among black British men was up to 19% higher than among those in America.

Between recessions the figures for UK unemployment among black people were higher than in the US, although the gap had narrowed over the past few years.

Professor Yaojun Li, of the University of Manchester, told the conference: “Overall, there is greater ethnic inequality in Britain than in the USA for both sexes.

“This gives a fairly strong indication that the flexible labour market policies adopted in Britain in the last few decades did not protect the minority ethnic groups against the repercussions of recessions.”

He believed that it was America’s affirmative action programme and federal procurement policy, requiring public institutions to have staff compositions representative of the population, that had helped reduce the unemployment rate among black people there.

Professor Li also found that Great Britain was a more unequal society than the US. Unemployment rates in 2011 varied from 6% among men aged over 50 to 21% among 16 to 24-year-old men, a gap of 15 percentage points. In the US they varied from 8% to 20%, a 12 percentage point gap. Among women the gap was 14% for Britain and 8% for the US.

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