Health, Work and Wellbeing Network

Bringing together people interested in health, work and wellbeing research

Researchers: Professor Anthony Heath Nuffield College, Cambridge University; Dr Sin Yi Cheung, University of Birmingham
Funder: British Academy
Date: Completed 2006


  • Review the current position of ethnic minorities in Britain’s labour market
  • Explore how ethnic minority representation and achievement varies by different employer characteristics
  • Establish how far these variations might be linked to discrimination in the workplace

Design: Statistical analysis of large data sets including the Labour Force Survey, the General Household Survey, the Sample of Anonymised Records from the 2001 Census, the British Social Attitudes Survey and the Home Office Citizenship Survey. Outcomes included: labour force participation, unemployment, occupation and earnings. Analysis of employment penalties faced by ethnic minorities for these outcomes and how variations in employer characteristics affect the employment penalties experienced by ethnic minorities including size of organisation, whether in the public or private sector and industry. Finally the levels of self-reported unequal treatment by ethnic minorities and prejudice by white workers and managers are studied. In addition to the analysis the implications for policy were outlined.


Heath, A.F. and Cheung, S.Y. (2006) Ethnic Penalties in the Labour Market: Employer and Discrimination. Department for Work and Pensions Research Report No. 341