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  • Author or Editor: Saffron Karlsen x
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Previous assessments of poverty and social exclusion in the UK show variations in the social position of people with different ethnic backgrounds. While many minority groups experience significant disadvantage compared with the white majority, this is found to be particularly persistent among Pakistani and Bangladeshi people. However, this previous work is less than comprehensive in its coverage of the ethnic minority population. There are also concerns that standard measures of socioeconomic status fail to account for some of the specific experiences of ethnic minority groups and as a consequence underestimate the prevalence of socioeconomic disadvantage among them. The Poverty and Social Exclusion UK 2012 survey enables us to look at groups often ignored in analyses of ethnic inequalities, such as white minority groups and more recent migrants. Our findings therefore make a valuable contribution to this existing evidence, drawing attention to the particular disadvantage experienced by Black African and Polish people. The more detailed markers employed here reveal additional dimensions of disadvantage than have generally been explored previously and through this the significant disadvantage experienced by other groups – such as Black Caribbean people – as well as the heterogeneity within particular ethnic groups, which have been unappreciated in previous work.

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There is compelling evidence regarding the health disadvantage experienced by many, although not all, people from minority ethnic groups living in the UK (see Nazroo, 2001; Sproston and Mindell, 2006; Bécares, 2015), Europe and elsewhere, including the USA (Williams, 2001), Latin America (Pan American Health Organization, 2001), South Africa (Sidiropoulos et al, 1997), Australia (McLennan and Madden, 1999) and New Zealand (Harris et al, 2006). This disadvantage persists for adults and children (Panico and Kelly, 2007), and across many indicators of morbidity and mortality (Salway et al, 2010).

Table 8.1 presents ethnic inequalities in a range of health indicators using data from the Health Survey for England (HSE) 2004 (Sproston and Mindell, 2006). Despite being over a decade old – and with no comparable data collected since – HSE 2004 remains the most comprehensive source with which to examine the health of different ethnic populations in England. For example, the ‘Ethnicity Facts and Figures’ website ( presents the latest government data available with which to examine these issues, but no information on ethnic variations in physical health. Table 8.1 compares the likelihood of people with different ethnicities experiencing different forms of poor health, with the relative likelihood, or risk, of experiencing poor health among the wider (or general) population. The risk of the general population is set at 1 to make it easier to establish the differences between the groups. Those groups that have a risk greater than 1 have a risk of poor health greater than that of the general population, while those with risks below 1 have a risk of poor health lower than that of the general population.

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