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Summary: Ethnicity and Income and Poverty

MoneySummary: Ethnicity and Income and Poverty

  • People from minority ethnic (non-white) groups were more likely to be in poverty, both before and after housing costs, compared to those from the 'White - British' group (combined data for 2013/14 to 2015/16).
  • Before housing costs, 30% of people from minority ethnic (non-white) groups were in poverty, compared with 15% of ‘White – British’ people.
  • After housing costs, 35% of people from minority ethnic (non-white) groups were in poverty, compared with 18% of ‘White – British’ people.
  • Those in the Mixed, Black/Black-British and other group had the highest risk of poverty after housing costs, at 39%. This compares with 32% for Asian/Asian – British; 25% for White – other; and 18% for White British.


Ethnicity Infographic

Source: Income and Poverty – Main Analysis


  • People from minority ethnic groups were less likely to be coping financially and more likely to have no savings. 17% of those in minority ethnic groups were ‘not coping’ financially compared with around 11% for the white groups. 54% of minority ethnicity households had no savings, and a further 21% had savings of less than £1,500.

Source: Scottish Household Survey, 2009-10, as cited in The Position of Scotland’s Equality Groups. Revisiting Resilience in 2011


  • At Great Britain level: "Bangladeshi and Black African groups are positioned very low in the wealth distribution, as are the Pakistani, Black Caribbean and Chinese groups. When contrasted with their educational outcomes the Chinese population’s wealth levels are strikingly low, given that they perform extremely well in education compared to other ethnic minority groups. The Indian and White British groups are ranked close to the middle of the wealth distribution indicating no significant disadvantage relative to the wider population"

Source: Wealth and Assets Survey 2006-08, as cited in EHRC Triennial Review: How fair is Britain? Chapter 12: Standards of Living


  • At Great Britain level: "Some ethnic minorities are particularly likely to lack access to standard financial products, especially Pakistani and Bangladeshi women who are three times less likely than White men and women to have a bank account. The majority of Pakistani and Bangladeshi households do not have contents insurance. Some religious and ethnic groups may be excluded from credit by a lack of the availability of loans on terms that conform to their beliefs."

Source: Family Resources Survey 2007-08, as cited in EHRC Triennial Review: How fair is Britain? Chapter 12: Standards of Living


Area-based Deprivation

The chart below shows the proportion of people in each ethnic group who lived in Scotland's most deprived areas in 2011:

  • The 'White: British' group was slightly under-represented (14%) in deprived areas, as was the 'White: Irish' group (13%).
  • The 'White: Polish' group, however, was considerably over-represented, with almost a third of people from this group living in Scotland's most deprived areas.
  • The three most populous 'Asian' groups: 'Pakistani', 'Indian' and 'Chinese', were all under-represented, with people of Indian ethnicity the least likely to live in a deprived area (11%) compared to the population as a whole (15%).
  • The most over-represented ethnic group by some distance was 'African' - over one third of people with African ethnicity lived in a deprived area. Almost a quarter of people of 'Caribbean or Black' ethnicity lived in a deprived area.

A chart showing ethnic groups in Scotland by Deprivation

Source: Overview of Equality results from the 2011 Census Release 2 (2014)

In the chart below:

  • The 'White: Irish' group was under-represented in deprived deciles and recorded its highest proportion in the least deprived decile (13.4%).
  • The 'White: Other', 'Mixed or multiple' and 'Indian' groups had similar distributions - people of these ethnic groups were least likely to live in a deprived area. As the deciles become less deprived these groups became relatively more represented.
  • The 'Chinese' group had high representation in both the most and least deprived deciles. Over a quarter of the 'African' ethnic group lived in the most deprived decile and this group was over-represented in the three most deprived deciles. The 'Caribbean or Black' group was also over-represented in the most deprived deciles.

A chart showing ethnic group by deprivation decile in Scotland, 2011

Source: Overview of Equality results from the 2011 Census Release 2 (2014)


Pay Gap by Ethnicity

External research* by the Poverty Site showed that:

  • Almost half of all Bangladeshi and Pakistani employees earned less than £7 per hour. This was a much higher proportion than that for any other ethnic group.
  • Taking this indicator and the indicator on work and ethnicity together, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis had both the lowest work rates and, once in work, the highest likelihood of low pay.

Source: Poverty Site research using Labour Force Survey, ONS: the data is the average for 2008 to 2010, UK, and was updated in 2011.

*this research has been carried out independently of the Scottish Government and the findings do not necessarily represent the views of the Scottish Government or Scottish Ministers.


Useful Links

Ethnicity Page

Income and Poverty Page

National Performance Framework

National Performance Framework

Fifty National Indicators enable progress towards the achievement of the National Outcomes and ultimately the delivery of the Purpose to be tracked.

Indicators are chosen to show how the Scottish Government are progressing on the range of Outcomes.

National Indicator number 35: Reduce the proportion of individuals living in poverty, data table

- progress against this National Indicator, broken down by Ethnicity, can be found under the 'What more do we know about the National indicator?' heading.

Publications and Outputs



Scottish Household Survey and Family Resources Survey microdata is available (through a ‘special licence’ scheme) from the UK Data Archive.

External Links

External Links

Please note that you will leave the Scottish Government web site by clicking on any of the following links, and that the Scottish Government and its staff are not responsible for content external to this web site.

Intersecting Inequalities: The impact of austerity on BME women in the UK (October 2017) - A report by the Women's Budget Group and Runnymede Trust with RECLAIM and Coventry Women's Voices.  It contains the findings of an impact assessment looking at the impact that changes to public spending since 2010 have had for minority ethnic women.

Poverty and Social Exclusion survey - an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded UK survey of the dimensions of relative poverty. The Scottish Government has funded a rural boost of the Scottish sample to enable better analysis of this rich data source. Analysis of the Scottish results by the Heriot-Watt and Glasgow University partners in the project were published in 2013.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation - research by JRF, 'Poverty and ethnicity in Scotland. Review of the literature and datasets' (2011) reviews the links between poverty and ethnicity in Scotland.

Poverty Alliance

The Poverty Site - Includes information on Low Pay and Ethnicity

The Poverty Site, links to further analyses

Welsh Government 'An analysis on the impact of the UK Government's welfare reforms in Wales' (2013) - this paper focuses on those with protected equality characteristics.


Contact Details

If you have any enquiries relating to Equality and Poverty evidence then please contact us at:




0131 244 3004

We welcome any comments on both the format and content of the website, including any problems you may encounter.

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