Britons with a Bangladeshi background typically earn 20 per cent less than whites. But those with Indian heritage are likely to earn 12 per cent more. For black Britons, it’s 9 per cent less; for Chinese, 30 per cent more. It’s hard to put these differences down to systemic discrimination based on skin colour…
Admissions to university – a useful proxy for future life chances – also offer a fascinating insight. The average 18-year-old English applicant has a 35 per cent chance of going – but it’s 50 per cent for those categorised as Asian and an almighty 68 per cent for Chinese.
Black students, as a whole, do better than the national average. The ethnic group least likely to go, with a 30 per cent entry rate, are whites. You tend not to hear that figure, because so much of England’s public debate about higher education tends to be driven by an obsession about who gets into Oxbridge.
Deploring racism is important, but not difficult. It is far harder to look into the huge disparities between the ethnic groups and ask what explains them. More dangerous still is to ask whether culture or family structure might play a role.
The hot potato that no politician wants to handle is the shocking underachievement of poor white boys: they do worse academically than any other group.