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‘Deeply entrenched’ inequalities for BAME people in their 50s and 60s

Written by on 18/08/2020

Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in their 50s and 60s are more likely to be poorer, less likely to have retired and less likely to own their home outright compared to white people, a new study has found.

The research revealed “stark differences” and “deeply entrenched” ethnic inequalities between those approaching later life.

The Centre for Ageing Better, the Institute for Public Policy Research, and University College London collaborated on the new analysis as the first phase of a research project into those aged between 50 to 70.

As the UK’s population ages, it is estimated one in four people in the UK will be over-65 in less than two decades.

And the proportion of BAME people aged 50-70 has already doubled from 4% to 8% from the previous generation to the current generation.

But the researchers said, without radical action from government, business and others in society, there are serious concerns for millions who are at risk of missing out on enjoying their later life.

Their analysis found:

  • BAME people aged 50-70 are more likely to be in the poorest fifth of the population in England compared with white people.
  • Black people in their 50s and 60s are living on an average of £100 less a week compared to white people.
  • Black men and women in this age group are far more likely to be in paid work compared to the white population (74% compared to 60%).
  • White people are nearly three times more likely to have retired than black people (28% compared to 11%). Researchers said this suggested more black men and women are likely to be in low paid work and are less likely to be able to rely on sources of wealth beyond income, such as financial assets.
  • Nearly half of white people in their 50s and 60s (47%) own their home outright compared to 33% of Asian and just 13% of black people.
  • People approaching later life from BAME backgrounds are more likely to live in deprived neighbourhoods, with nearly a third of black and a quarter of Asian communities living in the most deprived areas, compared to just 16% of white people. Researchers said these areas often have the oldest and poorest quality housing, which means there is an increased risk of unsafe, insecure housing that would impact people’s physical and mental health.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of the BAME population – compared to 59% of white people – are currently engaging in one or more unhealthy activities such as eating a poor diet, smoking, drinking too much alcohol and/or being physically inactive.
  • Asian women (72%) and men (70%) have higher rates of physical inactivity – but lowest rates of smoking – than other groups.
  • Heavy alcohol use is most prevalent among white males in their 50s and 60s, with 15% reporting that they drink more than the recommended amount compared to an average of 4% across all BAME groups.
  • Of those who are working, more than half of Asian females (56%) and 43% of Asian males report that their mental or physical health has limited the amount or type of work they have been able to carry out recently. This compares to around one third of white (34%) and black (37%) people.

The combined research project seeks to uncover which factors contribute most to a “good later life”, as well as who is most at risk of missing out on this and how this has changed over time.

The teams now plan to conduct interviews and focus groups to hear from people themselves about what their lives are like and what could be done to improve their situation.

It follows a Public Health England report that found the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on BAME people is due – in part – to racism and social and economic inequalities.

Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Our new research shows that ethnic inequalities are deeply entrenched among the generation approaching later life, with those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds facing disadvantages across many areas of life.

“As older generations become increasingly diverse, it’s vital that these inequalities are tackled so that no-one misses out on a good later life.”

Anna Round, senior research fellow at IPPR, said: “All too often, we hear lazy stereotypes applied to everyone in middle or later life.

“But these findings show stark differences within this age group – for example in health and in financial wellbeing.

“We need a better understanding of what lies behind these and many other differences, including the inequalities associated with ethnicity that emerge from this research.”

 Sky News

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