Ethnic minority children tend to set their sights highest when planning future careers

Children from some ethnic minority groups are most likely to aspire to university and aim for well-paid jobs, according to new research using Child of the New Century.

What we asked you

When we visited you at ages 7, 11 and 14, we asked you whether you thought you’d go to university, and what job you would like to have when you got older.

The researchers also looked at information from Next Steps, a similar study of young people born in the year 1989-1990. At age 25, Next Steps study members were asked about their careers and whether they’d gone to university.

What the researchers found

The researchers looked at how your educational and job aspirations changed throughout childhood.

At age 14, black African, Indian and Bangladeshi boys all gave themselves, on average, an 80 per cent chance of going to university, while white and black Caribbean boys only gave themselves a 60 per cent chance. Bangladeshi, black African, Indian and Pakistani girls believed they had an 80 per cent chance of going to university, while white girls gave themselves a 70 per cent chance.

Researchers also looked at how much money you would make if you followed your dream careers. Bangladeshi, Pakistani and black African boys aspired to jobs with hourly wages of about £24, while white and Indian boys aimed for careers with an estimated average hourly wage of about £18.

Bangladeshi and black African girls aspired to roles with wages of £21 per hour, Indian and Pakistani girls aimed for jobs with wages of £20 an hour, black Caribbean girls aspired to roles with earnings of £19 per hour, and white girls aimed for jobs that paid £16 per hour.

The researchers then looked at the information from the older generation, to see where people of different ethnic backgrounds ended up. About half of black African and Indian people had degrees, by the age of 25. The proportion of people from other ethnic backgrounds who had degrees was lower – ranging from about 21 per cent to 33 per cent.

Young Bangladeshi men with degrees were, on average, the highest earners at age 25, taking home almost £550 a week. White men with degrees typically earned £513 a week, but black Caribbean men with a degree commanded significantly lower wages – around £60 per week less than white men with a similar education.

Among women with degrees, Indian women received the highest wages, earning £502 a week. White women with degrees earned around £70 less than equally-qualified Indian women, and young Pakistani, Bangladeshi and black Caribbean women with degrees took home between £35 and £90 per week less than their white counterparts.

Why this research is important

There’s no reason why ethnicity should affect whether or not you go to university, or whether you strive for top jobs. Nevertheless, there are still big differences in who ends up in higher education and in more lucrative careers. Research like this can help draw attention to these issues, so schools, universities and others can help young people find the path that best suits them, regardless of ethnicity.

Find out more about this research

This research was carried out by Prof Lucinda Platt at the London School of Economics in collaboration with the BBC. It is available on the BBC website.

The research was also covered by the Huffington Post.