CSI Newsletter March 2019


Welcome to the Centre for Social Investigation eNewsletter.

Please click on the individual items below or click here to download the newsletter.


New CSI research reveals high levels of job discrimination faced by ethnic minorities in Britain

Funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research programme, CSI conducted field experiments comparing the chances of ethnic minorities obtaining positive callbacks from employers with the chances for identically-qualified white British applicants. The results showed that white minorities, such as those with a European background, experience only modest risks of discrimination. In contrast, non-white minorities such as those of Caribbean, African or South Asian heritage experience significantly greater risks. On average non-white minorities have to make 1.6 times as many applications in order to get a positive callback as does a white British applicant – a level of discrimination described as ‘shocking’ by the Guardian newspaper. Comparison with previous British field experiments on racial discrimination in the labour market indicates that there has been no significant decline in discrimination since 1969.


What’s the latest public opinion on Brexit?

We contributed two pieces to the new report from UK in a Changing Europe. Firstly, we looked at national identity and Brexit preferences and showed that those seeing themselves predominately as Scottish or Irish are more inclined to support Remain while among those who describe themselves as English not British, there is strong support not only for Brexit but for a ‘hard’ Brexit.

Secondly, we put voters’ knowledge of the EU to the test and found that, perhaps counter to expectations, Leavers are not less well-informed than Remainers. These results were also published in the Electoral Studies journal.


Ongoing research projects

Yizhang Zhao and Anthony Heath are working on a new study of racial discrimination in the housing market. The project is collaborative with journalists from the Guardian newspaper (which conducted a field experiment on flatshares in 2018). The study will compare results from the different field experiments in housing and in the labour market, as well as overtime.


Elisabeth Garratt and Jan Flaherty are conducting a qualitative research project assessing people’s homelessness pathways and their experiences of support services in Oxford. This project will be the first systematic attempt to track peoples’ experiences to capture the full spectrum of homelessness (including rough sleeping, statutory homelessness, and hidden homelessness) and is adopting a whole lifecourse perspective. So far, 29 currently or formerly homeless people have taken part. Initial findings will be reported in the next newsletter.


Silke Schneider (a former Nuffield postdoc and visitor to CSI) is working with Anthony Heath on a new study of ethnic minority integration in Europe. The study will be based on rounds 7 and 8 of the European Social Survey (ESS), and will use the new measure of ethnic origins developed by Anthony Heath, Silke Schneider and Sarah Butt specifically for the ESS. The study will take a multidimensional approach to integration, exploring integration in economic, cultural, social, and political domains.


New published research

We have also had several research articles published in the last few months:

“Young People in Transition: The National Identity of Minority Youth” in Growing up in Diverse Societies ed. Kalter et al. Proceedings of the British Academy, OUP

The headline finding of this paper is that minority youth tend to have weaker attachment to the nation than do majority youth, but they also have relatively weak attachment to their ethnic group. Moreover, feelings that one is being discriminated against by teachers and other authorities was associated, among both majority and minority youth, with weaker attachment to the nation. Integration therefore seems to be a two-way process.


“Persisting Disadvantages: A Study of Labour Market Dynamics of Ethnic Unemployment and Earnings in the UK (2009-2015)” in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

Based on analyses of the UK Longitudinal Household Survey, this paper shows that ethnic minorities, particularly black African, black Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi minorities, face much higher risks of unemployment and have much lower levels of earnings than do their white British counterparts. Moreover, over the life course, ethnic minorities are not only more likely to face unemployment but their previous experiences of unemployment also incur more enduring scars for them than for the majority group with respect to re-employment and pay. In effect, ethnic disadvantages are cumulative over the life course.


“Food insecurity amongst older people in the UK” in British Food Journal

This paper combines secondary analyses of national survey data and semi-structured interviews with older people receiving emergency food from foodbanks to provide insights into food insecurity among over-50s. The quantitative analyses revealed a small but substantial number of older people who are constrained in their spending on food and are skipping meals. The qualitative interviews revealed that a number of older people were trying to ensure that their children and grandchildren had enough to eat, but were reluctant to ask for help themselves. Collectively the results point to the potentially hidden nature of food insecurity in this group. The paper calls for multifaceted policy initiatives that support older people, particularly those who live alone.


OECD report: How do Europeans differ in their attitudes to immigration? Findings from the European Social Survey 2002/3 – 2016/7

Drawing on the authoritative European Social Surveys from 2002 to 2016, the report shows that European publics’ attitudes to immigration have changed relatively little overall but have become more polarized, both between and within countries. Attitudes are most negative in eastern European countries and most positive in the Nordic countries, a pattern that has also been quite stable over time. Britain proves not to be all that different from its neighbours such as France.



Anthony Heath has been acting as an adviser to RIDEA (The Research Institute for Development and European Affairs) in Kosovo, which have been conducting a survey on the attitudes of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo to possible ways in which relations between Serbia and Kosovo could be normalized, leading to the full recognition of Kosovo as an independent state. The research was funded by the Norwegian Embassy and an event was held in Pristina, Kosovo on 20th February to disseminate the results. Anthony introduced the main findings from the survey to an audience including the President of Kosovo, the Norwegian Ambassador, and politicians from the main political parties. The event was widely covered in the media in Kosovo and Serbia.


CSI held an event at the British Academy on 18th January to disseminate the results of the research on racial discrimination in the British labour market. Anthony Heath, Valentina Di Stasio (a CSI associate member who had played a key role in conducting the research) and Lincoln Quillian (a leading American authority on discrimination) presented papers focussing on trends over time in Britain, how Britain compares with other countries, and how the risks facing different groups such as Muslims vary. The event was attended by the main stakeholders including participants from government departments and ethnic minority groups as well as academics and researchers.


Anthony Heath took part in a Cumberland Lodge Debate entitled “What should it mean to be British?” moderated by Newsnight’s Evan Davis.


Elisabeth Garratt attended the event “Charitable food provision as an ’emergency response’: what can we learn from experiences from Canada, North America in the UK?” and presented ongoing work on food insecurity.


In January we ran a two-day symposium on Brexit-related attitudes, bringing together experts from across the country.


Jan Flaherty attended a panel discussion on women’s experiences of homelessness in Oxford, organised by students from New College, as part of their events marking International Women’s Day.



Lindsay Richards wrote a blog post for the LSE Politics Blog: “Nationalism, racism, and identity: what connects Englishness to a preference for hard Brexit?” The post can be found here.


Anthony Heath wrote a blog post for the British Academy: “How ethnic minorities are still discriminated against in the UK job market”. The post can be viewed here.


Elisabeth Garratt submitted evidence to the Children’s Future Food Inquiry (led by the APPG on Poverty). Her submission can be viewed here.


Lindsay Richards and Anthony Heath wrote a blog post for OUP blog: “The 1950s is a vanished world, but have we made social progress?” The post can be found here.


Along with colleagues at Manchester University, Elisabeth Garratt wrote a commentary piece on the Social Metrics Commission’s proposal for a new measure of poverty. The piece can be viewed here.