Academics From Ethnic Minorities Are Paid Less Than White Academics In UK Universities

Universities have been shocked to discover clear evidence that women are disadvantaged in UK universities. But what about ethnic minorities? A new research report by David Blackaby and Jeff Frank, published in the latest issue of the Economic Journal, reveals that ethnic minority economists receive about 13% lower pay than white economists. This figure is comparable to the earnings disadvantage of ethnic minorities in the economy as a whole – so university employers appear to be no worse and no better than the average.

Blackaby and Frank find that the average Black and Asian economist earns 13% less than the average white economist. Of course, this may be due to different individual characteristics such as age: the average ethnic minority economist is younger than the average white economist. But after adjusting for age and other individual characteristics, Black and Asian economists still earn 8% less. In these unique data, there are measures of individual productivity such as publications in research journals and the amount of research grant income awarded to the individual. Therefore, 8% is the disadvantage after adjusting for any differences in estimated productivity.

Other studies have looked at ethnic minority academics, the rank they hold and perceptions of discrimination. The researchers here find – after adjusting for characteristics such as productivity – that Blacks and Asians are less likely to hold senior posts though this result does not meet standard criteria for statistical significance and may therefore be due to chance rather than a clearly established phenomenon.

Nevertheless, 41% of ethnic minority economists feel that they have suffered discrimination in the form of failure to obtain posts or promotions. And fully 12% of the ethnic minority economists feel that they have suffered workplace harassment.

The report is also able to contribute to the debate on the treatment of women in UK universities. Women are – after adjusting for productivity and other characteristics – less likely to hold senior posts in universities. Married women suffer an earnings gap – relative to men – of 9%. Unmarried women suffer an earnings gap of 14%. This additional disadvantage suffered by unmarried women is not always recognised in the debate on the treatment of women in academia. It is not known whether the results found for Economics hold for other disciplines. Economics has a relatively high proportion of ethnic minority academics – 12% – compared to only 6% for UK academics as a whole. The results of this study suggest that urgent research should be conducted on this issue.

''Ethnic and Other Minorities in UK Academic Economics'' by David Blackaby and Jeff Frank is published in the June 200 Economic Journal. The study is based on a survey of 516 academic economists carried out by the Royal Economic Society Working Party on the Representation of Ethnic and Other Minorities, chaired by Sajal Lahiri. Funding was provided by the Royal Economic Society.