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Key points

  • Londoners from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds are more likely to be in poverty than White British people. In the three years to 2013/14, over half of people of Bangladeshi or Pakistani ethnicity were living in poverty compared to 49% (Black African) and 17% for White British.
  • BME Londoners are more likely to be unemployed or workless. People of Black ethnicity have the highest unemployment rate - at 11% of the working-age population. But economic inactivity is highest among Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic groups at 38%.
  • Men born in Somalia have the highest worklessness rates in London at 50%.
  • 52% of Bangladeshi employees in London are low-paid - three times higher than for those of White British origin (18%).
  • Pupils from all ethnic groups do better at GCSE in London than in the rest of England.

All the graphs where there is analysis by ethnicity and/or country of birth are listed on the right of this page.


London is the most ethnically diverse region of the UK, and an estimated 3.1 million in London were born outside the UK.

Poverty among ethnic minorities is typically higher than the White British poverty rate, so it is important we consider ethnicity. However, the scope for analysing poverty among different ethnic minority groups is limited by the data available at a London level. Our primary source of data on poverty and employment is from surveys and the sample size for many ethnic minority groups is too small to produce robust statistics. In addition, some of the analysis in London's Poverty Profile draws on administrative data, such as the number of claimants of housing benefit, where information on ethnicity is not routinely collected.

There will be substantial variation within these broad ethnic groupings. It is particularly important to note that one ethnic group will include people born in different countries and likewise people born in the same country can belong to different ethnic groups.


The poverty rate for White British people in London was 17% in the three years to 2013/14 (measured after housing costs), lower than all other ethnic groups for which we have reliable data. It is about half the rate of White non-British at 32%.

The second lowest poverty rate was among Indian (including British Indian) at 22% whilst the highest was among Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups who combined had a poverty rate of 58%. People of Black Caribbean ethnicity in London have a poverty rate of 32%, above the London average of 27% but significantly lower than the poverty rate for people of Black African ethnicity at 49%.

Find out more about poverty and ethnicity from the Centre for Analysis for Social Exclusion here.

Work and worklessness

In 2014, Londoners of Black ethnicity had the highest proportion of working-age people who were unemployed at 11%. The lowest was among those of White ethnicity at 4%. Black Londoners claiming Job Seekers' Allowance were also most likely to be sanctioned by Job Centre Plus, especially young adults of Black Caribbean ethnicity.

However, economic inactivity (the proportion of people who are not in work and not seeking work or available to work so therefore not unemployed) was highest among Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic groups at 38%. Combining unemployment and inactivity, levels of worklessness were highest among Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic groups. It is worth noting that overall levels of worklessness were lower for all ethnic groups in 2014 than in 2004.

Turning from ethnic groups to country of birth, men born in Somalia had the highest worklessness rates in London at 50%, followed by men born in Turkey at 41%. The next highest was men born in Jamaica and Nigeria both at 33%. Among the most common 15 countries of birth in London, the workless rate of men born in the UK 25% was 7th highest. Over two thirds of women in London born in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and Somalia were workless.

The gap in worklessness rates between women and men in London differs dramatically by country of birth. Women born in Jamaica have a lower worklessness rate than men from Jamaica, whilst the worklessness rate for women born in Bangladesh is 56 percentage points higher than for men born in Bangladesh.

Find out more about ethnicity and employment.

Find out more about work and country of birth.

Low pay

The proportion of employees that are paid below the London Living Wage varies substantially between different ethnic groups. The low pay rate for Bangladeshi employees at 52% is three times higher than for those of White British origin (18%). Those of Indian and Other White ethnicity have the next lowest proportion of employees paid below the London Living Wage, both around 24%.

Find out more about ethnicity and low pay.


For each broad ethnic group, pupils in London perform better than their counterparts in the rest of England at age 16, including pupils for whom English is a second language. At 45%, Black pupils had the highest proportion not achieving 5 A*-C grades at GCSE including English and Maths in London, five percentage points higher than White pupils who are the next highest.

Find out more about ethnicity and educational outcomes.

You may also be interested to read more about ethnicity and economic outcomes including unemployment, wealth and low pay in a blog from the Centre for Analysis for Social Exclusion.