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Worklessness by country of birth

Key points

  • Female worklessness rates are higher than males by an average of 11 percentage points.
  • Female worklessness differs dramatically between countries: female worklessness among those born in Nigeria is four percentage points higher than for men, whereas it is 56 percentage points higher for those born in Bangladesh.
  • There are also differences in worklessness between countries: overall, 14% of those born in South Africa were workless compared to 66% of those from Somalia.

Worklessness by country of birth

What does this graph show?

This graph shows the proportion of working-age men and women who are workless (unemployed or economically inactive) by their country of birth. These are the countries with the largest populations in London (as shown in more detail in the demography chapter). The first key point is that in all but one case (Jamaica), female worklessness rates are higher than males by an average of 11 percentage points. Differences between genders are explained by levels of economic inactivity, which suggests a large caring component. However, this differs dramatically between different countries of birth: for example, female worklessness among those born in Nigeria is four percentage points higher than for men, whereas it is 56 percentage points higher for those born in Bangladesh.

There are also differences between countries: overall, 14% of those born in South Africa were workless compared to 66% of those from Somalia. One important distinguishing factor here is the entry route to the UK that people born in these countries take. If it is through an established labour market route such as a non-EU citizen coming in through a working visa, then lower levels of worklessness would be expected compared to, for example, many Somalis coming through the asylum-seeking process. Another contributing factor to these inter-country differences is that London universities have some of the highest international student recruitment numbers, and some countries may be overrepresented. Students are more likely to be economically inactive than working.

One other key point is that despite high headline worklessness rates for some of these groups, they may still be quite insignificant in the context of worklessness in London overall. For example, Somalis make up 2% of all workless working-age adults in London. People born in the UK make up 53% of worklessness in London.

Data used

Labour Force Survey, ONS.

Indicator last updated: 21 October 2015