Three in four Pakistani and Bangladeshi children in UK living in poverty at age 7

15 October 2010

Almost three-quarters of Pakistani and Bangladeshi children in the UK are being brought up in families that are living on poverty-level income, new research suggests.

The Millennium Cohort Study, which is tracking children born between 2000 and 2002, has found that 73 per cent of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi seven-year olds were in families estimated to be living on less than 60 per cent of the average national household income.

Just over half of the black children (51%) in the Millennium cohort were in such low-income families, compared with one in four white (26%) and Indian (25%) children. Predictably, low income was strongly linked to joblessness among parents, say researchers at the Institute of Education, University of London, who collected information from almost 14,000 families in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2008/9.

Among fathers, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis had the highest unemployment rate (15%) – well above the UK average of 6 per cent. Unemployment among black fathers was also high (11%) but Indians were less likely to be unemployed (4%) than whites (5.5%).

Almost two-thirds (64%) of white and Indian mothers had jobs, compared with half (52%) of black mothers and only 17 per cent of Pakistani and Bangladeshi mothers.

A much higher proportion of children in lone-parent families (63%) were living below the study’s poverty line than those with married (16%) or cohabiting (30%) parents.

“The incidence of income poverty for the Millennium cohort families has not changed appreciably over the first seven years of the children’s lives,” says Professor Heather Joshi, the study’s director. “Despite government efforts to eradicate child poverty almost three in 10 children are still in poor families at age 7. It’s particularly disappointing that around one in five seven-year-olds is in severe poverty – on incomes below half the national average.”

The findings appear in a report published today by the Institute of Education’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies: Millennium Cohort Study, Fourth Survey: A User’s Guide to Initial Findings. Copies of the report can be downloaded from (from 10am on Friday, October 15).                                                                                    

Further information from:

David Budge

(off) 020 7911 5349

(mob) 07811 415362

Notes for editors:

  1.  The poverty line calculation takes into account the number of people in a household.
  2. The Millennium Cohort Study has been tracking the Millennium children through their early childhood and plans to follow them into adulthood. It covers such diverse topics as parenting; childcare; school choice; child behaviour and cognitive development; child and parental health; parents’ employment and education; income; housing; and neighbourhood. It is the first of the nationwide cohort studies to over-sample areas with high densities of ethnic minorities and large numbers of disadvantaged families. Previous surveys of the cohort were carried out when the children were aged nine months, three years and five years. The study is housed at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at the Institute of Education. It was commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council, whose funding has been supplemented by a consortium of government departments.
  3. Data from the fieldwork for the fourth survey of the Millennium cohort are now available from the UK Data Archive
  4. The contract for data collection in MCS is awarded under competitive tender to specialist agencies. For three of the four surveys undertaken to date the data collection was carried out by the National Centre for Social Research, who in turn sub-contracted the interviewing in Northern Ireland to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. The agency responsible for the second round of data collection was Gfk-NOP, who sub-contracted in Northern Ireland to Millward Brown.
  5. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports more than 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.
  6. The Institute of Education is a college of the University of London that specialises in education and related areas of social science and professional practice. In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise two-thirds of the publications that the IOE submitted were judged to be internationally significant and over a third were judged to be “world leading”. The Institute was recognised by Ofsted in 2010 for its “high quality” initial teacher training programmes that inspire its students “to want to be outstanding teachers”. The IOE is a member of the 1994 group, which brings together 19 internationally renowned, research-intensive universities.


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