Ethnic pay gap reporting will be a misleading disaster

The Prime Minister has just announced that all companies and employers will be required to report the ethnic pay gap in their workforces. This is going to be a horribly misleading disaster - worse than the reporting on the gender pay gap has been.

All large employers will be forced to publish their "ethnicity pay gap" to help create a "fairer and more diverse workforce" under Government plans, the Prime Minister has announced.

Theresa May has launched a consultation on a new legal requirement for both public and private sector employers to publish the difference in pay between white and ethnic minority workers.

Quite apart from anything else the age profiles of the different ethnic groups are quite different:

This data uses the ‘median’ for working out the average age for each ethnic group. The median is the middle point of a range of numbers that are arranged in order of size from lowest to highest.

This data shows that:

at the time of the 2011 Census, the median age of the population of England and Wales was 39 years

the White ethnic group had the highest median age (at 41 years), and the Mixed group had the lowest (at 18 years)

the Asian, Black and Other ethnic groups had similar median ages at 30, 30, and 29 years respectively

As we all should know pay generally rises during a working life time. Older people get higher wages that is. Then we should add that confounding factor we found in the gender pay gap numbers - it tends to be the older people in the top and very well paid jobs. As some portion drop out of the workforce, as others dial back efforts to be part of the rat race, that average pay of women drops. Not because any one woman is being paid differently to any one man, but because of that difference in career progression - presumably freely chosen.

We found that at least one editor of a national newspaper wasn’t even willing to consider this explanation, let alone give it credence.

With the ethnic pay gap it will all be even more misleading. We’ve that same point, older people tend to be paid more, are further up the career ladder not through discrimination but experience. And yet the numbers will be presented raw, without correction fort this obvious point.

A population on average a decade younger than another will be earning lower wages. Ought to be earning lower wages. And yet that they are earning lower wages will become accepted evidence of gross discrimination.

The Prime Minster has just made a serious error here. She’s insisting upon the publication of figures that will only ever be used as a stick for her back. When all they actually will show is that mass immigration is a relatively recent phenomenon, which is why the ethnic age profiles are so different.

We’re reminded of Sir John Cowperthwaite. and the GDP figures in Hong Kong. Sometimes collecting the statistics is a bad idea because some damn fool will only do something with them.