Yesterday the front pages were filled with the news that the Prime Minister was going force all companies with more than 250 employees to disclose how many of each census ethnicity they have, and what different ethnicities get paid at the median.
This builds on the gender pay gap stats that Kate Andrews at the Institute of Economic Affairs has so roundly rebutted before, but companies nonetheless have to report. A totally useless set of statistics used to bash businesses and one which does not solve the issues it purports to.
Leaving aside the fact that there is nothing to force employees to disclose their race to their employer, or that there is something weirdly sinister the government demand companies do so, I’m convinced this crude measure will add yet another unnecessary burden to business and do nothing but sow division without reason.
As Tim Worstall, a Senior Fellow here at the Adam Smith Institute, said in a letter to the Times today: these figures are “misleading because the age structure of the population differs by formally defined race. From the 2011 census, the whole population median age was 39, that of the white population 41, Asian, black and other, 30, 30 and 29 respectively, and mixed 18. Pay rises with age, as promotions to better-paid positions are earned through experience.”
To put it bluntly, in the United Kingdom we’ve seen a large change demographic change in the past 50 to 60 years. In the UK, you’re like to earn the most between the ages of 40 to 54. If the white population’s median age is at that point and at peak earning potential at present, while other groups are younger and so behind in peak income, then any figure that does not control for this but is used to highlight a supposed ‘gap’ will be misleading at best, or otherwise downright dishonest.