In Britain, Bangladeshis fare better than Pakistanis

British-Bangladeshis are better off academically and economically than British-Pakistanis

Web Desk February 25, 2015
Bangladeshis in Britain. PHOTO: REUTERS

British-Pakistanis concentrated in places like Bradford and Birmingham are eyeing a London borough of British-Bengali population with envy as they overtake them in fields such as education and wealth, The Economist reported.

There are over 1.1 million Britons who identified themselves as Pakistanis in a 2011 census, twice as many as 447,201 who called themselves Bangladeshi. But the latter, who are concentrated in the restaurant business, seem to have better fortune than the former.

While both started mass migration to the British isles in the 1950s, the Bangladeshis overtook Pakistanis in education around a decade ago with 61% of Bangladeshis getting five good GCSEs in 2014.

In contrast, 51% Pakistani pupils got five good GCSEs. But this was lower than British whites, 56% of who got good scores.

Furthermore, among the youth, Bangladeshis were more likely to be studying or working.

Yaojun Li, a sociologist at the University of Manchester, calculates that Bangladeshis’ average monthly household income, though still low, is now slightly higher than that of Pakistanis.

One reason for the creeping economic disparity between Pakistanis and Bangladeshis is that most of the Pakistanis who came over in the 1960s took jobs in the textile mills of the north and the foundries of the West Midlands. The boom allowed most Pakistanis to buy houses. But 50 years on and the fall of an industry later, the incomes of Pakistanis has shrunk and their properties, like others in those areas have failed to appreciate enough.

On the other hand, most Bangladeshis arrived in the 1970s as refugees with Bangladeshi migration peaking in the early 1980s. They saw a very different Britain to what the Pakistanis had found around 20 years earlier. Shamit Saggar of Essex University suggests that this was was oddly lucky for the Bangladeshis since they did not commit themselves to a doomed industry.

Bangladeshis, unlike the Pakistanis, did not concentrate in two different places of England which faced poor economic fortunes over time.

Instead, half of all Britain’s Bangladeshis now live in London, compared to one-fifth of Pakistanis. Bangladeshis are also fortunate that Tower Hamlets surrounds the booming office district of Canary Wharf, thus providing greater economic opportunity and access to better schools.

However, research by Simon Burgess of the University of Bristol shows that is still more to the difference between the two groups with Bangladeshis doing better than Pakistanis both in London and outside the city in 2013.


Bangladeshis born in Britain are also more likely than their Pakistani counterparts to socialise with people of a different ethnicity, according to another study. However, both still overwhelmingly marry within their own ethnic groups. But more young Bangladeshi men tend to marry out, 26% when compared with 17% of Pakistani youths.

Cousin marriage is also more common among Pakistanis than among Bangladeshis, as is the culture of bringing over of partners from the ancestral towns in the subcontinent. The practice means more Pakistanis in a city like Bradford are first-generation migrants than might be expected by now.

The expectation among young Pakistani men of finding a partner in their parent's country may also mean that they are less driven to succeed—the desire to find a marriage partner being an unstated reason for going to university among people of all races.


zara haq | 6 years ago | Reply @Bangladeshi: NOOOOO! OMG. Bengalis are fun people. Some of them are very nice and kind and very good muslims. I didnt intend to mock them ^ω^. It was for hyper indians. I am sorry if i offended you
Shakti | 6 years ago | Reply @Pakistani: "...otherwise history will not forgive Pakistan." What history are you talking about? Pakistan has NO history. It only has geography.
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