In Britain, Bangladeshis fare better than Pakistanis

Published: February 25, 2015
Bangladeshis in Britain. PHOTO: REUTERS

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.

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Reader Comments (45)

  • Mirza
    Feb 25, 2015 - 11:07AM

    Kudos to our Bengali brothers. More power to them. No wonder they wanted independence so from being the most impoverished province of Pakistan they move ahead of us. Recommend

  • Zara
    Feb 25, 2015 - 11:28AM

    Yeah right. If It was Pakistan, then this article would make no sense.Recommend

  • raisani
    Feb 25, 2015 - 11:29AM

    Good to hear that our Bengali brothers ate doing so well.Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 25, 2015 - 11:35AM

    Hey someone is misusing my nick?? I never posted that comment to mirzaRecommend

  • zara
    Feb 25, 2015 - 11:39AM

    Ok guys this is some other zara not me. Haha nick stealers. Recommend

  • Wasif
    Feb 25, 2015 - 12:05PM

    No wonder we are a failed state..Recommend

  • Hasan
    Feb 25, 2015 - 12:11PM

    Pakistani establishment and politicians called them primitive, dark-skinned people. The “superior” ones are the ones who are still carrying the “kashkol” today. This is natural justice at its best !! The illiterates in Pakistan still believe that fair skin is the symbol of superiority.Recommend

  • ajeet
    Feb 25, 2015 - 12:46PM

    So Pakistanis have stopped comparing themselves against Indians as they stand no chance and are now comparing themselves against Bangladeshis?Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Feb 25, 2015 - 1:20PM

    Pakistan should do something for Stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh. Otherwise history will not forgive Pakistan.Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 25, 2015 - 1:35PM

    et are u on purpose publishing such comment s anti pak. I used to come here cuz i considered ur newspaper a better than rest. Thanks for changing perception. And yes u can publish this comment cuz the relevant long comment i made u never posted on this topic but this one u will definitely post to make a point.Recommend

  • Alann
    Feb 25, 2015 - 2:06PM

    ET should have included data about Indians living in UK as well in the above article. Should have also included the crime rate among Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi population in UK. Then the Pakistanis would have found out exactly where they stand in the world.Recommend

  • Zee
    Feb 25, 2015 - 2:11PM

    Not to take away anything away from the fact that they are doing better, but just so you know, Tower Hamlets is one the most deprived boroughs of London. The pic of the guy with a Ferrari you have posted in your article, that is actually being rented by school grads on their ‘Prom’ day. Search for Tower Hamlets Ferrari and you will see a whole DailyMail article full of these showoffs.Recommend

  • khanofquetta
    Feb 25, 2015 - 2:21PM

    there are more pakistanis than bangalis in ukRecommend

  • zara
    Feb 25, 2015 - 2:44PM

    Yes we know india shines in that sense. yes we know the racism showered on your movie stars of Goal by britain. Tata

    Anyways guys read the full article from economist that et has mentioned.
    Secondly, bangladesh however poor it was , was never as poor as indian state chattisgarh and several other states.
    There is so much hunger in india that if hunger cud be sold in exchange for cash india wuold have been richest country in world.Recommend

  • Hasan
    Feb 25, 2015 - 3:43PM

    BTW this article doesn’t reveal that Pakis are not talented .. It simply says that Unfortunately the Textile Industries to which most of the Pakis were attached got economic crisis which lowered their income while Bengali brothers were luckily attached to the Food Industry .. which is an ever green industry that’s why they are now earning more :)Recommend

  • Reddy
    Feb 25, 2015 - 3:43PM

    no surprises there bangladesh always been culturally more open than pakistan,forget about expat bangladeshis,bangladesh is gonna be the 2nd largest economy at SAARC in 3-4 years… Recommend

  • Sabyasachi
    Feb 25, 2015 - 6:19PM

    In the recent study here at the US universities, amongst the south asian nations it is Sri Lanka which is doing the best followed very closely by Bangladesh.If BD has continued political stability then it is predicted that she will overtake SL in another 2 to 3 years.India is way too ahead for her to catch up right now.May be in another decade plus.Recommend

  • Salman
    Feb 25, 2015 - 6:42PM

    The Economist is an indian propoganda newspaper, I don’t trust whatever it saysRecommend

  • Someone
    Feb 25, 2015 - 7:10PM

    The median wealth of British Pakistanis is £97,000 (third highest ethnicity), while the median wealth of British Bangladeshis is only £15,000. So while feel-good articles like these cause a minute of excitement to Indians and Bengalis, it doesn’t change the facts. British Bangladeshis are way behind Pakistanis in all fields.

    And those Pakistanis affected by poverty are mainly Kashmiri emigrants based in the mill towns. Research has shown that Pakistani Punjabis are one of the most successful groups in the UK, and there are several publications on them.Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 25, 2015 - 7:38PM


    secondly the variables used in the report are funny. There are no base pay stats. No number of jobs and businesses held,no net income, taxes paid. There are just two things considered.
    One bangladesi kids’ grades are better. Haha
    Second,less pc pf bangalis marry cuzns so they are socially better than pakistanis . Lolz
    And its so funny ppl here are talking abt saarc. Pakistan shud better withdraw fom useless saarc.
    Thirdly bengalis are way brighter than indians. Very intelligent ppl and smart.Recommend

  • Sardar Patel
    Feb 26, 2015 - 12:18AM


    I hope this does not puncture your highly inflated ego, but you need to read many international reports on individual countries. Some reports even put Pakistan below Sudan. Bangladesh is way ahead of Pakistan. And don’t even think of comparing your “paradise” with India. If history has not been able to open your eyes – and that of your countrymen – nothing else will. Keep dreaming your pipedreams of grandeur and pomposity. The world doesn’t care much for Pakistan. Bangladeshis are happy they broke away from Pakistan. And India is equally happy that Pakistan separated from it at the time of birth. That’s the best thing that happened to both India and Bangladesh. Recommend

  • Yo2Da2
    Feb 26, 2015 - 12:58AM

    @Zara: It would, if region were substituted for country. There was an older study (perhaps from the same group) which found Indians, irrespective religion, doing far better than either Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in terms of education, income, and types of jobs (overwhelmingly professional). Recommend

  • Chachoo
    Feb 26, 2015 - 1:35AM

    I disagree with this report. Just visit UK and see. The point is that Pakistanis are mostly doing businesses and they under invoice to pay less taxes. Otherwise in my view the life-style of Pakistanis is way better than other South Asians.
    But i will agree that many Pakistanis ( Mirpuris in general ) are not interested to study and their interaction with the people of different ethnicity is almost non existent. Recommend

  • glassyman
    Feb 26, 2015 - 1:40AM

    @zara: why get so worked up….. if the piece writer did not give the sort of info….. and is doing malicious propaganda…… lay the statistics here……waiting for the statsRecommend

  • anwar kamal
    Feb 26, 2015 - 7:04AM

    Bangladesh is going ahead in all social index than pakistan, even in some cases than India.Recommend

  • Atheist_Pakistani
    Feb 26, 2015 - 7:18AM

    Good to read something like this. Makes me more hate our previous and current rulers. Breeding ground for crooks and thieves. Recommend

  • DK
    Feb 26, 2015 - 12:41PM

    This report is true enough. I live in Malaysia and i have also noticed Bangladeshi people are far more ahead than Pakistani . I study in UK top 10% university and i have one lecturer Bangladeshi. Pakistani existence is very less. Recommend

  • Amir
    Feb 26, 2015 - 5:24PM

    It is time that we Pakistanis pull out socks up and compete at least with Sudan, Afghanistan, and Somalia. I have got a feeling that even they will over take us in the coming years. Our fair skin and good looks is not taking us anywhere. We are like the African-Americans, whose real contribution is in the show biz and nothing else anywhere. I keep hearing comments like “Muslims are good actors, yeah sure”. Our real contribution, unfortunately, seems to lie in the entertainment business and providing some kababs and biryani.Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 26, 2015 - 6:00PM

    @Amir: for your reading pleasure

    But yes take one fact in uk most rich indians are sikhs. And yes best looking of all indians as well. And these are only ppl who have made a good image of yours globally. rest you remember that character in simpsons Apu. This is how goras see you. And your south indias just thank them for ruining your image worldwide.
    And the whole world atleast does see bangladeshis with more respect than indians. Rest who cares amongst pakistanis, whether indians or bangladeshis are doing better or not. I am sure and hope even bengalis would also not care. they achieved a milestone in bringing micro financingmodel. Recommend

  • Dilip
    Feb 26, 2015 - 6:26PM

    If Pakistan wants to compare with anyone, its none other than Pakistan!!. Problem with Pakistan is leadership, Pakistan need strong and honest leaders who can focus on internal challenges and problems faced by common Pakistani citizen instead of patronizing Pakistani people in wrong ways. illiteracy, corruption, terrorism, poverty etc. are key areas to work on. clear and honest introspection needs to be done by Pakistan by keeping aggressive unsocial elements away in the name of Allah and Islam. Basic need of any common man of Pakistan is Roti, Kapda and Makan NOT Kashmir. If you claim other territories, first prove whatever you have is settled and in good shape. Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan has their own issues which first needs to be resolved before putting further efforts to claim Kashmir. Bangladesh is nothing but best example of failure of Pakstani leadership and counter measure to satisfy need of west Pakistan long ago. Now, Bangladeshi people setting up good example by showing to international media that they are better and progressive then Pakistan.Recommend

  • Milind
    Feb 26, 2015 - 8:27PM

    @zara – Gr8 job in deflecting the real issue at hand.. Whilst its true that most of the poor are in India, the truth remains that most of them are your co-religionists, who’re unable to embrace modernity, caught as they’re in some time warp and medieval religious concepts.

    As far as Hindus are concerned, most of them are jettisoning old baggage and joining the modern world. Thus the condition of India is far better than it was a few decades back. However the same cannot be said of Pakistan – in fact it was better earlier but has been sliding down.Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 26, 2015 - 9:51PM

    @Milind :

    I think you are talking about muslims. Dont they make only 13 pc of your total populace. so only 13 pc india is poor. Secondly, you said deflecting from main issue, there is no issue here. Its you guys beating drum bengalis are better. Its just that report was so poor that anyone could tell. Its great they are doing better. You say they separated from pakistan so they are doing well, even thats is great that getting separated brought them success. No problem. Who cares. I dont know why you indians are stuck 40 years behind. Time to move on.

    Thirdly and most importantly, if our co religionists are poor because of religion and medieval whatever stuff, so how come their co religionists bangladeshis are so successful and OMG whatnot that all indians are drooling over. What good their government has done that they despite being muslim are so ahead and indian government hasnt done?
    Anyways these discussions are so boring. Plz enjoy your time with bangladeshis.Recommend

  • Yo2Da2
    Feb 26, 2015 - 10:59PM

    @Chachoo: A couple of points on your personal observation. One, your personal views are far better than one based on an academic study. Two, Pakistani business owners are lying on their incomes so they have to pay fewer taxes. Kind of insults both academics and honest Pakistani business owners. And perhaps emigrants from Mirpur. Generalizations thy name is Chachoo!Recommend

  • Yo2Da2
    Feb 26, 2015 - 11:03PM

    @zara: Are you the good zara or the bad zara? Sort of got confused very early in this thread by he apparent presence of two zaras.Recommend

  • zara haq
    Feb 26, 2015 - 11:09PM

    Someone steals my nick. But ithink i am bad zara by indians standards. :((

    They dont like me. •︹•. The first zara was fake , rest all are me. Yo2da2Recommend

  • Rahul
    Feb 27, 2015 - 12:47AM

    Bangladesh is doing better than Pakistan. Look at their export earnings, it is 5X Pakistan. If I had to pick a South Asian tiger economy, it would be Bangladesh. Pakistani are ‘Batton Ke Champion’ at home or abroad.Recommend

  • HashK03
    Feb 27, 2015 - 2:50AM

    I live in London and I have seen that many Bengali youth claims to be British born even when they are holders of International student Visa or some other stay. Another thing, 1.1 million Pakistani’s figure in UK include British born as well as immigrant Pakistanis, while Half a million figure of Bengali’s does not include British born Bengali’s.

    This is not some thorough study. More thorough study was done by London School Of Economics recently. According to that study Bengali Families are at bottom in terms of house hold income. Pakistani families are still allot better as compared to Bangladeshi’s but certainly not good enough if compared to Jewish or Sikh’s. (Bengali family av. income around £18000 and Pakistani family av. Income around 135,000).

    Tower Hamlet Councils mayor Lutfur Rahman has recently been caught favoring Bengali’s and many other corruption charges are against him., including poll rigging. Those who live in London will realize that Bengali’s always make groups even at their workplaces. Despite the fact that they have educated their female as well as male counterparts to some extent, truth is very few of them have risen on high level positions if compared with Pakistanis living in UK. Despite their educational achievements one will see most of them working in small shops.

    As @DK claimed above that very few academics exist in UK of Pakistani origin, that’s absolute nonsense. There is large list of Pakistani’s as compared to Bengali’s who are in academia. In-fact opposite is true that Bengali presence in academia is rare in UK. One will see very few Bengali’s doing mentally demanding jobs like being computer programmer or science or technology based jobs.

    However since 9/11 Pakistani’s are definitely going down because of multitude of factors. Biggest of all is Pakistani’s own attitude. Mental bias (of others) is also responsible in their downfall among other factors.Recommend

  • Bangladeshi
    Feb 27, 2015 - 3:41AM

    “Plz enjoy your time with bangladeshis.”

    Zara, what is wrong with enjoying time with Bangladeshis? I live in the US, work with many Indians, and we enjoy our time together thoroughly. Hope that does not upset you :(Recommend

  • Gp65
    Feb 27, 2015 - 4:55AM

    @zara: “There is so much hunger in india that if hunger cud be sold in exchange for cash india wuold have been richest country in world.”

    Yes there is a lot of hunger in India but per the most recent survey by World Bank, India now has a lower percentage of hungry people than its neighbors Pakistan and Bangladesh.Recommend

  • Gp65
    Feb 27, 2015 - 4:57AM

    The article also mentions that Bangladeshis are doing better than Pakistanis at education and are more likely to socialize and marry outside their own community. Perhaps you missed that part.Recommend

  • Gp65
    Feb 27, 2015 - 5:08AM

    @zara: “But yes take one fact in uk most rich indians are sikhs. And yes best looking of all indians as well. And these are only ppl who have made a good image of yours global”

    Well Sikhs are Indians and we applaud their success be it Nicky Randhawa or Ajay Banga but they are not the only Indians who have raised India’s image. The former head of Citigroup Vikram Pandit was from Maharashtra, the heqd of Pepsi, Indra Nooyi is a Tamilian, the CEO of Microsoft is from Andhra Pradesh, Lord Meghnad Desai is from Gujarat, Surgeon general of USA is Vivek Murthy – a Kannadiga! Nitin Nohria the Dean of Harvard Business School is from RajasthanRecommend

  • Bang Bang
    Feb 27, 2015 - 5:24AM

    Among those in working families, around 65% of Bangladeshis, 50% of Pakistanis and 30% of Black Africans are in low income. These rates are much higher than those for White British (10%), White other, Indians and Black Caribbeans (all 15-20%).

    well researched data here.Recommend

  • Yo2Da2
    Feb 27, 2015 - 6:49AM

    @zara haq: No, no. Don’t be modest. You are the good zara no matter what people say.:-)Recommend

  • Shakti
    Feb 27, 2015 - 10:51AM

    @Pakistani: “…otherwise history will not forgive Pakistan.”
    What history are you talking about? Pakistan has NO history. It only has geography.Recommend

  • zara haq
    Feb 27, 2015 - 10:02PM

    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 youRecommend

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