Without correcting for age cohorts and BAME percentages within them we're not going to get anywhere. Credit - Al Jazeera English, CC by SA 2.0

This is not, I hasten to add, that less than perfectly pinkish people should or ought to be paid less than perfectly pinkish. Rather, the ethnic pay gap in the NHS has a perfectly reasonable and sensible explanation – mass immigration into our sceptered isles is fairly recent. The age profile of BAME medical staff is thus different to the age profile of pink such. Wages and salaries do tend to change with age and that’s all we need to know here.

So, this is true, but then it should be:

Black doctors in the NHS are paid on average almost £10,000 a year less and black nurses £2,700 less than their white counterparts, the biggest study of earnings by ethnicity has found.

The revelations, based on analysis of 750,000 staff salaries in the NHS in England, prompted claims of racial discrimination.

No, this isn’t taste discrimination – pay them less because they’re not pink – it’s rational discrimination. The cause being this:

The Royal College of Nursing said the pay gaps were “enormous” and underlined the “appalling” under-representation of people from minority ethnic backgrounds in senior NHS roles.

Yes, that’s it. And it is – again – right that this is so.

Running from the 2011 census, and from memory so these are rough numbers, BAME among 80 year olds is some 4% or so. Among 4 year olds well over 20%. There’s something of a curve, perhaps a line, between the two numbers. That mass immigration has happened in recent decades that is. Part of that high level among the very young is simply immigrant fertility. Immigrants tend to bring with them the fertility levels of their place of origin, it’s in the second and subsequent generations that it falls to that of the indigenes (and when people move from poorer countries to richer it is fall).

There is also that stereotype of the immigrant running the corner shop – we’ve seen several waves of it in this country – and all the children being educated into the professions. That’s what the immigration was about in the first place.

But the story as to why is less important than the fact. The age profile of BAME people in the workforce is different from that of the population as a whole. It skews notably younger. And given that wages tend to rise with age then there is going to be an ethnic pay gap and there should be one too. Simply because that immigrant derived BAME population hasn’t aged into the high paying jobs yet.

What we do about this is wait. Assuming that the bolus of immigration has happened and won’t again then it’ll take a few decades and the “problem” will be gone.

If, as and when, someone comes up with a study showing that the portion of senior NHS managers – thus the high paid peeps – is more pinkish that the population or workforce of that age cohort then we might want to have a rethink. Anyone who tells us about the workforce as a whole without correcting for age and population portions can safely be ignored.

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