Ethnic inequalities in later life

Improving healthy ageing by understanding how ethnic inequalities develop over time.

This project will provide new, much-needed information on ethnic inequalities in mental and physical health, well-being and socio-economic circumstances in people aged over 45. Existing research shows that people from ethnic minorities experience poorer health and well-being throughout their lives. We know that these inequalities are significantly greater among older people, but we do not know how these inequalities have changed over time, or why they exist. This project will address this gap in our knowledge.

The project uses innovative research methods to analyse existing census and survey data across three stages. The first stage will document the existence and persistence of inequalities among older people, and will create life expectancy and healthy life expectancy estimates by ethnic group, gender, and generation. The second stage of the research will focus on identifying the underlying causes of these inequalities. The final stage will explore how and why ethnic inequalities among older people have changed across cohorts and generations.

As the proportion of older ethnic minority people is growing rapidly in the UK and will have an increasing influence on health and social welfare policies and provision, it is vital to gain a precise understanding of inequalities in health, well-being, and social circumstances. The findings from this research will inform policy makers and social care providers in their efforts to improve healthy ageing.

This project is funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

Research team


Sarah Stopforth, Dharmi Kapadia, James Nazroo and Laia Bécares (2021) 'Ethnic inequalities in health in later life, 1993–2017: the persistence of health disadvantage over more than two decades', Ageing and Society.

Laia Bécares, Dharmi Kapadia, and Jame Nazroo. (2020), ‘Neglect of older ethnic minority people in UK research and policy’, British Medical Journal 368:m212