People in poverty are less likely to have mixed social networks

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A new report shows how our social networks can benefit our health and wellbeing, and may also affect how likely we are to experience poverty. mixedracefriends

The study found that British and White Irish ethnic groups are less likely than ethnic minority groups to have ethnically mixed social networks.

The research conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation studied how social networks vary between people of different ethnic groups and financial status, and examined whether people with mixed social networks are less likely to be poor.

This study used Wave 3 of Understanding Society (data collected in 2011-12). Understanding Society allows analysis of three main themes: poverty, ethnicity and social networks.

This paper studied:

  • How social networks vary between people of different ethnic groups and financial status.
  • Examined whether people with mixed social networks are less likely to be living in poverty; and looked at regional differences in the relationship between poverty, ethnicity and social networks.

In their analysis, the team found the social factors that reduce the likelihood of being in poverty.

  • Having a mixed ethnic friendship network
  • Having friends from outside your neighbourhood
  • Having friends that are all employed.

However, there are other factors such as having no qualifications or being separated or divorced that are stronger predictors of being in poverty than social network composition.

Key points

  • Eight out of ten people have friends from a different neighbourhood.
  • Two out of three people from ethnic minority groups have friends from a different ethnic group. The figure is lowest for White ethnic groups.
  • People in poverty are less likely to have mixed social networks.
  • Three factors are related to a reduced likelihood of being poor: having a mixed ethnic friendship network, having friends from outside your neighbourhood, and having all friends who are employed.
  • Other factors, such as having no qualifications, are stronger predictors of being in poverty than social network composition.
  • The benefit of having mixed friendship networks is felt most by ethnic groups with lowest levels of poverty and least by those with highest levels of poverty.
  • The number of close friends was a stronger predictor of poverty status than how mixed somebody’s social network was.
  • Interventions should be targeted at deprived neighbourhoods and ethnic groups who have mixed networks but are not benefiting from them as much as they could.

The full report is called: How are poverty, ethnicity and social networks related?

Further information