The evidence

Significant findings and headline data for eight key areas

The bulk of the Review is a collection of objective data about the chances, choices and outcomes in life of different groups of people.

It considers the experience of groups of people who share common characteristics in terms of: Age; Gender; Disability; Ethnicity; Religion or belief; Sexual orientation; Transgender status.

Where appropriate, the Review also takes into account the impact of socio-economic background, or class.

The data in the Review relate to activities across different areas which encompass the capabilities and freedoms - that is, the things that each of us needs to do and to be - in order to be happy, productive and fulfilled:

Under each area, the Review examines a set of indicators. For example, under ‘education’, the indicators include readiness for school, performance at Key Stage 4, and participation in higher education. The Review gives the best available data for detailed measures about how different groups fare in relation to these indicators. It gives, for example, the average exam results at age 16 for boys and girls, disabled people and non-disabled people, and for people of different religious and racial backgrounds.

We set out what we regard as some of the most significant findings from the Review, with each finding illustrated by a selection of the key data. These data points will, we hope, focus attention where energy and resources are needed to achieve progress.

In essence we have tried to consider a series of factors such as: human rights implications;prevalence – i.e how many people does it affect; and impact on life chances. A disadvantage may be rare but its impact so severe that it needs to be tackled, if only for a small number of people.

We also concentrate here on highlighting firm data from the evidence in Part II of the Review. This inevitably means that some groups are not as visible as we would wish. We address the issue of data gaps in Chapter 15 of the full Review.

Some of the findings that follow will be familiar, documented over many years of academic and research study, but are no less important for that; an old injustice is still an injustice. For example, the pay gap between men and women remains significant, and progress to eliminating it may have stalled. Other findings will surprise. All should provoke action.

Data gaps

The Review contains a lot of information. In some cases, though, it highlights what we don’t know. There are several ways in which we lack reliable information to tell whether the ideals of equality and fairness are being translated into a practical change for the better in people’s real lives.

In some cases we lack information altogether. For instance, we do not have a reliable baseline estimate about how many people identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Without this information, it is hard to begin to gauge the extent to which different institutions reflect these populations or meet their needs. We also lack basic information about
people who are institutionalised, and people who do not live in fixed locations. In some cases, small-scale studies and the other, limited, available evidence suggest that these may also be among some of society’s most marginalised and vulnerable groups.

In other cases, we have some information about different groups, but it is not always sophisticated enough to allow us to draw useful inferences. We have some data about disabled people’s experiences, for example, but in most cases the
way the data are collected does not make a distinction between the experiences of (say) a 20-year-old who has been blind since birth, and an 80-year-old who has recently begun to use a wheelchair following an accident, when in fact these two people might have very different needs and expectations.

Better use of existing data sources, and more sophisticated data collection techniques, would allow us to understand better the various needs and aspirations of different people. This is prerequisite to understanding whether and how we are making progress as a society towards greater equality. We recommend, therefore, that data providers and commissioners should work together to improve the available equality data, and to use more effectively the data that are already available at local and national level.

> Go to the significant challenges

Last Updated: 05 Oct 2010