Economic and social disparities

econmic disparity by religion australia 2011

From The Australian today, Statistics lay bare stark economic and social disparities for Muslims. The stats are from the story which begins:

The dictionary defines assimilation as the ability of groups to succeed and prosper in societies built on different religious and cultural building blocks. The idea is always controversial and raises fundamental questions about how far people with vastly different belief systems and social practices need to “change” to succeed in the society where they have been implanted.

Do they need to change at all? Can nations operate coherently as what former prime minister John Howard described as a “federation of cultures”? Is a single culture even feasible in a global, mobile world where diversity is a hallmark of every society? Where is the magical line where integration reaches a viable point of cohesion?

The assimilation, or social integration, issue has risen most starkly in Australia in recent years through the growth of the nation’s Muslim community against the backdrop of terrorist activity across the world and growing examples of young Australian Muslims being radicalised and joining extreme Islamic groups in the Middle East.

Domestically the struggle of many Muslims to infiltrate Australia’s economic mainstream is evident in poor employment outcomes, a mismatch between their relatively high skill and education rates and jobs secured, high welfare dependency, low home ownership and a high incidence of household poverty.

Most research suggests that some of the employment problems relate to discrimination against people who are visibly Muslim. However, for women in particular, there are also religious-based employment restrictions that vastly limit acceptable job options and leave many permanently disenfranchised from mainstream work.