Article

Unemployment and religion in Northern Ireland.

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Abstract

Examines recent data on the employment status of Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. In particular, the 1981 Population Census and the new Continuous Household Survey are used to compare rates of unemployment for the two religious groups in the early 1980s with those found in 1971. Explanations for differences in unemployment rates are considered briefly. -Authors

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... For example, although Catholics had lower ageparticipation rates in higher education as late as 1973, they had largely caught up by 1979 (Osborne et al., 1984). However, official statistics published in 1985 showed that fewer adult Catholics (39%) than adult Protestants (46%) had any qualifications (Osborne & Cormack, 1986). Although educational differences might have been expected to disadvantage Catholics in the hiring process, it was unclear to what extent (Teague, 1997). ...
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Ethnic and religious differentials in labour market outcomes within many countries have been remarkably persistent. Yet one very well‐known differential—the Catholic/Protestant unemployment differential in Northern Ireland—has largely (although not completely) disappeared. This paper charts its decline since the early 1980s and examines potential explanations using Census data from 1991, 2001 and 2011 together with annual survey data. These data span the ending of The Troubles, the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the introduction of fair employment legislation, growth in hidden unemployment and major structural changes in Northern Ireland. We assess the potential impact of these changes.
... Citizens' insecurities placed additional strain on what scholars (e.g. Osborne, 1980Osborne, , 1986Harris, 1986;Cormack & Osborne, 1991;McCormack et al. 1990, Sheehan andTomlinson, 1999) describe as an already segmented labor market. Many residents would not risk traveling through or to certain neighborhoods for work (Cormack and Osborne, 1983). ...
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Northern Ireland is an excellent test case of the impact of fair employment, affirmative action and equality measures on ethno-communal conflict. From deep and historically entrenched inequality on a multiplicity of dimensions, a disadvantaged Catholic population only very slowly – and with the help of a range of allies in the US, and emerging international equality norms – got increasingly strong equality measures enacted, and very unevenly moved closer to a position of equality and indeed power. This population had traditionally mobilised on a nationalist rather than an egalitarian platform. In the 1960s, and again in the 1980s, for reasons which we discuss below, issues of economic inequality came high onto the political agenda. Since 1998, there has been a political settlement on the basis of a substantive improvement in the condition of Catholics there on all measures – economic, political and cultural - while leaving the national question open for the future. Equality is neither perfectly assured nor stable, and national identities and oppositions remain salient, yet there is a discernible identity shift and change in the urgency of nationalist aims, which appear to be related to the equality measures. The intellectual challenge is to pull apart the various strands of causality, to see how equality (for the purposes of this paper, economic equality and in particular, affirmative action measures) contributed to this.
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Fair employment policy in Northern Ireland, which concerns the employment prospects of Protestants and Catholics, was substantially revamped in 1989, and, it is suggested, was significantly influenced by Canadian policy. This article sets out the main elements of the policies in the two jurisdictions and illustrates the ‘learning and exchange process’. The next stage of ‘policy learning’ could lead to greater Canadian appreciation of the Northern Ireland approach; Robert Osborne concludes by considering how this example adds to the general understanding of policy developments in Northern Ireland.
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Thirty Catholic and thirty Protestant students rated 60 Northern Irish towns for violence, unemployment and denominational composition. Correlations between the scales and objective data indicated that subjects' perceptions had considerable validity overall, though not for the smallest towns. High inter-group correlations suggested that Catholics and Protestants were using similar information to form judgements, even when their judgements were wrong. In a second study, 34 further subjects rated the same towns on scales of personal familiarity and knowledge. These scales correlated well with population data confirming the importance of information availability in judgement formation. Analyses suggested that subjects were forming judgements rationally, even in the presence of limited information, and that ‘media-worthy’ events might play a special role in their thinking.
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The relationship between evaluation of group identity and group serving attributional biases was examined among Protestant and Catholic school children in Northern Ireland. Participants were presented with a series of vignettes. These depicted ingroup and outgroup targets who engaged in positive and negative behavior. After attributing cause to the target's behavior, the extent to which participants identified with their respective groups was then assessed. Members of the Catholic group displayed enhanced levels of group serving attributional biases. They were also shown to have less positive group identification scores. These patterns are consistent with the lower status position of this category. Contrary to expectations, the only significant correlations between attributional differentiation and strength of group identity were found among members of the Protestant category. Members of this group emitted more ambivalent attributional patterns. These findings are interpreted as suggesting that, in this particular context, high status group members evaluate their group identity positively by displaying more subtle forms of bias. One limitation of the present study is its reliance on the on the distinction between internal and external attributional dimensions. It is suggested that future research should move beyond this dichotomy and incorporate a multidimensional approach to the study of intergroup causal dimensions.
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"Northern Ireland has demographic and socio-economic structures which set it apart from the rest of the United Kingdom and religion impacts on this social demography more than in any other 'developed' society. Peripherality also serves to underpin some of the distinctiveness of the Province. Socio-economic and demographic data from Population Censuses and demographic data from Annual Reports of the Registrar General are analysed. The socio-demographic trends between 1971, 1981 and 1991 are traced and the spatial patterns are described. Many of the spatial patterns have been remarkably persistent over time and the problems that arise from this are unlikely to be addressed fully given the Province's perverse polity."
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