Skip to content

Trends in general health and unpaid care provision between ethnic groups, 2011

Ethnic variations in general health and unpaid care provision in England and Wales

In the 2011 Census, questions were asked on general health, unpaid care provision and ethnicity. This provided an opportunity to examine the inequality in general health and unpaid care provision between ethnic groups, and to identify whether providing unpaid care affects the general health of different ethnic groups more markedly than others.

The infographic shows the key messages identified in the short story published by ONS on Ethnic Variations in General Health and Unpaid Care Provision.

Ethnic variations in general health

In 2011, the African ethnic group had the lowest proportion of people reporting ‘Not Good’ general health at 8.4%, whereas people in the Gypsy or Irish Traveller ethnic group had the highest proportion of ‘Not Good’ general health at 29.8%. For most ethnic groups, ‘Not Good’ general health related to age, for instance general health became worse as people got older. However, in some ethnic groups factors like accessibility to health care services, lifestyle choices, cultural influences and socioeconomic factors were more likely to influence their reporting of ‘Not Good’ general health.

Ethnic variations in unpaid care provision

The three highest providers of unpaid care provision were within the White ethnic group, with British providing 11.1%, Irish 11.0% and Gypsy or Irish Traveller 10.7%. Whereas, the lowest proportion of unpaid carers was within the White and Black African (4.9%), Chinese (5.3%), White and Asian (5.3%) and Other White (5.3%) ethnic groups. For all ethnic groups, the most common length of time spent providing unpaid care was 1 to 19 hours per week. Although, the Gypsy or Irish Traveller ethnic group provided 50 or more hours of unpaid care per week.

Impact of providing unpaid care provision on general health

For all ethnic groups, as the level of unpaid care provision increased from 1 to 19 hours to 50 or more hours per week, the proportion of people with ‘Not Good’ health increased. As would be expected, those with no unpaid care responsibilities had lower levels of ‘Not Good’ general health than those providing unpaid care.

The only exception was the Irish ethnic group, who had higher levels of ‘Not Good’ health for those providing no unpaid care than those providing 1 to 19 hours of unpaid care per week. This likely reflects the older age-structure (median age = 53) of the Irish population in England and Wales. People of retirement age and above are more likely to be receiving care rather than providing it due to ill-health.

People in the White and Asian ethnic group providing 50 or more hours of unpaid care per week were 4.3 times more likely to have ‘Not Good’ general health compared to someone in the same group who provided no unpaid care. In contrast, the Irish ethnic group were only 1.8 times more likely, reflecting the higher proportion of people providing no unpaid care with ‘Not Good’ health.

For the data behind this infographic, as well as further details on ethnic variations in general health and unpaid care provision, please see the short story. 


1. ‘Not Good’ general health was derived from those who answered ‘fair’, ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ to the health question in the 2011 Census.

2. ‘Some’ unpaid care refers to the combined total of 1-19 hours, 20-49 hours and 50 hours or more unpaid care provided per week.

3. Median age refers to the central age of the population in that specific ethnic group.


If you have any comments or suggestions, we'd like to hear them. Please email us at:

Categories: Health and Social Care, Health of the Population, Health Inequalities, Disability and Self-reported Health, Social Care, Social Care Clients, People and Places, People, Identity, Ethnicity and Identity
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.