Why Is Muslim Unemployment So High?

Maralyn Parker published an article this week in the SMH resulting from an interview with Professor Riaz Hassan of Flinders University. Late last year he wrote a report based on the 2006 Census data indicating that unemployment in the younger (19-24 year old) Muslim community is twice the rate of the national average (18% versus 9%).  This, despite the fact that Muslims are more likely to have tertiary qualifications than non-Muslims.

Professor Hassan also makes the points in his report that the rate of poverty amongst Muslim children is 40% versus 20% for the general population (albeit a very subjective measure) and the rate of prison incarceration is significantly higher for Muslim populations in European countries, citing the U.K. and France (where Muslims number 8% of the country but 50% of the prison population).

Ms. Parker is sure that there are two explanations for this discrepency;

i) the proliferation of Islamic schools in Australia leading to marginalised Muslim youth unable to get ahead in an otherwise Anglo/Chinese country.

ii) ‘discrimination’ by non-Muslim Australia against Muslims

She has two solutions;

i) Stop the spread of religious schools and regulate existing ones much more tightly

ii) Encourage businesses to employ Muslims

‘Perhaps we can start a campaign to help by telling employers _ do your bit for Australia, employ a Muslim Australian.’

The U.K.’s education watchdog, OFSTED, now publishes GCSE exam results (Year 10) by ethnic group. This information reveals much more interesting information.  In fact, it is a wonderful report to show your racist (sorry, ‘race realist’) friends as it reveals that far from indigenous white kids stealing the show, the best performers are those with yellow and brown skins. But within the ‘brown skin’ category, there is a marked difference between the performance of non-Muslims (largely Indians) and Muslims (Pakistanis and Bangladeshis).  Far from pointing to genetic effects in intellect and effort, this data suggests cultural differences are far more important.

A rather more intelligent line of questioning than the SMH is taken by a post on Muslim Village.  They pose the following;

1. Is there discrimination in the workforce and is this one of the reasons for the higher unemployment rate?
2. Are Muslims obtaining degrees but not choosing to work, instead opting for a more family orientated role?
3. Are Muslims putting their deen
[way of life] before a career?
4. Are there not enough suitable jobs for Muslims due to certain industries being prohibited?

From my own personal experience i would agree that Muslims are discriminated against in the workplace (i’ve seen first hand evidence many times). Some employers (though generally not the larger ones) are nervous of hiring Muslims for fear of litigation down the road (justified or otherwise). A small business needs flexibility in its workforce to survive. The thought of being dragged through the courts on charges of racism or Islamophobia almost certainly deters some smaller business owners.   This is an issue both communities need to work out.

On the subject of religious schools, i am torn. Every libertarian bone in my body argues that parents should be free to choose the education for their children. Parents will ultimately make decisions in the interests of their children and will not choose to send them to schools that will harm their employment prospects later in life. But every pragmatic bone suggests that this view is naive and not working. Religious schools breed difference and marginalisation.  

Finally, i would add one further explanation for the large differential in employment.  There is a anti-school, anti-work, aggressive culture amongst many young Muslim males. These boys are often ‘pampered by their mothers’ as you will see on numerous Muslim forums.  This is a problem the Muslim community needs to address.

44 thoughts on “Why Is Muslim Unemployment So High?

  1. “Anglo/Chinese country” :). I’m glad you think this Pommy, although since there are really very few Chinese in Australia as a proportion of the population, it seems unlikely.
    .
    More to the point —
    1) I very much doubt that most muslim kids growing up in Australia are especially affected by going to Islamic schools in any negative way (any evidence?). It’s not like they don’t have to walk down the street after school. To me the interesting thing would be to look at how well they are doing in terms of educational outcomes — I think this would be far more important a predictor — No kid who gets 100% for their TER is going to end up unemployed. My bet (I should look the figures up sometime) is that some of the Islamic schools are performing poorly for a variety of reasons, and if you compared unemployment rates with similar non-religious schools, you wouldn’t find much difference.

    2) “There is a anti-school, anti-work, aggressive culture amongst many young Muslim males.”. This is the same complaint people make in various places (especially Melbourne) about certain Southern European groups — the annoying variety of which are termed “Muzzas” (which is no-doubt not dissimilar to Aussie-dickhead culture). To get some idea of how important it is, you’d need to look at how common it really is before making any claims about its importance. At least with Muzza groups, whilst they can be annoying, it seems to be transitory, in that they grow out of it and hence you don’t see many older Muzzas (and I assume they get jobs etc.). Is this not happening with the Islamic variety?

  2. conrad – good point :)

    i’m way too Sydney-centric.

    with regard to point 2) – it’s completely different to past criticisms of Southern Europeans. There, the first generation (understandably) stuck to their own communities but subsequent generations moved on an out into the wider Aussie/European communities.

    however, 2nd and 3rd generation Muslims here an in Europe are showing little sign of integrating. thats the concern.

    It’s also a male problem – if you bring up boys to believe they are superior to their sisters, they will act accordingly.

  3. True enough, Pommy. Southern Europeans were likely to be Christians, therefore more compatible with local culture. Islam has some features in common with Christianity, but the differences (such as a ‘divine’ command to women to wear tents all the time, and a qoranic endorsement of slavery) are great!

  4. Why is Parker so sure it’s the schools? It’s certainly possible, but why so sure?

    And maybe it isn’t the seclusion, but the quality. Marginalisation doesn’t preclude employment (or other indicators of socio-economic success) – just look at those Orthodox Jewish schools.

    Your libertarian instincts are right. Breeding difference is a big reason why private schools should be allowed to proliferate – someone’s bound to get it right. Those who get it wrong, tough shit.

    I sometimes get asked, “What if a private religious school doesn’t want to teach evolution?” The answer is, who cares? The kids won’t be able to be good biologists (and associated trades), but is that such a bad thing? And if the end result is ignorant alumni, then that reputation will spread and parents will think twice about sending their kids there. It certainly won’t become the norm, as is possible when government controls the curriculum.

  5. Hmmm, the SMH publishes an article encouraging people to employ Muslims, yet has columnists who suggest we should forget about the arsonists and hang greenies from lamp posts for encouraging the growth of vegetation and protecting forests.

  6. One of my best friends is Muslim and observes Ramadan. She says it’s really difficult explaining Ramadan to people who don’t know anything about Islam, and it does affect her productivity for that month, as she gets tired a lot more quickly than usual. She sometimes wishes she worked in a Muslim majority country because it would be easier there. Apparently it’s understood that you’ll be tired and lacking in energy over Ramadan.

    My friend has been shockingly discriminated against at the workplace. One boss who hired her didn’t realise she was Muslim and said some terrible things. My friend pointed out that she herself was Muslim, and this woman started bullying her appallingly. The boss also criticised my friend’s fasting during Ramadan, and her general refusal to drink alcohol (if you don’t get p*ssed, you’re not a team player). The boss wouldn’t let my friend have leave off for Eid. My friend ended up having to leave that workplace.

  7. .The kids won’t be able to be good biologists (and associated trades), but is that such a bad thing?

    Really? Why would that be Jarrah?
    ————–

    Pom

    My understanding is all schools have to meet the syllabus s set by the state. So at first blush the reason may not actually be teaching or syllabus related. In fact the standards could be high.

    It could be because of the other 1/2 of Darwin’s theory that lefties refuse to believe which suggests racial differences between the races doesn’t necessarily stop at the neck.

    Here’s some national IQ’s

    Lebanon 86/ 100 average

    Iran 84

    Egypt 83

    Iraq 87

    Ethiopia 63

    Honkers 106 a the top.

    most of Europe cluster around 100.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IQ_and_the_Wealth_of_Nations

    You could get Einstein to teach kids Physics, however if IQ isn’t around average you could use a pic ax but that stuff isn’t going to sink in no matter how much money or resources is thrown at it.

    So all this new money we’re funneling to so-called non -performing schools could simply be going the drain pipe of bad policy. It could very well be that those schools marked as disadvantaged because of locality are not performing well because of simple denial of reality.

  8. There is a anti-school, anti-work, aggressive culture amongst many young Muslim males.

    No question about that. I’m not sure if it’s all Muslim or just Muslim Australians though. The Australian woman and her Australian born sons who were recently arrested in Kuwait were fairly obviously aggressive to the local authorities, but received less sympathy than they would get here.

    I’ve had Muslim Lebanese renderers who wanted to fight anyone they didn’t love. A Christian Lebanese renderer who came in after them was relaxed with everyone. The difference was black and white.

  9. She says it’s really difficult explaining Ramadan to people who don’t know anything about Islam, and it does affect her productivity for that month, as she gets tired a lot more quickly than usual.

    And Legal Eagle still can’t see why Muslim unemployment is higher.

    When I employ contractors I usually make a level of assessment on their value system, work ethic etc, in addition to their skills and experience. I have no problem employing people who are religious (and, indeed, I’m not free to discriminate on this criteria), but if that value system seems destructive then they slip down the shortlist.

  10. “It could be because of the other 1/2 of Darwin’s theory that lefties refuse to believe which suggests racial differences between the races doesn’t necessarily stop at the neck”

    JC, please learn some modern genetics. What you’ll find is that some of the problem groups in Australia have an essentially identical DNA distribution to Europeans (like the Lebanese). In addition, I haven’t seen anything on it, but if you are thinking about genetic variance, then the north-south split in Europeans is probably more important than country borders (i.e., “Europe” vs. the rest). That means the stocky guys with big noses and lots of body hair from the south of Europe (possibly you if you are from Nice), are going to be genetically more similar to some of the problem groups than, say, the big white guys from Northern Europe are to you.

    Try having a look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_genetic_variation
    for a start.

    Incidentally, I’m happy to believe that it is likely that there are genetic differences between races that lead to IQ differences (although they could be things that have nothing to do with cognitive processing per se, like susceptibility to alcoholism or developmental neurotoxins) — just not for some of the ones that are important here (or the UK, when comparing Indians vs. Pakistanis).

  11. has columnists who suggest we should forget about the arsonists and hang greenies from lamp posts for encouraging the growth of vegetation and protecting forests.

    Protecting “forests” which happen to be located on people’s private property and endangering their lives and homes.

    That’s what people want to string Greenies up for. Valuing trees over human life.

    One of the individuals highlighted in the news was fined $50,000 for clearing trees within 100m of his house.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/fined-for-illegal-clearing-family-now-feel-vindicated-20090212-85bd.html

  12. Aye, though reading the column you get a feeling the is simply using the opportunity to claim Greenies should be hanged. In the end, it’s not the Greens who enforced it, but the government. Under the Liberals, too.

  13. I believe the references was to greenies with a lower case “g” not the upper case variety. In which case the criticism was not targeted at a particular political party but at an ethos that has infected the thinking of policy makers. Policy makers who may belong to any of the political parties.

    The issue of trees is vastly simpler than the issue of abortion. My land, my trees, my decision. What gets me are those greenies who readily advocate for a womens choice in the termination of an undeveloped human but somehow get all sanctimonous about trees. “My land, my trees, my decision” is a lot more clear cut (no pun intended) than “a womans choice”. And if the tree threatens your life those that oppose the argument are being riddiculously stupid and might need a reference to some lamp posts to shock some bloody sense into them.

  14. Muslims have a rather stupid religion. However so long as they are not hurting anybody they should be free to enjoy the benefits and suffer the consequences of their beliefs. Who needs a job anyway if life is just a test before the real deal comes in the here after.

    If we removed the minimum wage and the EMTR disincentives to work then instead of high unemployment this group would instead suffer lower wages (all else being equal). This would be a vastly better outcome and would integrate people far more within the mainstream whilst allowing them to simply pay for their personal choices (via lower wages). Of course it would also improve the situation of other socially marginalised groups.

    JC – muslim isn’t a race. Even white guys like Cat Stevens can be muslims.

  15. Pommy – some of us Aussies are not Anglo, Chinese or Muslim. A lot of the white fellas are Celts. And some like me are nordic. I actually think the term “white” or “european” better describes the particular cultural/racial block you are interested in referencing more so than anglo.

  16. Muslims have a rather stupid religion. However so long as they are not hurting anybody they should be free to enjoy the benefits and suffer the consequences of their beliefs. Who needs a job anyway if life is just a test before the real deal comes in the here after.

    It’s not the religion. The US has a large Muslim population and they tend to be better educated and more wealthy than the average.

    In my view, the issues in Australia are a function of the sorts of migrants that came to the country and our social security system.

  17. Amir – I’m not convinced it is all about religion. However social security isn’t trageted merely at muslim immigrants. So that leaves your theory about “the sort of migrants” that came here. Would you care to ellaborate on this?

  18. p.s. Just to labour the point muslims are not unique in have a rather stupid religion. And other groups with stupid religions seem to do okay.

  19. [i]with regard to point 2) – it’s completely different to past criticisms of Southern Europeans. There, the first generation (understandably) stuck to their own communities but subsequent generations moved on an out into the wider Aussie/European communities.

    however, 2nd and 3rd generation Muslims here an in Europe are showing little sign of integrating. thats the concern.[/i]

    I disagree with the notion that 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants of the past integrated easily.

    Wasn’t there a lot of “lazy wogs” in the 80s? I’ve heard that one of the reasons disability payments were cracked down here in Victoria on was because a lot of 2nd-3rd generation immigrants were claiming them for “bad backs” while driving around in their hotted up cards picking up chicks.

    Just from observation it seems like a lot of young muslim males are continuing on in the “wog” tradition. Driving around in their hotted up “doof-doof” cars, picking up chicks. I live in Narre Warren and my boyfriend went to high school with a lot of muslims. Most of them are quite irreligious. Most of them are just “fully sick, bro”, Fat Pizza-esqe types.

    I think Amir has an interesting point, though. Perhaps Australia’s welfare system is what appeals to potential immigrants. Maybe people come to Australia because of the ease of living off welfare. Unlike America where people immigrate to, to better themselves. It seems welfare, and the ease of welfare for immigrants to get, is the culprit.

    Australian welfare breeds lazy, 19-24 year old males that are happy not to integrate. Just pick up chicks in their hotted up cars. Of course, there’s a lot of Aussie bloke types that do the same, too.

    Oh and re: education. A lot of the muslim kids in my area that I’m talking about are public school educated. I think it’s problematic, but it’s something they’ll grow out of. And it’s no different to other welfare dependent groups that like to be lazy and live off other people’s purses. I’m sure there’s legitimate discrimination that leads to unemployment, too. But from what I’ve seen the younger generation celebrate Ramadan as a cultural thing- much like those born as Catholics might still celebrate Lent, while being rather irreligious in the rest of their lives.

  20. If you look up the history of Spain, there were still Muslims and crypto-Muslims (fake converts) there for about a century after the Reconquista. One of the social stresses that came up was that they were better workers than Christians where the two groups competed. Of course, that’s comparing all remaining Muslims with the lower class Christians, and also the Muslims were in regions where they had been all along and were familiar with (say) local agricultural needs whereas the Christians were often newcomers to the areas involved (until the authorities did forced relocations within Spain, which happened quite late, only just before the final exile). So a different pattern of selection and migration had a different result, and it didn’t correlate the same way with religion as today.

  21. By that I mean, recent Muslim migration to Australia was largely unskilled and/or refugees, which is an entirely different demographic to that which who went to the US (as skilled immigrants). There are also contrasts within the Muslim community: some ethnic groups appear to have a bigger issue with unemployment than others. One doesn’t tend to see the same issues in the Pakistani or Egyptian community as one sees in the Lebanese community (for example).

    My point about the social security system is that, if you are an unskilled migrant with a willingness to have a large family, there is very little incentive to work; in fact, there is a tremendous incentive not to work because you can earn far more on the dole (given enough kids) than you would ever be able to earn if you worked.

  22. One doesn’t tend to see the same issues in the Pakistani or Egyptian community as one sees in the Lebanese community (for example).

    That’s true – it’s the Lebanese Muslims that stand out. I’ve known heaps of Turkish Muslims who integrated into Australian life equally as well as Christian Lebanese.

    Perhaps we are talking about a sub-culture.

  23. JC – muslim isn’t a race. Even white guys like Cat Stevens can be muslims.

    Terje, I wish you could learn to comprehend. Where did I sau it was a race? Please point me to where i suggested it was.

    Are Hong Konger’s Muslim?

    Amir

    You make a good point that the Wall Street Journal claimed several years ago, which was that the US had the most successful Muslim migration in the world world with average income in the group double the national average.

    Despite Terje’s claim, race may be the distinguishing feature and not religion necessarily.

  24. “race may be the distinguishing feature”
    .
    I think you mean culture, and not race, since I’ll bet, for example, the Lebanese Christians in Vic do better than their Sydney counterparts.

  25. JC – I did not say that you said Muslim was a race (even though some comment about leftists, IQ and racial differences not stopping at the neck does comes to mind). I merely pointed out that Muslim isn’t a race as a pre-emptive measure so that you wouldn’t confuse yourself. ;-)

    DavidL – I can’t say I share your positive experiences in regards to Turkish Muslims. Sad but true. I’ve worked for a Muslim (turkish), been good buddies with a Muslim (French/Iranian) and taken one Muslim to court. In spite of getting along in a civil manner with all of them they were all dodgy (ie very dishonest people). All my significant personal references suggest that they have some warped values. However Amir seems like a good chap and I’ve had positive casual encounters with Muslims.

  26. Terje
    muslim isn’t a race. Even white guys like Cat Stevens can be muslims.

    Ummm Well you are suggesting that’s what I was saying, no?

    Conrad:
    I think you mean culture, and not race, since I’ll bet, for example, the Lebanese Christians in Vic do better than their Sydney counterparts.

    The IQ stats are an average which by definition means that there are some people sitting above and below, so having one group above the average shouldn’t be a surprise, or perhaps average means something else? :-)

  27. I must say it is refreshing to see a blog discussing Muslims in a vaguely sensible way, even with some differences of opinion.

    Leftie blogs tend to focus on how it’s all the evil Western imperialists fault, and if it weren’t for Bush, Blair and Howard they would be making daisy chains and singing kumbaya (or the Koranic equivalent). Rightwing blogs show a bit more courage in identifying the real causes of problems, but they have their share of nutters who are convinced Islam is an evil death cult. Neither is helpful – in my view Islam is not all that different from Christianity (the same stories are in the Koran and the Bible), but it has some serious problems with the way people practice and interpret it currently.

    The most sensible commentary on the causes of these problems actually came from a Muslim (though bizarrely a lesbian one who accordingly is subject to contant death threats), Irshad Manji, who argues that the Muslim world needs to go through a Reformation like Christians did in the Middle Ages. I think she’s spot on. We (I’m agnostic but am referring to my European ancestors) were pretty fundamentalist about the time of the Crusades, but out of the Middle Ages we got separation of church and state, which ensured secular governments and also paved the way for the Enlightenment.

    The Muslim world had their golden age in the seventh – ninth century, but with very few exceptions (e.g. secular Turkey, though I don’t count the wealthy oil countries as particularly progressive, just lucky) haven’t moved on since then. As Mark Steyn points out, the hardline, no-compromise fundamentalist Wahabbism is now gaining ground, at the expense of the more moderate versions.

    It’s as if, in the Western world, the Westboro Baptist Church (of ‘God Hates fags’ and ‘God hates Sweden’ fame) were mega wealthy and actually ran the government of several countries, and were the most influential sect of Christianity. Further they controlled the media and schools and taught everyone from an early age what an abomination homosexuality and Swedish people are.

    It’s difficult to generalise from personal experience; I work with a couple of colleagues who observe Ramadan faithfully, and I didn’t notice any decline in productivity, though they moaned a bit towards the end. As far as Eid went they just took annual leave (they got the Christmas public holidays as well). It doesn’t bother me at all that they practice their religion, and if they want to isolate themselves I guess that’s Ok, if unfortunate for them. I am a bit concerned about their attitudes towards women, but I would hope in a country like Australia muslim women have some reasonable protection under the law.

    However, like any other religion, there should be special treatment, no immunity for criticism, and no changing of laws to suit their specific requirements. If any of this is met with threats of violence it should be dealt with appropriately, not caved into like the Brits seem to be doing

  28. Why don’t we pass a law to raise everyone above the average? Problem solves!
    And I wonder if Muslim men would be prepared to accept orders from women? In the NSW Public Service, we do have women in power, and the muslims amongst us accept that, but is that true in the wider community?

  29. Amir – you make some good points – ease of access to welfare unites Europe and Australia – its definitely a major factor. but it still doesnt exaplain why muslim groups are so susceptible to low employment. i maintina the view that culture is equally important.

    i believe we need to be specific – we dont have a ‘muslim’ problem – we have a ‘young male muslim’ problem.

    i have witnessed at first hand numerous times the lack of emphasis placed on study and advancement that is such a factor in indian and chinese families and to a lesser extent anglo (i will continue to use the term, terje, tho i note your nordic objection) families. the uk exam results back up this theory.

  30. Can’t we just say ‘caucasians’, or would that be offensive to the good people of Azerbaijan, Gerogia, Abkhazia etc? ;-)

  31. i believe we need to be specific – we dont have a ‘muslim’ problem – we have a ‘young male muslim’ problem.

    I don’t think that is being specific enough. We don’t have a problem with young male Muslims of Pakistani/Indian/Albanian/Turkish/Indonesian/Egyptian/etc extraction, we have a problem in (mostly) certain sections of the Lebanese community in (mostly) South West Sydney. To a large extent, these problems transcend religion: for example, many of the leaders of Lebanese crime organisations are Lebanese Christians.

  32. G’day,

    The main problem is easy access to welfare payments. Put a limit on their access to government payments and give them other options- work or a one way ticket to the Muslim country of their choice. That would quickly fix the problem.

    ta

    Ralph

  33. #7 Legal Eagle said it the best.
    I am a white American and, I converted to Muslim a couple of years ago. My wife is from Indonesia, where unemployment is extremely high. Today is day 1 of Ramadan, and it just kills me. Even though it’s saturday, I have to work today. We live in Singapore, and it’s always ht and humid, and she doesn’t understand why I get to irritated when fasting, especially going without water in this weather. I complain to her that it’s easy for people in Indo to do it because most lay around all day sleeping, resting and expending no energy. Of course she complains and tries to defend it. I just cam home from work, and what was she doing?? Sleeping.

  34. that is so racist how bout help aussies why are these people even here get rid of them they dont belong here they are doing more damage than good they cause hate anger and pain they are vermin they are terroists… not all muslims are terroists but all terroists are muslim…

  35. Google “SHAME, THE ARAB PSYCHE, AND ISLAM” for a really well-researched article that has some relevance. My comment after that article would be that perhaps the “arabic” influence is greatest amongst the Lebanese than the other muslim groups mentioned here.

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