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England's social classes slow to evolve
New research from LSE shows that the class structure in England is evolving far more slowly than previously believed.
A study of surname distributions over the past 800 years reveals it takes at least half a millennium for the UK’s elite class to shake off their lineage and converge with the average members of society - at least 400 years slower than economists had earlier predicted.
Dr Neil Cummins, an economic historian from LSE, says that despite significant political, industrial, social and economic changes over the past eight centuries, social mobility in England has been much slower.
"Just take the names of the Normans who conquered England nearly 1,000 years ago. Surnames such as Baskerville, Darcy, Mandeville and Montgomery are still over-represented at Oxbridge and also among elite occupations such as medicine, law and politics," Dr Cummins says. More
Raise household income to improve children's educational, health and social outcomes
Children in lower-income households do less well in school and have worse health than their better-off peers in part because they are poorer, researchers from LSE have found.
While it is well established that children in lower-income households do less well than their more wealthy peers, it has to date been unclear whether low income is itself a cause of lower achievement, or simply correlated with other key factors such as lower parental education. The report, published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on Tuesday 22 October, finds that low income directly affects measures of a child’s wellbeing and development.
Kerris Cooper and Kitty Stewart from LSE’s Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion reviewed 34 studies from OECD and European Union countries with strong evidence about whether money affects children’s health, social, behavioural and cognitive outcomes. All the studies use methods that allow researchers to be confident that they are investigating causal relationships, not just associations. More
Net Children Go Mobile releases first report
The first report of Net Children Go Mobile (NCGM) was published on Thursday 17 October. NCGM is a European research project and researchers from LSE’s Department of Media and Communications were involved in designing the project proposal, choosing research questions, designing the survey and commenting on the report during its drafting
Net Children Go Mobile: mobile internet access and use among European children, authored by Giovanna Mascheroni, Università Cattolica del S. Cuore, and Kjartan Olafsson, a visiting fellow at LSE, investigates how, where, and at what age children go online, and which activities they engage in on the internet. The report shows that in the countries surveyed on average 53 per cent own a smartphone (58 per cent in the UK) and 48 per cent (56 per cent in the UK) use it daily to go online.
Internet use is increasingly becoming private, the report finds. Despite the fact that smartphones are the devices most likely to be used on the move, smartphone use itself is mainly domestic: on average across the countries surveyed 39 per cent of children use smartphones every day in the privacy of their own bedroom, 37 per cent in another room at home, 23 per cent in schools and 26 per cent when out and about.
The findings reveal that children are increasingly using smartphones for social activities such as social networking, entertainment on media sharing platforms, and sharing content. Children’s preferences did vary according to country, with fewer children in the UK having social network site profiles (58 per cent) when compared to the other participating countries (average 70 per cent). This, in large part, reflects the fact that the UK has fewer underage users when compared to other European countries.
For more information, visit www.netchildrengomobile.eu/project.
LSE counselling report launched in parliament
More funding directed towards counselling and psychotherapy services in the UK could help curb escalating costs in public and mental health and ensure the country’s future wellbeing.
This is the consensus of an independent report by LSE launched at the House of Commons on Tuesday 15 October.
Commissioned by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the report looks at the economic benefits of therapy in the wake of increasing healthcare costs, as well as ongoing constraints on health spending.
Professor Martin Knapp, Director of the Personal Social Services Research Unit and Professor of Social Policy at LSE, who authored the BACP commissioned report, says: "A therapeutic treatment that improves health will often have economic benefits. Partly, this is because healthier individuals make fewer demands on the health care system, and partly because healthier individuals are economically more productive, either through paid work or through their non-work activities such as caring for someone else, volunteering or studying."
It is intended that the policy paper will provide an evidence-informed perspective to demonstrate the contribution of counselling and psychotherapy to improving public health across all age ranges and across a range of physical and mental health conditions. More
Europe needs to pull together, says former foreign policy chief
A report launched at LSE by former foreign policy chief Dr Javier Solana argues for a revival of the European spirit.
The report, A Strategy for Southern Europe, also calls on Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal to develop common policies with the rest of Europe on migration, maritime security, energy and defence.
Prepared by LSE IDEAS, the report analyses the economic, political and social upheavals experienced by Southern Europe in the past five years.
Professor Michael Cox, Founding Director of LSE IDEAS, said: "Southern Europe is pivotal to contemporary economic and security debates, yet its regional identity and integration are under-acknowledged. This report, and the establishment of the Southern Europe International Affairs Programme at IDEAS, seeks to redress that by highlighting the importance and potential of the region." More
Monetary policy is less powerful in recessions
Changes to key interest rates by central banks have a significant impact on economic activity during periods when the economy is expanding. Unfortunately, they seem to have virtually no effect during recessions - the time when the stimulus of monetary policy is most needed.
These are the central findings of research by Professor Silvana Tenreyro and Gregory Thwaites, published by the new Centre for Macroeconomics at LSE.
The study focuses on the Fed Funds Rate, the main monetary policy instrument used by the US Federal Reserve and the counterpart of the Bank Rate set monthly by the Bank of England. The researchers explore the effect of changes in this ‘policy rate’ on US macroeconomic activity over a 40-year period - from 1969 until 2008. Whether central bank interventions of this kind can stimulate activity is a key issue for policy.
The analysis shows that nearly all of the effect of the policy rate on economic activity over the business cycle is attributable to changes made during good times - and it is particularly driven by the responsiveness to rate changes of business investment and consumer spending on durable goods. More
LSE report calls for a Digital-Age Convention on the Rights of the Child
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and children’s charities need to rethink how digital technology and communications are affecting the rights of children around the world, according to a new report from LSE.
The report, A Global Agenda for Children’s Rights in the Digital Age: recommendations for developing UNICEF’s research strategy, by Professor Sonia Livingstone and Dr Monica Bulger of LSE, argues that UNICEF should adopt new research methods in order to get robust evidence on how children are using information and communication technology (ICT), and how this may affect their rights and wellbeing.
Even though children’s digital activities are growing quickly, many of the creative and interactive features of the internet remain substantially underused, especially in lower-income countries and among marginalised children. The growth in ICT around the world is also increasing ‘offline risks’ such as bullying, exposure to pornography and unwanted sexual solicitation. More
A world full of data statistics
Meena Kotecha (pictured), a teacher in the departments of Management and Statistics at LSE, was invited to contribute to new research which looks into the changing environment of data statistics and how this can be better reflected in A-level classrooms across different subjects.
The report, entitled A World Full of Data Statistics: opportunities across A-level subjects, is the outcome of round-table discussions and research seminars organised by the Royal Statistical Society (RSS).
Meena said: "I was delighted to be invited by the RSS to contribute to this research, as one of six subject advisors, on the role of statistics in A-level economics curriculum.
"I am passionate about enhancing undergraduates’ learning experience, which can be achieved by exploring and optimising the enormous potential of A-level courses to equip students with basic statistical concepts. I would argue that this would better prepare students to tackle statistical challenges in higher education degree programmes.
"Our collaboration commenced at the RSS on 6 March as we worked on our individual contributions. The launch event consisted of presentations and panel discussions focused on statistics teaching across a wide range of A-level courses."
Home workers "happier and more productive"
Employees who are able to work from home are more productive than their office-bound colleagues because they are less distracted, grateful for the flexibility and the time they save on commuting is ploughed back into work.
These findings, from LSE, endorse a general move towards more flexible working practices in the UK, although the private sector is lagging behind in this respect.
Dr Alexandra Beauregard from LSE’s Department of Management says working from home does not suit everyone, however.
"The happiest employees are those who can work partially from home and partially in the office. They report the highest levels of work/life satisfaction because they can juggle personal responsibilities yet are not socially isolated," Dr Beauregard says.
The arrangement does not work as well with extroverts who are better suited to the social interaction an office usually provides. More
Exercise "potentially as effective" as many drugs for common diseases
Physical activity is potentially as effective as many drug interventions for patients with existing coronary heart disease and stroke, a review of evidence suggests.
The report by Huseyin Naci, a researcher at LSE and a fellow of Harvard Medical School, and Professor John Ioannidis, director of Stanford University School of Medicine, is published on bmj.com.
The researchers argue that more trials comparing the effectiveness of exercise and drugs are urgently needed to help doctors and patients make the best treatment decisions. In the meantime, they say exercise "should be considered as a viable alternative to, or alongside, drug therapy."
Physical activity has well documented health benefits, yet in the UK, only 14 per cent of adults exercise regularly, with roughly one third of adults in England meeting recommended levels of physical activity. In contrast, prescription drug rates continue to skyrocket, sharply rising to an average of 17.7 prescriptions for every person in England in 2010, compared with 11.2 in 2000.
But there is very little evidence on how exercise compares with drugs in reducing the risk of death for common diseases. More
Creative industries not harmed by digital sharing, report finds
A report released by LSE's Department of Media and Communications contradicts widespread claims about the decline of creative industries as a result of copyright infringement.
The report shows that the gaming, film and publishing industries are growing and new business models are emerging based on digital sharing.
For some in the creative industries, copyright infringement may actually be helping boost their revenues, the report finds.
Industry data shows that while the music industry has stagnated somewhat in the last four years, since 1998 it has experienced overall growth with internet-based revenues as a significant component since 2004. In the UK, online sales now exceed CDs or vinyl as a percentage of total revenue for recorded music.
Dr Bart Cammaerts, Senior Lecturer in LSE's Department of Media and Communications and one of the report’s authors, said: "Contrary to the industry claims, the music industry is not in terminal decline, but still holding ground and showing healthy profits. Revenues from digital sales, subscription services, streaming and live performances compensate for the decline in revenues from the sale of CDs or records." More
LSE and Kids Company launch new report on vulnerable children
A leading UK psychologist has compared London’s most vulnerable children - those living in violent cultures - to the children residing in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas.
"For many children who live in London, violence and criminality are a way of life. They witness shootings, stabbings and even killings of friends and relatives," Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch said at the launch of the report on the work of UK charity, Kids Company.
"Many of them have been shot or stabbed and suffer emotional and sexual abuse. They live in one of the most cosmopolitan and rich cities in the world, but their situation is comparable to that of children in Rio’s slums."
Professor Jovchelovitch said this environment led to long-term physical and mental health damage, but the work of charities such as Kids Company gave "visibility" to their plight and filled gaps left by the government sector. More