Working Paper Series

Working Paper Series

The Department of Social Policy multidisciplinary working paper series publishes high quality research papers across the broad field of social policy.

Latest publication

The sounds of development: Musical representations as (an)other source of development knowledge 
David Lewis, Dennis Rodgers and Michael Woolcock

Abstract

The experience of development, as well as understandings of and responses to it, are uniquely rendered via popular culture generally, and popular music in particular. It has been a medium of choice through which marginalized populations all over the world convey their (frequently critical) views, while in the Global North music has also long played a prominent (if notorious) role in portraying the plight of the South’s ‘starving millions’ as an emotional pretext for soliciting funds for international aid. We discuss the overlap between music and development in five specific domains: the tradition of Western ‘protest’ music; musical resistance in the Global South; music-based development interventions; commodification and appropriation; and, finally, music as a globalised development vernacular. We present our analyses not as definitive or comprehensive but as invitations to broaden the range of potential contributions to development debates, and the communicative modalities in and through which these debates are conducted. Doing so may lead to key stakeholders of development such as the poor finding said debates, and possible responses to them, decidedly more open, authentic and compelling. 

Key words: Music, protest, representation, development, knowledge

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2020

How uneven is the playing field? Inequality of socio-economic opportunity in the UK, 2009-2017
David Flatscher

MSc Dissertation

Titmuss Prize for Outstanding Performance 2019 

Abstract

Social policy can serve an important role in bringing about equal opportunities. In order for it to do so, a reliable measure of equality of opportunity is in order to assess progress. To date, few direct estimates of inequality of opportunity exist for the UK. In this dissertation, I seek to fill this gap in the research by measuring inequality of opportunity with recent methodological advancements. Following Niehues and Peichl (2014), I directly measure lower and upper bounds of inequality of opportunity. Unfortunately, opportunities are far from equal in the UK. Inequality of opportunity, in 2017, ranges from about 10 to 65 percent of total inequality of gross income. Furthermore, I quantify the relative contribution circumstances beyond individual control play in shaping unequal socio-economic advantages. Finally, I estimate the evolution of inequality of opportunity between the years 2009-2017.

Key words: Inequality of opportunity, income inequality, social disadvantage   

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Government and NHS reform since the 1980s: the role of the market vis à vis the state, and of political ideas about the ‘direction of travel'
Jane Lewis

Abstract

This working paper takes the ‘long view’ of NHS reform. It uses historical methods to analyse policy documents and speeches by key political actors in order to explore the nature of what became for both the Conservative and Labour Parties a commitment to taking a market approach to NHS reform. The paper focuses on the provision of clinical services. 

The belief that taking a market approach will result in both a more efficient and better-quality service has been common to both Conservative and Labour administrations, and there has been substantial continuity in the development of many of the new structural forms that have been introduced (for example, Foundation Trusts) and the mechanisms that have been required (for example, the use of legally binding contracts). The separation of purchasing from provision has been central to facilitating the market in health care. However, the precise nature of the purchaser/provider split and the extent to which external, independent sector providers have been encouraged has been envisaged differently by the main political parties. The paper considers the focus of successive governments in their efforts to implement market-oriented reforms, particularly the importance they have attached to competition on the one hand and to choice on the other.

The paper addresses the debate as to whether the long experiment with the introduction of market principles is best characterised in terms of continuity or change. It argues that while it is possible to read off continuity from the means and mechanisms employed by successive governments, it is important to consider the political ideas informing the desired ‘direction of travel’ of the main political parties; it is not possible to read off ‘ends’ from policies. Crucially, the Labour and Conservative Parties have differed in their thinking about the desired relationship between the state and the market and the extent to which they have wanted to distance the state from governing what is a huge, complicated and often politically troublesome public service. 

Key words: English NHS, NHS reform, political ideas, ideas in policymaking

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Identity, belonging and economic outcomes in England and Wales
Ivelina Hristova

Postgraduate dissertation

Abstract

The United Kingdom’s 2016 vote to leave the European Union revealed the ways in which issues of economic inequality were intertwined with those of national identity. However, research relating to the impact of national identity on labour market outcomes is mixed, while the relationship between national identity and progression at work has not yet been investigated. Drawing on Akerlof and Kranton’s theory of identity economics, this paper explores whether having British identity impacts progression at work for sub-state national and migrant-origin groups in Englandand Wales. Using the ONS Quarterly Labour Force Survey, I estimate logit models comparing the likelihood of career progression by three identity dimensions – British, sub-state national and migrant-origin, which is itself influenced by social class. The results suggest that identity-related power relations, in-group preferences and bias at work may limit career progression. The paper also provides quantitative evidence for differences in what British identity means in the first place. The novel approach sheds more light on the differential labour market behaviours of migrant-origin and sub-state national groups, and adds to a better understanding of Britishness.

Key words: identity economics, sub-state national and ethnic diversity, progression at work

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Upper and lower bound estimates of inequality of opportunity: A cross-national comparison for Europe
Rafael Carranza

Abstract

I provide lower and upper bound estimates of inequality of opportunity (IOp) for 24 Europeancountries, between 2005 and 2011. Previous estimates of IOp are lower bounds of its true leveland provide a partial view of the importance of involuntarily inherited factors. Upper boundestimates of IOp are much larger than their corresponding lower bound estimates. While the lowerbound estimates of IOp account for up to 31% of total inequality, the upper bound estimatesaccount for up to 90.5%, suggesting that IOp can be as high as total inequality of outcomes.Indeed, inequality of outcomes has a higher correlation with the upper bound estimates of IOp thanwith the lower bound estimates, both cross sectionally and over time.

Key words: circumstances; equality of opportunity; equivalized household income; inequality; MLDindex; upper bound estimate.

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Recent trends in religiosity of majority and minority European populations
Ayse Guveli and Lucinda Platt

Abstract

Patterns of religiosity among both settled and migrant populations have been the subject of intense, and often conflicting, scholarly debate. The evidence for trends in religiosity across migrants of different religions, and for those of both first and second generations, compared with that of natives remains partial. We investigate how the religiosity of first and second generations of migrant origin with different religious affiliations differs from that of non-migrant populations in Europe and whether it converges or diverges over time. Exploiting pooled waves of the European Social Survey, covering 29 destination countries we study trends over a 14-year period for three dimensions of religiosity. We find a small overall decline in religiosity over the period, consistent with a move towards more secular societies. Migrants and the second generation show a rise in religiosity, resulting in some divergence over time, though with variation by religious affiliation. There is stability in relatively high levels of religiosity among migrants and the second generation affiliated to non-Western religions, but a pronounced rise of religiosity among migrant and second-generation Protestants and migrant Orthodox Christians over time.

Key words: religion; religiosity; migrants; second generation; Europe; natives; prayer; attendance.

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Loaded lesbians: how far do negotiations in the private sphere transfer to the labour market?
Liz Searle

Undergraduate dissertation

Abstract

Lesbians experience a pay premium in UK labour markets relative to heterosexual women according to data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), even allowing for variables such as children and education. Research has shown that same-sex couples can experience a more egalitarian division of domestic labour, which has been linked to better labour market outcomes. This division has itself been connected to processes of intra-couple negotiation as the basis for the division of chores by contrast with sex-typed divisions of labour. This dissertation extends our understanding of the role of negotiation in dividing housework among lesbians, through in-depth interviews with four couples. It aims to ascertain if patterns of negotiation and consequent equitable division of domestic labour can be linked to lesbians’ labour market success. It does this by asking: how is division maintained and negotiated? Do lesbian couples do, undo or redo gender? Whilst it has been claimed that undoing gender is impossible, I suggest that conscious action to deconstruct the gender binary can constitute undoing rather than redoing. Among my respondents I found that that they were doing and redoing gender simultaneously. Only one couple, I argue, undoes gender.

Key words: (re/un-doing) gender; domestic labour; sexuality pay-gap; lesbian; housework.

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2019

Neither dupes, not pipers: violent crime, public sentiment and the political origins of mass incarceration in the United States
Leonidas K. Cheliotis

Abstract

One of the most contentious questions in contemporary penology is why the use of imprisonment started rising rapidly in the US in the early 1970s. The two dominant perspectives on the subject focus on crime’s public salience and how it relates to violent crime and political elites, respectively. The first perspective holds that incumbent political elites promoted tougher criminal justice policies in the name of a public concern about violent crime that they previously aroused themselves, in order ultimately to serve narrow interests. The second perspective argues instead that politicians in office toughened criminal justice policies in response to a legitimate public disquiet about violent crime. Based on an unprecedented comparison of trends in violent crime and public opinion over the period 1960-1980, this article suggests that both perspectives misread how the politics of crime and criminal justice unfolded around the time mass incarceration was taking off. Research on the subject should henceforth shift its focus onto perspectives that do not treat majority public opinion as a key element in criminal justice policy-making.

Key words: mass incarceration, violent crime, public sentiment, politics of criminal justice

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The lasting effects of natural disasters on property crime: evidence from the 2010 Chilean earthquake
Jorge García Hombrados

Abstract

Natural disasters cause human losses, destroy economic assets and are often followed by widespread looting and altruistic behaviours of many individuals; affecting ambiguously the long-term benefits and costs of committing crime. Using household data from victimisation surveys and a difference in difference strategy, the analysis shows that municipalities exposed to the 8.8 Richter magnitude earthquake that struck Chile in February 2010 experienced lasting reductions in the prevalence of property crime. The analysis reveals that the drop in property crime in these areas is closely linked to the positive effect of the earthquake on the strength of community life and the subsequent adoption of community-based crime prevention measures.

Key words: Natural disasters; crime; social capital.

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Stalling of mortality in the United Kingdom and Europe: an analytical review of the evidence
Michael Murphy, Marc Luy and Orsola Torrisi

Abstract

Improvement in UK mortality rates has declined substantially in this decade and the overall value is now close to zero, a finding which has become politically controversial. A similar but less severe change has been observed in some neighbouring European countries, and the US has exhibited a longer term deterioration in mortality improvement. We review the literature and associated commentary on this phenomenon. These UK trends are observed across sex and age groups, but appear to be more marked in more deprived areas. We assess the hypotheses that have been put forward to explain these trends within a framework that distinguishes between short-term fluctuations and longer-term underlying trends; in particular, the role of seasonal influenza, changes in cardio-vascular disease mortality, Government austerity measures and tempo effects. We conclude that that there is no clear evidence for any specific explanation or combination of causes and that additional studies, especially those including cross-national comparisons are needed.

Key words: Life expectancy; UK mortality trends; Europe mortality trends; Influenza; Austerity.

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Female genital cutting and education: theory and causal evidence from Senegal
Jorge García Hombrados and Edgar Salgado

Abstract

We use across-ethnic-group variation in exposure to a law that banned the practice of female genital cutting (FGC) in Senegal to evaluate the impact of the law and to document the perverse effect that this cultural practice has on girls’ education. We find that the law, interpreted as a rise in the cost of FGC, reduced the prevalence of FGC, which later increased educational investments received by girls. To explain this result, we propose a theoretical model where, consistent with previous evidence, both education and FGC lead to better marriage market outcomes. In line with the predictions of the model, the results suggest that education and FGC work as substitutes in the marriage market and that educational investments are affected by the cost of alternative pre-marital investments. Additionally, we rule out alternative mechanisms, such as a broader change in gender norms, better health or fewer adolescent women leaving school to get married, to explain why the law increased educational investments. Keywords: Female genital cutting, education, harmful traditions.

Key words: Female genital cutting, education, harmful traditions.

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Read the related blog post here.

Preterm births and educational disadvantage: heterogenous effects across families and schools
Anna Baranowska-Rataj, Kieron Barclay, Joan Costa-Font, Mikko Myrskylä and Berkay Özcan

Abstract

Although preterm births are the leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality in advanced economies, evidence about the consequences of such births later in life is limited. Using Swedish population register data on cohorts born 1982-1994 (N=1,087,750), we examine the effects of preterm births on school grades using sibling fixed effect models which compare individuals with their non-preterm siblings. We test for heterogeneous effects by degree of prematurity, as well as whether family socioeconomic resources and school characteristics can compensate for any negative effects of premature births. Our results show that preterm births can have negative effects on school grades, but these negative effects are largely confined to children born extremely preterm (<28 weeks of gestation, i.e. born at least 10 weeks earlier). Children born moderately preterm (i.e. born up to 5 weeks early) suffer no ill effects. We do not find any evidence for the moderating effect of parental socioeconomic resources. Our results indicate that school environment is very important for the outcomes of preterm born children, such that those born extremely preterm that are in the top decile of schools have as good grades as those born full-term that are in an average school. However, good schools appear to lift scores for all groups, and as a result that gap between extremely preterm and full-term children remains also in the best schools. This highlights the role of schools as institutions that may either reduce or reinforce the early life course disadvantage.

Key words: SEN, disability, social isolation, loneliness, life-course

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Growing up lonely? Exploring the social outcomes of three generations identified with special education needs or disabilities in childhood
Samantha Parsons and Lucinda Platt

Abstract

Social isolation and loneliness currently have high prominence on the political agenda in the UK. While social isolation can affect anyone and at all stages across the life-course, some are more vulnerable than others. One risk factor for poorer social outcomes is disability, which is itself often compounded with social disadvantage. We draw on data from three British longitudinal studies to examine social outcomes of those identified with special educational needs or disabilities when they were teenagers. We compare three different generations, born between 1958 and 2000/02, across a range of measures of social engagement and social support experienced in their 50s, 20s and teens, respectively. This gives us insight both into the long-term consequences of childhood disability for social engagement and social support, but also enables us to evaluate for the younger cohorts the early indications of such future lifecourse patterns. We find substantial differences in social support and social engagement among 50-year olds. Moreover, despite successive governments agreeing that those with disabilities deserve a better deal out of life, today’s disabled youth and teenagers also experience greater social isolation than their non-disabled contemporaries. We discuss the implications of our findings.

Key words: SEN, disability, social isolation, loneliness, life-course

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Read the related blog post here.

Reducing Mommy Penalties with Daddy Quotas
Allison Dunatchik and Berkay Özcan

Abstract

This paper investigates whether non-transferable paternity leave policies - known as daddy quotas - mitigate 'motherhood penalties' women face in employment and wages in the labor market. Using the introduction of a daddy quota in Quebec, Canada as a quasi-natural experiment, the authors employ national survey data to conduct a difference-in-difference estimation of the impact of the policy on mothers’ labor force participation, full-time and part-time employment, and hourly wages. The results indicate that the policy substantially increased mothers’ participation in paid work - Quebec mothers exposed to the policy are 7% more likely to participate in the labor force, 5-6% more likely to work full-time and 4-5% less likely to work part-time. These results are robust to an alternative semi-parametric difference-in-difference methodology and to a battery of placebo tests. The analysis suggests a lag between policy implementation and observable effects, with impacts increasing with time.

Key words: family policy, gender roles, parental leave, work, work-family issues

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Inter-ethnic relations of teenagers in England's schools: the role of school and neighbourhood ethnic composition
Simon Burgess and Lucinda Platt

Abstract

The paper presents an empirical analysis of inter-ethnic relations among adolescents in England’s schools, the first national study of schools throughout England to relate inter-ethnic attitudes to both school and area ethnic composition. We combine survey data on ‘warmth’ of feeling for specific ethnic groups, friendships and attitudes with administrative data on the shares of those groups at school and area level. We confirm that the pupils have warmer feelings for their own ethnic group than for others. Second, we show that in schools with more pupils from another ethnic group the gap between a pupil’s views of those from her own group and from another ethnic group is smaller. This is true for attitudes of the majority and of minority ethnic groups. Third, we show that school composition (interpreted as contact) mitigates area composition (interpreted as exposure).

Key words: ethnicity, attitudes, contact, children, school context

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Two Become One: Improving the Targeting of Conditional Cash Transfers With a Predictive Model of School Dropout
Cristian Crespo

Abstract

This paper analyses whether a common targeting mechanism of conditional cash transfers (CCTs), an income-proxy means test (PMT), can identify the poor and future school dropouts effectively. Despite both being key target groups for CCTs, students at risk of dropping out are rarely considered for CCT allocation and in targeting assessments. Using rich administrative datasets from Chile to simulate different targeting mechanisms, I compare the targeting effectiveness of a PMT with other mechanisms based on a predictive model of school dropout. I build this model using machine learning algorithms, one of their first applications for school dropout in a developing country. I show that using the outputs of the predictive model in conjunction with the PMT increases targeting effectiveness except when the social valuation of the poor and future school dropouts differs to a large extent. Public officials that value these two target groups equally may improve CCT targeting by modifying their allocation procedures.

Key words: conditional cash transfers, targeting, school dropout prediction, machine learning, proxy means tests

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Cash for Grades or Money for Nothing? Evidence from Regression Discontinuity Designs
Cristian Crespo

Abstract

This paper estimates the impact of a Chilean cash for grades programme, the Bono por Logro Escolar (BLE) in 2013, on future educational outcomes. The cash transfer was targeted using two scores from 2012, an income index and academic performance. I implement a sharp regression discontinuity design along these two running variables. I show that students marginally at each side of the two thresholds used only differed in receiving the BLE in 2013. The main causal estimates for the outcomes are not statistically significantly different from zero. Additionally, the main causal estimates are centred around zero and their standard errors are small. If a local average effect of the BLE in 2013 exists this is at best modest in magnitude. Any potential impact of the BLE in 2013 would have been at least smaller than those found in developing countries, where effects of at least 0.17 of a standard deviation on test scores have been observed.

Key words: cash for grades, regression discontinuity, bono por logro escolar, cash transfers

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Social Policy with Tunnel Vision: The problems of state efforts to curb adolescent pregnancy in Post 1988 Brazil
Beatriz Burattini

MSc Dissertation

Abstract

This paper examines how conceptualisations of adolescence and adolescent pregnancy by the Brazilian state between 1989 and 2010 have shaped social policy addressing adolescent pregnancy. This was examined based on policy documents and public health indicators concerned with adolescent pregnancy. According to this data, adolescents were initially seen as a homogenous group vulnerable to pregnancy as a health risk. While parts of the government began to perceive adolescents as more heterogeneous individuals with agency and responsibility in the 2000s, health indicators lagged behind. Adolescents’ intersecting identities, characteristics of the men and boys who impregnate girls and the extent to which adolescent pregnancies were planned or not were key social factors that were often ignored. Moreover, adolescent pregnancy was largely medicalised. This led to narrow social policy approaches to adolescent pregnancy which ignored the wider social contexts of diverse adolescents in Brazil. Based on two examples, I show how this unidimensional focus ignores the lack of opportunities offered to disadvantaged adolescents by the Brazilian education system and labour market, which make pregnancy more attractive than desired by the state. My second example highlights how the invisibility of the father in health indicators contributes to the idea that adolescent pregnancy only affects adolescents, instead of highlighting gendered inequalities that affect Brazilian society as a whole, including other age groups.

Key words: adolescent pregnancy, sexual citizenship, legibility, health indicators, medicalisation

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Social entrepreneurship before neoliberalism? The life and work of Akhtar Hameed Khan
David Lewis

Abstract

The life history method can be used to historicise the study of social and public policy. Reviewing the life and work of Pakistani social entrepreneur A.H. Khan provides a useful reminder that what Jyoti Sharma recently termed ‘the neoliberal takeover of social entrepreneurship’ is a relatively recent phenomenon. While Khan’s achievements across the public and non-governmental (NGO) sectors continue to be debated amongst scholars and activists in South Asia, his life and work – which is not well known in the Global North as it perhaps should be – highlights a much broader and more inclusive way of thinking about the social entrepreneur as an organiser of change.

Keywords: social entrepreneurship; non-governmental organisations (NGOs); community development; public administration; rural development; life history

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A different perspective on the evolution of UK income inequality
A.B. Atkinson and Stephen P. Jenkins

Abstract

This paper scrutinizes the conventional wisdom about trends in UK income inequality and also places contemporary inequality in a much longer historical perspective. We combine household survey and income tax data to provide better coverage of all income ranges from the bottom to the very top. We make a case for studying distributions of income between tax units (i.e. not assuming the full income sharing that goes with the use of the household as the unit of analysis) for reasons of principle as well as data harmonization. We present evidence that income inequality in the UK is as least as high today as it was just before the start of World War 2.

Key words: inequality, tax unit, household, Gini coefficient, income tax data, household survey data, HBA1, SPI

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2018

Perspectives on poverty in Europe. Stephen P. Jenkins
Key words: poverty, material deprivation, Europe, EU-SILC

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What are the factors that lead to the disengagement in activism over an individual's lifetime in the Global South? Daniel Silver
Key words: Activism, social movements, sustainability, civil society

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NGOs and the success paradox: Gay activism 'after' HIV/AIDS in China 
Timothy Hildebrandt
Keywords: NGOs, LGBT, HIV/AIDS, China, development, aid

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