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Opportunity and Mobility Seminar Series

The Opportunity and Mobility Seminar Series aims to foster an exchange of ideas and findings among scholars working on horizontal inequalities and intergenerational transmission of well-being from different perspectives and in different disciplines.

The Opportunity and Mobility Seminar Series is organised as part of III's new research theme “Opportunity, Mobility and the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality”.

The seminars will be organised as hybrid events, where access to the in-person events will be invite-only but access to the online livestream on Zoom will be open to all. 

 Previous Seminars

Emma-Tominey-Cropped-200x200 Anthony-Lepinteur

First Generation Elite: the role of school social networks

Part of the Opportunity and Mobility Seminar Series. Co-hosted by the Department of Economics and Law of Sapienza University of Rome

. Online and in-person public event. 

Professor Emma Tominey, Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of York

Dr Anthony Lepinteur, Research Associate, Department of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences, University of Luxembourg)

Professor Flaviana Palmisano, 
Associate Professor of Public Economics, Department of Economics and Law, Sapienza University of Rome

This seminar examines the role that social interactions during high school play in driving the stark socio-economic inequalities in elite education that exist in most developed countries. Using administrative data from Norway and exploiting within school, between cohort variation in high school peer characteristics, Professor Tominey explores how exposure to peers whose parents are elite educated ('elite peers') promotes elite educational attainment among all students, but exacerbates socio-economic inequalities therein. 

Risto-Conte Giovanna-Scarchilli-Cropped-200x200

Spatial & temporal disparities in air pollution exposure at Italian schools 

Tuesday 10 May, 4.30pm to 5.45pm. Online and in-person public event. 

Part of the Opportunity and Mobility Seminar Series. Co-hosted by the Department of Sociology, University of Trento.

Risto Conte Keivabu, Researcher, Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute

Giovanna Scarchilli, Post-doctoral Research Fellow, INEQUALITREES Project, University of Trento

Emanuele Fedeli, Post-doctoral Research Fellow, INEQUALITREES Project, University of Trento

Air pollution poses major threats to children's health and learning, making exposure at school particularly critical. However, some children are more exposed than others, especially depending on the socioeconomic status of their school’s neighbourhood. In this seminar, Risto Conte Keivabu presents his research where he geocoded addresses of approximately 23,000 elementary and middle schools in Italy. He also created an indicator of school socioeconomic status (SES) using fine-grained information on the real estate value made available by the Italian Observatory of Real Estate Value. He discusses his methods and findings in this seminar, with comments from Giovanna Scarchilli.


Expectations about the Productivity of Effort and Academic Outcomes: evidence from a randomized information intervention

Part of the Opportunity and Mobility Seminar Series. Co-hosted by the ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.

. Online public event.

Speaker: Professor Emilia Del Bono (Professor of Economics, ISER, University of Essex, and Director of the Centre for Micro Social Change) 

Discussant: Professor Matthias Parey (Professor of Economics, University of Surrey and ZEW Research Associate)

Chair: Dr Guido Neidhöfer (Senior Researcher, ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research)

Girls outperform boys in terms of educational attainment in school and spend more time and effort on schoolwork. We evaluate a randomized information intervention targeted at individual beliefs about the productivity of effort among a cohort of first year university students and investigate whether it can reduce gender differences in academic outcomes.

We measure individual beliefs about the productivity of effort using subjective expectations about the education production function. Our intervention increases overall first-year GPA by 0.14 of a standard deviation, with similar effect on graduation GPA. The effects are larger for men, such that the intervention significantly reduces the gender gap in academic achievement, which is 0.12 of a standard deviation in the treated group compared to 0.39 in the control group. Professor Emilia Del Bono and Professor Matthias Parey discuss these findings in this seminar.

The Social Life of Inequality: why unequal countries stay that way

Part of the Opportunity and Mobility Seminar Series

. Online public event. 

Watch the video here

Listen to the podcast here

This talk offers a diagnosis for the current political moment marking societies across the west, where historically high levels of inequality have been met with limited public consternation. In fact, research suggests that residents of more economically unequal societies tend to be less worried about inequality than people in more egalitarian countries. Understanding why requires that we take a closer look at the “social life of inequality.” How have decades of growing inequality shaped and reshaped the social landscape: our social networks, neighborhoods, schools and workplaces? Dr Jonathan Mijs argues that inequality increases the distance between rich and poor, who increasingly live their lives in separate neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces and befriend, date, and marry people exclusively from within their own socio-economic circles. This disconnect means that neither rich nor poor can see the full extent of inequality in their everyday life or appreciate the non-meritocratic causes of economic “success” and “failure.”   

Speaker: Dr Jonathan Mijs (Boston University & Visiting Fellow, LSE III)

Discussant: Siyu Li (PhD student, University of Lille)

Chair: Asif Butt (PhD student, LSE Department of Sociology)

Watch the livestream


Comparing Distributions of Ordinal Data: theory and empirics

Part of the Opportunity and Mobility Seminar Series

. Online public event. 

How to undertake distributional comparisons when personal well-being is measured using income is well-established. But what if personal well-being is measured using subjective well-being indicators such as life satisfaction or self-assessed health status?

In this seminar, Professor Jenkins will discuss his recent work which addresses this issue and is partly stimulated by the increasing weight put on subjective well-being measures by international agencies, such as the OECD, and national governments. He reviews methods appropriate for distributional comparisons in the ordinal data context, comparing them with those routinely used for comparisons of income distributions.

Speaker: Professor Stephen Jenkins (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

Discussant: Professor Vanesa Jordá (University of Cantabria)

Chair: Fiona Gogescu (doctoral student, Department of Social Policy, LSE)


Upper Secondary Tracks and Student Competencies: a selection or a causal effect?

Part of the Opportunity and Mobility Seminar Series

. Online public event. 

In this seminar, Dr Triventi will present his paper which assesses whether the track attended in upper secondary education affects student competencies in Italy, by disentangling the genuine effects of track choices from selection biases related to the characteristics of students enrolled in different tracks. The article contributes to the literature by relying on a more detailed measure of tracking, by focusing on between-school tracking and exploring whether track effects vary systematically by student social background, a largely overlooked issue in previous research.

The authors adopt a counterfactual approach and rely on population panel data on a recent cohort of students assessed in 5th, 8th and 10th grade. They rely on an individual difference-in-difference strategy integrated with marginal mean weighting with stratification and inverse probability weighting, which are used respectively to better control for selection into tracks and account for missing data. First, the authors document strong social selection into tracks, along various students’ characteristics. Second, they find that track effects are smaller once accounting for selection processes but are still substantial on both reading and mathematics competencies, albeit slightly larger in the latter subject. Beyond the anticipated advantage of the academic track over vocational education, they also find differential effects of attending different curricula within these tracks. Third, the benefits of attending the academic tracks appear to be rather homogeneous across students from different social backgrounds.

Speaker: Dr Moris Triventi (University of Trento and the Center for Social Inequality Studies)

Discussant: Dr Sara Geven (University of Amsterdam)

Chair: Dr Paolo Brunori (LSE III)