Publications portal


The III connects research about inequality from across the LSE. Here you can find published research exploring inequality from leading academics across the school. 

Latest III Related Publications 

Investigating the gender wealth gap across occupational classes
Waitkus, Nora and Minkus, Lara (2021) Investigating the gender wealth gap across occupational classes. Feminist Economics, 27 (4). pp. 114-147. ISSN 1354-5701

The health effects of wage setting institutions: how collective bargaining improves health but not because it reduces inequality
Reeves, Aaron (2021) The health effects of wage setting institutions: how collective bargaining improves health but not because it reduces inequality. Sociology of Health and Illness, 43 (4). 1012 - 1031. ISSN 0141-9889

Inequality in the time of COVID-19
Ferreira, Francisco H.G. (2021) Inequality in the time of COVID-19. Finance and Development, 58 (2). 20 - 23. ISSN 0145-1707

Inequality, living standards, and growth: two centuries of economic development in Mexico†
Bleynat, Ingrid, Challú, Amílcar E. and Segal, Paul (2021) Inequality, living standards, and growth: two centuries of economic development in Mexico†. Economic History Review, 74 (3). 584 - 610. ISSN 0013-0117

Estimating intergenerational income mobility on sub-optimal data: a machine learning approach
Bloise, Francesco, Brunori, Paolo and Piraino, Patrizio (2021) Estimating intergenerational income mobility on sub-optimal data: a machine learning approach. Journal of Economic Inequality, 19 (4). pp. 643-665. ISSN 1569-1721

Comparing child wealth inequality across countries
Pfeffer, Fabian T. and Waitkus, Nora (2021) Comparing child wealth inequality across countries. RSF, 7 (3). pp. 28-49. ISSN 2377-8253

Taxes on wealth: time for another look?
Advani, Arun, Miller, Helen and Summers, Andy (2021) Taxes on wealth: time for another look? Fiscal Studies, 42 (3-4). 389 - 395. ISSN 0143-5671

Revenue and distributional modelling for a UK wealth tax
Advani, Arun, Hughson, Helen and Tarrant, Hannah (2021) Revenue and distributional modelling for a UK wealth tax. Fiscal Studies, 42 (3-4). 699 - 736. ISSN 0143-5671

The UK's wealth distribution and characteristics of high-wealth households
Advani, Arun, Bangham, George and Leslie, Jack (2021) The UK's wealth distribution and characteristics of high-wealth households. Fiscal Studies, 42 (3-4). 397 - 430. ISSN 0143-5671

Valuation for the purposes of a wealth tax
Daly, Stephen, Hughson, Helen and Loutzenhiser, Glen (2021) Valuation for the purposes of a wealth tax. Fiscal Studies, 42 (3-4). 615 - 650. ISSN 0143-5671


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Democracy, Public Participation & Social Change

Switching Focus: whose responsibility to improve disabled people's employment and pay?

Author: Liz Sayce 

This report sets an agenda to scale up inclusive employment practice through policies that focus on the demand side: incentivising and supporting employers. Decades of focus on the supply side – requiring or supporting disabled individuals to move towards work – have left the UK with stubborn disability employment and pay gaps. A different approach is needed.

Links to report: 

Full PDF report, see here
Full Word report, see here
Easyread version, see here
Executive Summary, see here

Links to video and audio: 

Audio, see here                                                                                   

Video, see here


Personalizing the State: an Anthropology of Law, Politics, and Welfare in Austerity Britain

Author: Insa Lee Koch

Abstract: Liberal democracy appears in crisis. From the rise of law and order and ever tougher forms of means-testing under austerity politics to the outcome of Britain's referendum on leaving the EU, commentators have rushed to explain the current conjuncture. Starting with dominant theories that have seen these developments as indicative of a rise in penal populism or popular authoritarianism, Personalizing the State revisits one of the central paradoxes of our times: the illiberal turn that liberal democracy has taken. 

This book goes to where much of the commentary has stopped short: to the lived experiences of citizens who inhabit some of Britains most stigmatized urban neighborhoods, namely its council estates that were once built to house the working classes. Drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork, it moves the question from why liberal democracy has taken a punitive turn to the how and the what: to how citizens experience democracy in the first place and what grassroots understandings of politics and care they bring to their encounters with the state. 

Personalizing the State challenges dominant narratives of exceptionalism that have portrayed the people as a threat to the democratic order. It reveals the murky, sometimes contradictory desires for a personalized state that cannot easily be collapsed with popular support for authoritarian interventions. These popular forms of engagement reflect, in turn, a longer history of state control exercised against working-class people. Above all, the book exposes the states disavowal of its political and moral responsibilities at a time when mechanisms for collectivizing redistributive demands have been silenced.


Visualizing Belief in Meritocracy, 1930–2010 (2018)

Author: Jonathan J. B. Mijs

Abstract: In this figure I describe the long trend in popular belief in meritocracy across the Western world between 1930 and 2010. Studying trends in attitudes is limited by the paucity of survey data that can be compared across countries and over time. Here, I show how to complement survey waves with cohort-level data. Repeated surveys draw on a representative sample of the population to describe the typical beliefs held by citizens in a given country and period. Leveraging the fact that citizens surveyed in a given year were born in different time-periods allows for a comparison of beliefs across birth cohorts. The latter overlaps with the former, but considerably extends the time period covered by the data. Taken together, the two measures give a “triangulated” longitudinal record of popular belief in meritocracy. I find that in most countries, popular belief in meritocracy is (much) stronger for more recent periods and cohorts.


Inequality Is a Problem of Inference: How People Solve the Social Puzzle of Unequal Outcomes (2018)

 Author: Jonathan J. B. Mijs

Abstract: A new wave of scholarship recognizes the importance of people’s understanding of inequality that underlies their political convictions, civic values, and policy views. Much less is known, however, about the sources of people’s different beliefs. I argue that scholarship is hampered by a lack of consensus regarding the conceptualization and measurement of inequality beliefs, in the absence of an organizing theory. To fill this gap, in this paper, I develop a framework for studying the social basis of people’s explanations for inequality. I propose that people observe unequal outcomes and must infer the invisible forces that brought these about, be they meritocratic or structural in nature. In making inferences about the causes of inequality, people draw on lessons from past experience and information about the world, both of which are biased and limited by their background, social networks, and the environments they have been exposed to. Looking at inequality beliefs through this lens allows for an investigation into the kinds of experiences and environments that are particularly salient in shaping people’s inferential accounts of inequality. Specifically, I make a case for investigating how socializing institutions such as schools and neighborhoods are “inferential spaces” that shape how children and young adults come to learn about their unequal society and their own place in it. I conclude by proposing testable hypotheses and implications for research.


De-Democratisation and Rising Inequality: The Underlying Cause of a Worrying Trend (2017)

Author: Dena Freeman

Summary: This paper is concerned with the question of why economic inequality has increased so dramatically in recent decades and what can be done about it. It suggests that the fundamental cause of the recent rise in economic inequality, underlying all the more proximate factors, is a major process of de-democratisation that has taken place since the 1970s, which has increased the political representation of capital while reducing that of labour. The paper pulls together a wide range of research from different disciplines in order to decisively show the ways in which economic governance has been de-democratised in this period. This analysis has important consequences with regard to policy attempts to reduce inequality and suggests that these must focus not on technical issues but on ways to strengthen democracy. And if the dynamics of dedemocratisation are fundamentally global, then solutions must also be global. These conclusions are in stark contrast with current academic and policy approaches which tend to focus on technical, rather than political, solutions, and which focus overwhelmingly at the national, rather than the global, level. This article thus calls for a major re-thinking of the causes of rising inequality and the policy changes needed to reduce it. 


Democratizing Inequalities: Dilemmas of the New Public Participation (2015)

Authors: Caroline W. Lee, Michael McQuarrie, and Edward T. Walker; Foreword by Craig Calhoun

Keywords: democracy, participation, inequality, political action

Summary: This book attempts to outline how modern societies face a variety of structural problems that limit the potentials for true democratization, as well as vast inequalities in political action and voice that are not easily resolved by participatory solutions.


Community mobilisation in the 21st century: Updating our theory of social change? (2014)

Author: Catherine Campbell

Keywords: activism, collective action, community mobilisation, social change, social movements, the new left, Paulo Freire

Summary: This paper explores the Freirian theory of social change underpinning health-related community mobilisation in poor and marginalised communities. Highlighting potential shortcomings of its essentialist understandings of power and identity, and linear notions of change, it examines how lessons from the 'new left', and burgeoning global protest movements can rejuvenate the field given the growing complexity of 21st-century social inequalities.


Surreptitious symbiosis: engagement between activists and NGOs (2015)

Authors: Armine Ishkanian and Marlies Glasius

Summary: Based on research conducted in Athens, Cairo, London and Yerevan the article analyses the relationship between activists engaged in street protests or direct action since 2011 and NGOs. It examines how activists relate to NGOs and whether it is possible to do sustained activism to bring about social change without becoming part of a ‘civil society industry’. The article argues that while at first glance NGOs seem disconnected from recent street activism, and activists distance themselves from NGOs, the situation is more complicated than meets the eye. It contends that the boundaries between the formal NGOs and informal groups of activists is blurred and there is much cross-over and collaboration. The article demonstrates and seeks to explain this phenomenon, which we call surreptitious symbiosis, from the micro-perspective of individual activists and NGO staff. Finally, we discuss whether this surreptitious symbiosis can be sustained and sketch three scenarios for the future.


What does democracy mean? Activist views and practices in Athens, Cairo, London and Moscow (2016)

Authors: Armine Ishkanian and Marlies Glasius

Summary: This article sheds light on the discontent with and the appeal of democracy by interviewing some of the most committed critical citizens: core activists in street protests. Based on interviews in Athens, Cairo, London, and Moscow, the authors found that they rejected representative democracy as insufficient, and believed democracy to entail having a voice and a responsibility to participate intensively in political decision-making. Activists saw themselves as engaged in prefigurative politics by fostering democratic practices within the movement and, ultimately, in society, but also raised concerns about internal power dynamics reproducing existing inequalities and exclusions. The insistence by activists that citizens have both a right and a duty to participate should be taken more seriously by political scientists and policymakers, not just as a threat to democracy and democratization, but as an opportunity. However, contemporary social movements are not straightforward sites of prefiguration, but sites of struggle between experimental and traditional forms of organizing, between inclusive aspirations and exclusive tendencies.


From Consensus to Dissensus: The Politics of Anti-austerity Activism in London and its Relationship to Voluntary Organizations (2017)

Authors: Armine Ishkanian & Irum S. Ali 

Keywords: Austerity, activism, civil society, occupy, England

Summary: This article examines how activism against austerity is organized and manifested in London. Given that anti-austerity activists are addressing issues related to social welfare, we examine whether there are alliances between the activists and voluntary organizations (VOs) that are working in that field. Examining the challenges involved in creating and sustaining alliances, we argue that the regulatory context alone is an insufficient explanation as to why activist–VO alliances are difficult to establish and maintain. We contend that more significantly, it is VOs’ and activists’ divergent and at times irreconcilable stances, which we refer to as the consensus and dissensus stances, respectively, which impede activist–VO alliances, beyond episodic interactions, from developing.


Underground sociabilities: identity, culture and resistance in Rio de Janeiro's favelas  (2013)

Authors: Sandra Jovchelovitch and Jacqueline Priego-Hernandez

Summary: This book is about patterns of sociability and social development in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It examines how favela communites, despite harsh conditions of living, poverty and segregation, have been able to mobilise local resources to resist exclusion, fight off marginalisation and rewrite relations between the favelas and the city. The book is useful to academics in the social sciences and humanities, policymakers, activists and all those who are interested in human-centred social and community development, urban planning, and communication across asymmetries in the contemporary city.


Bottom-up social development in favelas of Rio de Janeiro: a toolkit  (2015)

Authors: Sandra Jovchelovitch and Jacqueline Priego-Hernandez

Summary: This toolkit provides information, resources and tools based on the lessons and research findings of Underground Sociabilities, and international and interinstitutional partnership that studied the identity, culture and resilience of favela communities in Rio de Janeiro.


Mediating Indebtedness in South Africa (2018)

Author: Deborah James

Keywords: South Africa, brokers, indebtedness, economic anthropology, financialisation

Summary: When South Africa’s credit/debt landscape expanded during the 1990s, this was justified by some as a new form of inclusion but alleged by others to have intensified the power and profit of capitalism and acted to the detriment of householders, thus perpetuating ‘credit apartheid’. Yet, blame cannot be so easily assigned. Forces of state and market have intertwined to create a redistributive neoliberalism, enabling brokers – who have played a key role in establishing the current credit/debt landscape – to insert themselves into the interstices of the system, making money by adding interest at every point in the value chain. Apartheid’s spatial separations meant that traders – and later informal moneylenders – relied on agents to bridge the gap between themselves and the rural/township world of economic informality. Even attempts at credit reform have been complicated, and stalled, by the ongoing presence of intermediaries. The paper explores these dynamics, illustrating how difficult it is to separate bad from good protagonists or perpetrators from victims.


Deductions and counter-deductions in South Africa (2017)

Author: Deborah James

Summary: The real economy as a concept has taken root not only in highly developed economies but also in those characterized by “the rapid growth of aspiration accompanied by massive incorporation of people into the current market economy, through the expansion of indebtedness and financial devices . . . [and] the impossibility to pay,” where plural and shifting scales coexist (Neiburg and Guyer, this volume), and where there “is interplay between different units of measure and scales” (Neiburg 2016: 82). This plurality, in the South African case, means official figures fail to capture the true extent of borrowing and lending and the way state salaries and grants serve as collateral for apparently informal loans. Attempts to regulate or improve the situation, aimed at controlling “reckless lending,” have problematized the debtor as unaccustomed to the idea of repayment. Rather than being excluded from the mainstream economy, however, debtors are in danger of being wholly incorporated into it—but with the disadvantage of having their finances under “external judicial control,” which enables creditors to exact repayment by making deductions directly from salaries. This essay explores the prevalence of these deductions, which have rendered the recent explosion of so-called “unsecured lending” profitable for South Africa’s big retailers and new microlenders alike. Nonetheless, debtors, and the legal and human rights practitioners who act on their behalf, do not unquestioningly accept such predations: this essay examines the various counter-deductions they have put in place.


Inequality: What Can Be Done? (2015)

Author: Anthony B. Atkinson

Keywords: inequality, public policy, poverty, income distribution, developed countries 

Summary: This book presents a comprehensive set of policies that could bring about a genuine shift in the distribution of income in developed countries. The book argues that problem is not simply that the rich are getting richer, but that society is failing to tackle poverty, and the economy is rapidly changing to leave the majority of people behind. To reduce inequality, the book argues that society has to go beyond placing new taxes on the wealthy to fund existing programs. The book thus recommends ambitious new policies in five areas: technology, employment, social security, the sharing of capital, and taxation. 


Lectures on Public Economics Updated Edition (2015)

Authors: Anthony B. Atkinson and Joseph E. Stiglitz 

Keywords: public economics, taxation, behavioral response, tax systems, public sector, public goods

Summary: First published in 1980, the lectures presented in this updated book examine the behavioral response of households and firms to tax changes. Topics include the effects of taxation on labor supply, savings, risk-taking, the firm, debt, and economic growth. The book then delves into normative questions such as the design of tax systems, optimal taxation, public sector pricing, and public goods, including local public goods. 


Public Economics in an Age of Austerity (2014)

Author: Anthony B. Atkinson

Keywords: public economics, austerity, ageing population, education, income tax, capital, social security contributions 

Summary: This book describes how public economics can help society to think about alternative ways of meeting the challenges of an ageing population, increased investment in education, and climate change. It casts doubt on conventionally held views, such as those concerned with top tax rates, the undesirability of taxing capital income, the targeting of child benefits, and the merging of income tax and social security contributions. 


Inequality and Crises Revisited (2015)

Authors: Salvatore Morelli and Anthony B. Atkinson

Keywords: inequality, crisis, Chartbook of Economic Inequality, level hypothesis, growth hypothesis

Summary: Using the updated version of the Chartbook of Economic Inequality, this paper provides new empirical evidence on the `level' hypothesis and reassesses the empirical validity of the `growth' hypothesis. In line with previous work, the empirical analysis on the entire set of countries and years under investigation does not provide any conclusive and compelling statistical support to either of the hypotheses.


The median as watershed (2013)

Authors: Rolf Aaberge and Anthony B. Atkinson 

Keywords: income distribution, median income, Stiglitz Commission, median, poverty, measurement 

Summary: The aim of this paper is to bring out some of the implications of adopting the median as a diving line for measurement purposes, particularly with the robustness of the conclusions reached by the Stiglitz Commission and the Europe 2020 Agenda for the European Union. In doing so, the paper develops the two alternative approaches—primal and dual—applied to Lorenz curves in Aaberge (2001). 


Chartbook of Economic Inequality (2014)

Authors: Anthony B. Atkinson and Salvatore Morelli 

Keywords: long-run changes, economic inequality, charts, distribution 

Summary: The purpose of this chartbook is to present a summary of evidence about long-run changes in economic inequality for 25 countries, accounting for more than one-third of the world’s population, covering more than one hundred years. The results are presented in 25 charts, one for each country, together with a description of the sources.


Bankers’ pay and extreme wage inequality in the UK (2010)

Authors: Brian Bell and John Van Reenen

Keywords: Wage inequality, financial services, bonuses

Summary: It is well known that the distribution of income in the United Kingdom has widened considerably in the last three decades. This paper explores this increased dispersion at the very top of the wage distribution. We show that the growth has occurred primarily within the top few percentiles and that the rise in inequality in recent years is much more pronounced when we focus on annual earnings as opposed to weekly wages (where most work has concentrated). This is because annual wages include bonuses. By the end of the decade to 2008, the top tenth of earners received £20bn more purely due to the increase in their share (it would have been only £173bn had their share of the pie remained the same as 1998), and £12bn of this went to workers in the financial sector (almost all of which was bonus payments). We consider various reasons why the bankers have managed to capture an increasing share of the wage bill over the last decade.


Intergenerational persistence in income and social class: the effect of within-group inequality (2012)

Authors: Jo Blanden, Paul Gregg, Lindsey Macmillan

Summary: Family income is found to be more closely related to sons’ earnings for a cohort born in 1970 compared with a cohort born in 1958. This result is in stark contrast with the finding on the basis of social class; intergenerational mobility for this outcome is found to be unchanged. Our aim here is to explore the reason for this divergence. We derive a formal framework which relates mobility as measured by family income or earnings to mobility as measured by social class. Building on this framework we then test several alternative hypotheses to explain the difference between the trends. We find evidence of an increase in the intergenerational persistence of the permanent component of income that is unrelated to social class. We reject the hypothesis that the observed decline in income mobility is a consequence of the poor measurement of permanent family income in the 1958 cohort.


The Contribution of the Minimum Wage to U.S. Wage Inequality over Three Decades: A Reassessment (2016)

Author: Alan Manning, David H. Autor, Christopher L. Smith

Summary: We reassess the effect of minimum wages on US earnings inequality using additional decades of data and an IV strategy that addresses potential biases in prior work. We find that the minimum wage reduces inequality in the lower tail of the wage distribution, though by substantially less than previous estimates, suggesting that rising lower tail inequality after 1980 primarily reflects underlying wage structure changes rather than an unmasking of latent inequality. These wage effects extend to percentiles where the minimum is nominally nonbinding, implying spillovers. We are unable to reject that these spillovers are due to reporting artifacts, however. 


Minimum Wages and Earnings Inequality in Urban Mexico (2010)

Authors: Mariano Bosch, Marco Manacorda

Summary: This paper analyzes the contribution of the minimum wage to the well documented rise in earnings inequality in Mexico between the late 1980s and the early 2000s. We find that a substantial part of the growth in inequality, and essentially all of the growth in inequality in the bottom end of the distribution, is due to the steep decline in the real value of the minimum wage.


Offshoring and Wage Inequality: Using Occupational Licensing as a Shifter of Offshoring Costs (2010)

Authors: Chiara Criscuolo and Luis Garicano

Summary: Changes in information and communication technologies have increased the offshorability of tasks. A finding of the literature is that offshoring hurts disproportionately lower skill occupations, and those occupations that are more tradable. However, this literature has been hampered by the difficulty of finding a good proxy for offshoring costs. Our paper contributes to this body of research by utilizing a direct measure of the offshorability of the task: the legal licensing requirements on its execution. We identify a class of occupations that unambiguously benefits from offshoring: wages and employment of occupations subject to formal licensing requirements increase more the more offshoring increases in the services where these professionals are employed. Higher penetration of imports, in other words, helps, rather than hurts, these professions, suggesting that they benefit from complementarities with the offshored inputs.


The evolution of inequality in productivity and wages: panel data evidence (2010)

Authors: Giulia Faggio, Kjell G. Salvanes, John Van Reenen

Summary: There has been a remarkable increase in wage inequality in the United States, UK, and many other countries over the past three decades. A significant part of this appears to be within observable groups (such as experience-gender-skill cells). A generally untested implication of many theories rationalizing the growth of within-group inequality is that firm-level productivity dispersion should also have increased. We utilize a UK firm-level panel dataset covering the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors since the early 1980s. We find evidence that productivity inequality has increased.


Spend it like Beckham? Inequality and redistribution in the UK, 1983-2004 (2007)

Authors: Andreas Georgiadis and Alan Manning

Keywords: Taxation, Inequality, Redistribution

Summary: A main activity of the state is to redistribute resources. Models of the political process generally predict that a rise in inequality will lead to more redistribution. This paper shows that, for the UK in the period 1983-2004, a plausibly exogenous rise in income inequality has not been associated with increased redistribution. We then explore this further using attitudinal data. We show that the demand for redistribution, having shown considerable variation over time, is at an all-time low. We argue that the decline in the demand for redistribution can mostly be accounted for by an increasing belief in the importance of incentives though changes in preferences over the distribution of income have been important in some sub-periods.


Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy (2010)

Authors: Elhanan Helpman, Oleg Itskhoki, Stephen Redding

Summary: This paper develops a new framework for examining the determinants of wage distributions that emphasizes within-industry reallocation, labor market frictions, and differences in workforce composition across firms. More productive firms pay higher wages and exporting increases the wage paid by a firm with a given productivity. The opening of trade enhances wage inequality and can either raise or reduce unemployment. While wage inequality is higher in a trade equilibrium than in autarky, gradual trade liberalization first increases and later decreases inequality.

 Wage inequality in the Labour years(2013)

Authors: Joanne Lindley, Stephen Machin

Summary:This paper studies changes in labour market inequality in the UK, with particular reference to what happened to wage inequality during the years of Labour government

 The Role of Automatic Stabilizers in the US Business Cycle (2016)

Authors: Alisdair McKay, Ricardo Reis

Keywords: Countercyclical fiscal policy, heterogeneous agents, fiscal multipliers

Summary: Most countries have automatic rules in their tax‐and‐transfer systems that are partly intended to stabilize economic fluctuations. This paper measures their effect on the dynamics of the business cycle.

 Learning about the prospects for mobility: Economic and political dynamics following fundamental policy reform (2017)

Authors: John Morrow, Michael R. Carter 

Keywords: income dynamics, redistributive politics, polarization, Bayesian learning, Latin America

The political left turn in Latin America, which lagged its transition to liberalized market economies by a decade or more, challenges conventional economic explanations of voting behaviour. This paper generalizes the forward-looking voter model to a broad range of dynamic, possibly non-concave income processes. Under full information, the model implies support for redistributive policies materializes rapidly if few prospects of upward mobility are present. In contrast, modeling voters' evolving beliefs about an unknown income dynamic process shows a slow and polarizing shift toward redistributive preferences. Simulation using fitted income dynamics suggests that this imperfect information perspective accounts for Latin America's right-to-left political shift, and offers additional insights about political dynamics in the face of economic polarization.

The Political Economy of Inclusive Rural Growth (2014)

Author: John Morrow and Michael Carter

Keywords: poverty traps, political economy, inequality, lobby formation

Summary: Abstract Commentators on the `East Asian Miracle' of inclusive growth have often pointed toward shared rural growth policies. But why were these policies not chosen elsewhere? This paper models voters who invest in either subsistence or a complex technology in which public goods complement private capital. Investment and technology choices vary with wealth and the level of public goods enforced by political lobbies. Outcomes depend on the strength of the incipient middle class who bolster political incentives through contributions. Economies with a stronger middle class due to lower inequality or lower risk may thereby sustain higher productivity through public good provision.  


Wage inequality, technology and trade: 21st century evidence (2011)

Author: John Van Reenen

Summary: This paper describes and explains some of the principal trends in the wage and skill distribution in recent decades. Increases in wage inequality started in the US and UK at the end of the 1970s, but are now widespread. A good fraction of this inequality trend is due to technology-related increases in the demand for skilled workers outstripping the growth of their supply. Since the early 1990s, labor markets have become more polarized with jobs in the middle third of the wage distribution shrinking and those in the bottom and top third rising. I argue that this is because computerization complements the most skilled tasks, but substitutes for routine tasks performed by middle wage occupations such as clerks, leaving the demand for the lowest skilled service tasks largely unaffected. Finally, I argue that technology is partly endogenous, for example it has been spurred by trade with China. Thus, trade does matter for changes in the labor market, but through a different mechanism than conventionally thought.


Selection into Trade and Wage Inequality (2014)

Author: Thomas Sampson

Summary: This paper analyzes how intra-industry trade affects the wage distribution when both workers and firms are heterogeneous. Positive assortative matching between worker skill and firm technology generates an employer size-wage premium and an exporter wage premium. Fixed export costs cause the selection of advanced technology, high-skill firms into exporting, and trade shifts the firm technology distribution upwards. Consequently, trade increases skill demand and wage inequality in all countries, both on aggregate and within the upper tail of the wage distribution. This holds when firms receive random technology draws and when technology depends on firmlevel R&D.


Differences in exam performance between pupils attending selective and non-selective schools mirror the genetic differences between them (2018)

Authors: Emily Smith-Woolley, Jean-Baptiste Pingault, Saskia Selzam, Kaili Rimfeld, Eva Krapohl, Sophie von Stumm, Kathryn Asbury, Philip S. Dale, Toby Young, Rebecca Allen, Yulia Kovas, Robert Plomin 

Summary: On average, students attending selective schools outperform their non-selective counterparts in national exams. These differences are often attributed to value added by the school, as well as factors schools use to select pupils, including ability, achievement and, in cases where schools charge tuition fees or are located in affluent areas, socioeconomic status. However, the possible role of DNA differences between students of different schools types has not yet been considered. We used a UK-representative sample of 4814 genotyped students to investigate exam performance at age 16 and genetic differences between students in three school types: state-funded, non-selective schools (‘non-selective’), state-funded, selective schools (‘grammar’) and private schools, which are selective (‘private’). We created a genome-wide polygenic score (GPS) derived from a genome-wide association study of years of education (EduYears). We found substantial mean genetic differences between students of different school types: students in non-selective schools had lower EduYears GPS compared to those in grammar (d = 0.41) and private schools (d = 0.37). Three times as many students in the top EduYears GPS decile went to a selective school compared to the bottom decile. These results were mirrored in the exam differences between school types. However, once we controlled for factors involved in pupil selection, there were no significant genetic differences between school types, and the variance in exam scores at age 16 explained by school type dropped from 7% to <1%. These results show that genetic and exam differences between school types are primarily due to the heritable characteristics involved in pupil admission.


Genetic Influence on Intergenerational Educational Attainment (2017)

Authors: Ziada Ayorech, Eva Krapohl, Robert Plomin, Sophie von Stumm

Keywords: intergenerational educational attainment, twin studies, behavioral genetics, polygenic score

Summary: Using twin (6,105 twin pairs) and genomic (5,825 unrelated individuals taken from the twin sample) analyses, we tested for genetic influences on the parent-offspring correspondence in educational attainment. Genetics accounted for nearly half of the variance in intergenerational educational attainment. A genomewide polygenic score (GPS) for years of education was also associated with intergenerational educational attainment: The highest and lowest GPS means were found for offspring in stably educated families (i.e., who had taken A Levels and had a university-educated parent; M = 0.43, SD = 0.97) and stably uneducated families (i.e., who had not taken A Levels and had no university-educated parent; M = −0.19, SD = 0.97). The average GPSs fell in between for children who were upwardly mobile (i.e., who had taken A Levels but had no university-educated parent; M = 0.05, SD = 0.96) and children who were downwardly mobile (i.e., who had not taken A Levels but had a university-educated parent; M = 0.28, SD = 1.03). Genetic influences on intergenerational educational attainment can be viewed as an index of equality of educational opportunity.


Socioeconomic status amplifies the achievement gap throughout compulsory education independent of intelligence (2017)

Author: Sophie von Stumm

Summary: Children from lower socioeconomic status (SES) families tend to perform worse in school than children from more privileged backgrounds. However, it is unclear to what extent differences in intelligence account for the academic achievement gap between high and low SES children. A large, UK representative sample of 5804 children was assessed on intelligence and academic performance at the ages 7, 9, 10, 12, 14 and 16 years. Latent growth curve analysis showed that SES was positively associated with academic performance at age 7 (i.e. intercept; Est = 0.07; CI 95% 0.06 to 0.07; β = 0.32) and gains in academic performance or growth from age 7 to 16 (i.e. slope; Est = 0.02; CI 95% 0.01 to 0.02; β = 0.44). The associations were substantially attenuated but remained significant after adding IQ (intercept: Est = 0.03; CI 95% 0.04 to 0.07; β = 0.14; slope: Est = 0.01; CI 95% 0.01 to 0.01; β = 0.28), which accounted for 40% of the variance in academic performance and growth, respectively. Although IQ was the strongest predictor of academic performance from age 7 through 16, SES was associated with an independent benefit of half a grade level on average by the end of compulsory education.


‘Universal’ early education: Who benefits? Patterns in take‐up of the entitlement to free early education among three‐year‐olds in England (2018)

Authors: Tammy Campbell, Ludovica Gambaro, Kitty Stewart

Summary: For over a decade, all three‐year‐olds in England have been entitled to a free part‐time early education place. One aim of this policy is to close developmental gaps between higher‐income and low‐income children. However, the success of the initiative depends on children accessing the places. Using the National Pupil Database, we examine all autumn‐born four‐year‐olds attending in January 2011, and ask whether they started attending when first eligible, in January 2010. One in five children did not access their free place from the beginning, and the proportion is much higher among children from families with persistently low incomes. We also find differences by ethnicity and home language, but these factors explain only a small share of the income gradient. We go on to explore associations between non‐take‐up and local area factors. In areas with higher child poverty rates, take‐up is lower overall, but the gap between low‐income and other families is smaller. There are also various associations between take‐up and local proportions of different provider types (maintained, private, voluntary, Sure Start). In particular, the voluntary sector seems to have more flexibility than maintained provision to offer places in January, and more success than private providers in reaching children from lower‐income backgrounds. The analysis also highlights how take‐up overall is relatively high and the gap by income level is smaller in areas with more Sure Start provision. This suggests that aspects of Sure Start facilitated access among low‐income families, and could perhaps be replicated as implementation of the free entitlement continues to be expanded.


Stratified Failure: Educational Stratification and Students’ Attributions of Their Mathematics Performance in 24 Countries (2016)

Author: Jonathan J. B. Mijs

Keywords: educational stratification, lay attribution, mertiocracy, inequality, PISA

Summary: Country rankings based on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) invite politicians and specialists to speculate about the reasons their countries did well or failed to do well. Rarely, however, do we hear from the students on whose performance these rankings are based. This omission is unfortunate for two reasons. First, research suggests that how students explain their academic performance has important consequences for their future achievements. Second, prior studies show that students’ attributions of success and failure in education can develop into explanations for social inequalities in adulthood. This article draws on PISA 2012 data on 128,110 secondary school students in 24 countries to explore how educational stratification shapes students’ explanations of their academic performance. I find that students in mixed-ability groups tend to attribute their mathematics performance to their teachers and to (bad) luck, whereas vocational- and academic-track students are more likely to blame themselves for not doing well. These differences between mixed-ability group students and tracked students are more pronounced in school systems where tracking is more extensive. I conclude by discussing how these findings speak to the broader impact of educational stratification on students’ psychology and cognition and the legitimation of inequalities.

The Unfulfillable Promise of Meritocracy: Three Lessons and Their Implications for Justice in Education (2015)

Author: Jonathan J. B. Mijs

Keywords: Meritocracy, Educational institutions, Educational policy, Social stratification 

Summary: This paper draws on a literature in sociology, psychology and economics that has extensively documented the unfulfilled promise of meritocracy in education. I argue that the lesson learned from this literature is threefold: (1) educational institutions in practice significantly distort the ideal meritocratic process; (2) opportunities for merit are themselves determined by non-meritocratic factors; (3) any definition of merit must favor some groups in society while putting others at a disadvantage. Taken together, these conclusions give reason to understand meritocracy not just as an unfulfilled promise, but as an unfulfillable promise. Having problematized meritocracy as an ideal worth striving for, I argue that the pervasiveness of meritocratic policies in education threatens to crowd out as principles of justice, need and equality. As such, it may pose a barrier rather than a route to equality of opportunity. Furthermore, meritocratic discourse legitimates societal inequalities as justly deserved such as when misfortune is understood as personal failure. The paper concludes by setting a research agenda that asks how citizens come to hold meritocratic beliefs; addresses the persistence of (unintended) meritocratic imperfections in schools; analyzes the construction of a legitimizing discourse in educational policy; and investigates how education selects and labels winners and losers.


The burden of acting wise: sanctioned success and ambivalence about hard work at an elite school in the Netherlands (2016)

Authors: Jonathan J.B. Mijs, Bowen Paulle

Keywords: oppositional culture, acting white, acting wise, elite schools, educational tracking, the Netherlands

Summary: Sam and his classmates despise ‘nerds’: they say working hard in school makes a student unpopular, and that they purposefully do only the minimum to pass. Research suggests that such ‘oppositional’ attitudes are prevalent among working class students and/or ethnoracial minorities. Like most of his classmates, however, Sam is white, hails from a privileged background, and attends a selective school in the Netherlands. Deeply ambivalent about working hard and ‘acting wise’, Sam and the others constituting his adolescent society are thoroughly caught up in peer dynamics which sanction success and promote mediocrity. We link these anti-school peer dynamics to the institutional configuration of education in the Netherlands, characterized by rigid tracking at the end of primary school and non-selective universities: state structures and policies contribute to these privileged students’ rationale for ‘taking it easy’ and doing poorly in school.


Achievement Inequality and the Institutional Structure of Educational Systems: A Comparative Perspective (2010)

Authors: Herman G. Van de Werfhorst, Jonathan J.B. Mijs

Keywords: tracking, stratification, standardization, PISA, TIMSS

Summary: We review the comparative literature on the impact of national-level educational institutions on inequality in student achievement. We focus on two types of institutions that characterize the educational system of a country: the system of school-type differentiation (between-school tracking) and the level of standardization (e.g., with regard to central examinations and school autonomy). Two types of inequality are examined: inequality in terms of dispersion of student test scores and inequality of opportunity by social background and race/ethnicity. We conclude from this literature, which mostly uses PISA, TIMSS, and/or PIRLS data, that inequalities are magnified by national-level tracking institutions and that standardization decreases inequality. Methodological issues are discussed, and possible avenues for further research are suggested.


Snakes and ladders in educational systems: Second generation Turkish students in Europe compared (2013)

Author: Maurice Crul

Summary: In this article I compare the school trajectories of young adults from the same origin group—those whose parents were born in Turkey but who were, themselves, born in Europe (the second generation)—across the six European countries of Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Austria. I concentrate on second-generation Turkish youngsters whose parents only had low levels of schooling, in order to make the comparison across countries fair. There are large differences in school outcomes for the Turkish second generation in the six countries, particularly for those attending higher education—the main focus of this article. I define higher education as studies which lead to a BA or an MA qualification. Higher education outcomes are relatively easy to compare across countries (in contrast to, for instance, different upper- or post-secondary education levels). I focus on this absolute measure of success (higher education) as well as on the gap with students of native parentage (whose parents have similar low-level educational credentials). Both are important to assess and explain. A higher education qualification usually opens up the opportunity to establish a middle- or upper-class position in society. Big differences in higher education attendance will thus have a real effect on how the Turkish second generation will develop in each country. But school success can only be fully judged relative to the performance of the majority group.


Meritocracy or Plutocracy? Finding Explanations for the Educational Disadvantages of Moroccan Immigrants Living in the Netherlands (2009)

Author: Jonathan Mijs

Keywords: educational inequality, tracking, segregation, immigration, The Netherlands, meritocracy

Summary: Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands have, throughout the last decades, been relatively unsuccessful in both schooling and job attainment. Although later generations of immigrants are doing better than those of their parents (and grandparents), young Moroccan men tend to do worse than both native Dutch and other immigrant groups (especially those from Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles). Educational failure and high (youth) unemployment rates are seen as explanatory variables for their disproportionate dominance in the Netherlands’s crime statistics. This fact especially underlines the importance of an empirical investigation in the causes of, and policy resolutions for, Moroccan immigrants’ position within the Dutch educational system. In this paper a theoretical approach is formulated which integrates elements of the competing traditions of Human Capital Theory and Cultural Reproduction Theory into one theoretical framework. It is shown how social locations account for initial differences in educational opportunity, which tend to be reinforced through peer pressure in schools and neighborhoods, and through specific institutional characteristics of the Dutch educational system, namely, tracking and school segregation. It is only by taking into account these three factors that we can come to a comprehensive understanding of immigrants’ educational disadvantages. Furthermore, it is argued that such an understanding has profound consequences for questions of meritocracy and plutocracy relating to the educational system and to how we perceive the Moroccan immigrant position in Dutch society.


Intergenerational Mobility in the United States and Great Britain: A Comparative Study of Parent-Child Pathways (2013)

Authors: Jo Blanden, Robert Haveman, Timothy Smeeding, Kathryn Wilson

Summary: We build on cross-national research to examine the relationships underlying estimates of relative intergenerational mobility in the United States and Great Britain using harmonized longitudinal data and focusing on men. We examine several pathways by which parental status is related to offspring status, including education, labor market attachment, occupation, marital status, and health, and perform several sensitivity analyses to test the robustness of our results. We decompose differences between the two nations into that part attributable to the strength of the relationship between parental income and the child's characteristics and the labor market return to those child characteristics. We find that the relationships underlying these intergenerational linkages differ in systematic ways between the two nations. In the United States, primarily because of the higher returns to education and skills, the pathway through offspring education is relatively more important than it is in Great Britain; by contrast, in Great Britain the occupation pathway forms the primary channel of intergenerational persistence.


Understanding the improved performance of disadvantaged pupils in London (2015)

Authors: Jo Blanden, Ellen Greaves, Paul Gregg, Lindsey Macmillan, and Luke Sibieta

Keywords: education, inequality, london, schools, performance

Summary: This paper uses a combination of administrative and survey data to document the improvements of educational results for disadvantaged students in London and to understand why the performance has improved so much.

Educational Inequality, Educational Expansion and Intergenerational Mobility (2016)

Authors: Jo Blanden and Lindsey MacMilan

Summary: The distribution of education by social background and the mobility prospects of society are intimately connected. To begin to predict future trends in mobility in the UK we bring together evidence on educational inequality by family background for cohorts from 1958 to 2000 for a range of educational outcomes. There is evidence that educational inequalities have narrowed among recent cohorts as the overall level of educational achievement has increased. This could be promising for mobility provided the labour market returns to these qualifications are maintained. However, stubborn inequalities by background at higher attainment levels imply that narrowing inequalities and expanding equality of opportunity throughout the educational distribution is a difficult task.

Can schools support HIV/AIDS-affected children? Exploring the 'ethic of care' amongst rural Zimbabwean teachers  (2016)

Authors: Catherine Campbell, Louise Andersen, Alice Mutsikiwa, Claudius Madanhire, Constance Nyamukapa, and Simon Gregson

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Zimbabwe, international education, education policy, public health, ethic of care

Summary: This paper explores the ethic of care in Zimbabwean schools to highlight the poor fit between the western caring schools literature and daily realities of schools in different material and cultural contexts. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 44 teachers and 55 community members and analysed in light of a companion study of HIV/AIDS-affected pupils' own accounts of their care-related experiences.

The relationship between stream placement and teachers' judgements of pupils: Evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study (2017)

Author: Tammy Campbell

Keywords: assessments, judgements, millennium cohort study, perceptions, primary education, streaming

Summary: This paper tests the hypothesis that stream placement influences teacher judgements of pupils, thus investigating a route through which streaming by 'ability' may contribute to inequalities.

Stereotyped at Seven? Biases in Teacher Judgement of Pupils' Ability and Attainment (2015)

Author: Tammy Campbell

Keywords: assessments, judgements, primary education

Summary: There is evidence that teacher judgements and assessments of primary school pupils can be systematically biased. This paper tests the proposal that stereotyping plays a part in creating these judgement inequalities and is instrumental in achievement variation according to income-level, gender, special educational needs status, ethnicity and spoken language. It strengthens the evidence that stereotyping of pupils may contribute to assessment and thereby attainment inequalities, and concludes that an increased focus on tackling this process may lead to greater parity and a narrowing of gaps. 


Stratified at seven: in-class ability grouping and the relative age effect (2013)

Author: Tammy Campbell

Keywords: age effect, primary education

Summary: There is an established body of evidence indicating that a pupil's relative age within their school year cohort is associated with academic attainment throughout compulsory education. Analysis here investigates a possible channel of this relative age effect: ability grouping in early primary school.


Making a Difference in Education: What the evidence says (2015)

Authors: Robert Cassen, Sandra McNally and Anna Vignoles

Keywords: education, education and state, Great Britain, educational change

Summary: This book surveys the evidence of what is and is not effective in English schools, concentrating on outcomes for disadvantaged pupils, with additional evidence from other countries where relevant. It covers a large range of topics, including Early Years, Literacy and Numeracy, Teacher Quality, Special Education Needs, ICT, Vocational Education, and School Organisation and Resources. 


Higher education, career opportunities, and intergenerational inequality (2016)

Authors: Claire Crawford, Paul Gregg, Lindsey Macmillan, Anna Vignoles and Gill Wyness

Keywords: higher education, social mobility, widening participation

Summary: The UK government has expressed a desire to increase social mobility, with policies to help achieve this aim focused on reducing inequalities in educational attainment. This paper draws together established and new information about the contribution that higher education can make to social mobility using a life-course approach, considering differences by family background in terms of university attendance and achievement, as well as occupation and earnings following graduation. The evidence strongly suggests that, even after taking these factors into account, graduates from affluent families are more likely to obtain a professional job and to see higher earnings growth in the labour market. We discuss the implications of these findings for the prospects of higher education as a route to greater social mobility.

How policies that promote school competition and choice are linked to school segregation (2015)

Author: Jeremy E. Fiel

Keywords: American public schools, charter schools, private schools, resources, distribution, United States 

Summary: This post for the LSE US Centre argues that much of the re-segreation trends in American public schools is related to new policies which give families the opportunity to take advantage of schools they see as being 'better'. Using school system data from 1993 to 2010, the author finds that school segregation in cities was highest when school resources were distributed unequally across schools and districts and when families had more choice to send their children to private or charter schools.

Inequality of Educational Outcomes: International Evidence from PISA (2011)

Authors: Richard B. Freeman, Stephen J. Machin, Martina G. Viarengo

Keywords: Education, Public Policy, Inequality

Summary: This paper examines the relation between measures of the within-country inequality of student scores on international academic tests and the average level of scores across countries, using the PISA mathematics tests over 2000-2009. It finds that average test scores are higher in countries with lower inequality in scores – a virtuous efficiency-equity relation in test performance – and that family background factors are differently associated with student test performance across countries, but display little impact on the countrywide dispersion of test scores.

Educação para todos - "free to those who can afford it": Human capital and inequality persistence in 21st C Brazil  (2013)

Author: Neil Kendrick

Keywords: education, Brazil, higher education, human capital, inequality

Summary: This paper utilizes socio-economic profiles of university students that indicates that between 1987-2010, the Brazilian education system could have exacerbated inequality, despite society having undertaken national educational expansion.

Entry to elite positions and the stratification of higher education in Britain (2015)

Authors: Paul Wakeling and Mike Savage

Keywords: class, elite, education, higher education, institutional stratification, social class, inequality

Summary: This paper uses the Great British Class Survey (GBCS) to examine association between social background, university attended and social position for over 85,000 graduates. This unique dataset allows the researchers to look beyond the clear labour market experiences of graduates investigated in previous studies and to examine the outcome of attending particular institutions.


Heading Home: Motherhood, Work, and the Failed Promise of Equality (2019)

Author: Shani Orgad

Summary: Women in today’s advanced capitalist societies are encouraged to “lean in.” The media and government champion women’s empowerment. In a cultural climate where women can seemingly have it all, why do so many successful professional women—lawyers, financial managers, teachers, engineers, and others—give up their careers after having children and become stay-at-home mothers? How do they feel about their decision and what do their stories tell us about contemporary society?
Heading Home reveals the stark gap between the promise of gender equality and women’s experience of continued injustice. It draws on in-depth, personal, and profoundly ambivalent interviews with highly educated London women who left paid employment to take care of their children while their husbands continued to work in high-powered jobs. Equipped with the language of feminism, the women Shani Orgad interviews clearly identify the structural forces that produce and maintain gender inequality. Yet they still struggle to articulate their decisions outside the narrow cultural ideals that devalue motherhood and individualize success and failure. Orgad juxtaposes these stories with media and policy depictions of women, work, and family, detailing how—even as their experiences fly in the face of fantasies of having it all, work-life balance, and marriage as an egalitarian partnership—these women continue to interpret and judge themselves according to the ideals that are failing them. Rather than calling for women to transform their feelings and behavior, Heading Home powerfully argues that we must unmute and amplify women’s desire, disappointment, and rage while demanding the creation of social infrastructure that will bring about long-overdue equality both at work and at home.


What excludes women from landownership in Turkey? Implications for feminist strategies (2018)

Author: Ece Kocabicak

Summary: This article investigates the reasons for women's exclusion from landownership in Turkey. Landownership is a crucial element in enabling greater gender equality in developing countries. I argue that the Turkish civil code(1926–2001) discriminated against women in inheriting small-scale agrarian land, and the lack of alignment between separate feminist agendas weakened their capacity to challenge the gender-discriminatory legal framework. Historical analysis of the Ottoman and the Republican periods identifies the diverse implications for women's property rights of transition from the Islamic-premodern to the modern legal framework. The selected period reveals that rural and urban women were divided by changing forms of patriarchal domination, gendered landownership and paid employment. This division of women, alongside attacks and manipulation by the state, prevented the first-wave feminist movement from acting collectively. Consequently, the civil code granted education, employment, and inheritance rights to urban women but discriminated against rural women inheriting small-scale land under cultivation.


The cruel optimism of The Good Wife: the fantastic working mother on the fantastical treadmill (2017)

Author: Shani Orgad

Summary: This paper juxtaposes The Good Wife’s (TGW) representation of Alicia Florrick's experience as a professional woman and a mother, against interview accounts of middle-class women who left successful careers after having children. I show that TGW furnishes a compelling fantasy based on (1) the valorization of combining motherhood with competitive, long hours high-powered waged work as the basis for a woman’s value and liberation, and (2) an emphasis on women’s professional performance and satisfaction as depending largely on their individual self-confidence and ability to “lean in”, while marginalizing the impact of structural issues on women’s success and workplace equality. This fantasy fails to correspond to women’s lived experience, but shapes their sense of self in painful ways. The TGW fantasy thus involves a relation of “cruel optimism”: it attracts women to desire it while impeding them from tackling the structural issues that are obstructing realization of their desire.


Class: Disidentification, Singular Selves and Person-Value (Published in Portuguese as Classe; Disidenificacao, Selves Singulars E Valor Da Pessoa) (2016)

Author: Bev Skeggs

Summary: In all the research I have conducted in the UK I have found one consistently repeated issue in relation to identity: the women who would be defined by almost any sociological measurement as working class resolutely refuse to make an identification with the term working class. For them class is a category loaded with negative connotations, a category by which they believe they are mis-recognised and from which they dis-identify. The ethnography Formations of Class and Gender documents this process in detail. The point of this paper is to show how identity is a slippery term always associated with visibility and value, and it is to the evaluation of identity categories that attention should be focused.


The Rainbow Is Burning: Analysing Public Contemporary Art as Site of the Polish Symbolic Conflict Over LGBT Rights, the Nation and Europe (2016)

Author: Roch Dunin‐Wąsowicz

Summary: This paper examines the meanings and the social function of the Rainbow artwork mounted on one of Warsaw's central squares. It analyses how its public presence became site of the Polish symbolic conflict over LGBT rights, nationhood, and Europe. On the one hand, the Rainbow illuminates existing social cleavages – the way in which Polish national subjectivity is currently reconstructed in relation to undergoing social and civilisational changes after EU accession. On the other hand, the Rainbow not only represents existing differences in society, but itself catalyses polarisation of public attitudes. It does so mainly because of its perceived LGBT symbolism. It is shown that while the symbolic conflict may be intensifying and political fringe polarisation is indeed occurring, popular sentiments are actually liberalising, public visibility of the LGBT minority is historically unparalleled, and a European civilisational aspiration is overwhelmingly embraced in Polish society. This paper shows that though homophobic right‐wing radicalisation does occur, it is mainly a result of political ideology supply, and that overwhelming popular support for the artwork and its ‘gay’ meaning reflects actual social liberalisation and a pluralisation of the public sphere in contemporary Poland.


LGBTQs, media and culture in Europe (2017)

Authors: Alexander Dhoest, Lukasz Szulc, Bart Eeckhout

Summary: Media matter, particularly to social minorities like lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Rather than one homogenised idea of the ‘global gay’, what we find today is a range of historically and culturally specific expressions of gender and sexuality, which are reflected and explored across an ever increasing range of media outlets. This collection zooms in on a number of facets of this kaleidoscope, each chapter discussing the intersection of a particular European context and a particular medium with its affordances and limitations. While traditional mass media form the starting point of this book, the primary focus is on digital media such as blogs, social media and online dating sites. All contributions are based on recent, original empirical research, using a plethora of qualitative methods to offer a holistic view on the ways media matter to particular LGBTQ individuals and communities. Together the chapters cover the diversity of European countries and regions, of LGBTQ communities, and of the contemporary media ecology. Resisting the urge to extrapolate, they argue for specificity, contextualisation and a provincialized understanding of the connections between media, culture, gender and sexuality.


A reconfiguration of the sex trade: how social and structural changes in eastern Zimbabwe left women involved in sex work and transactional sex more vulnerable (2017)

Authors: Jocelyn Elmes, Morten Skovdal, Kundai Nhongo, Helen Ward, Catherine Campbell, Timothy B. Hallett, Constance Nyamukapa, Peter J. White and Simon Gregson

Summary: Understanding the dynamic nature of sex work is important for explaining the course of HIV epidemics. While health and development interventions targeting sex workers may alter the dynamics of the sex trade in particular localities, little has been done to explore how large-scale social and structural changes, such as economic recessions–outside of the bounds of organizational intervention–may reconfigure social norms and attitudes with regards to sex work. Zimbabwe’s economic collapse in 2009, following a period (2000–2009) of economic decline, within a declining HIV epidemic, provides a unique opportunity to study community perceptions of the impact of socio-economic upheaval on the sex trade. We conducted focus group discussions with 122 community members in rural eastern Zimbabwe in January-February 2009. Groups were homogeneous by gender and occupation and included female sex workers, married women, and men who frequented bars. The focus groups elicited discussion around changes (comparing contemporaneous circumstances in 2009 to their memories of circumstances in 2000) in the demand for, and supply of, paid sex, and how sex workers and clients adapted to these changes, and with what implications for their health and well-being. Transcripts were thematically analyzed. The analysis revealed how changing economic conditions, combined with an increased awareness and fear of HIV–changing norms and local attitudes toward sex work–had altered the demand for commercial sex. In response, sex work dispersed from the bars into the wider community, requiring female sex workers to employ different tactics to attract clients. Hyperinflation meant that sex workers had to accept new forms of payment, including sex-on-credit and commodities. Further impacting the demand for commercial sex work was a poverty-driven increase in transactional sex. The economic upheaval in Zimbabwe effectively reorganized the market for sex by reducing previously dominant forms of commercial sex, while simultaneously providing new opportunities for women to exchange sex in less formal and more risky transactions. Efforts to measure and respond to the contribution of sex work to HIV transmission need to guard against unduly static definitions and consider the changing socioeconomic context and how this can cause shifts in behavior.


Incongruous encounters: media representations and lived experiences of stay-at-home mothers (2016)

Author: Shani Orgad

Summary: This article juxtaposes mediated representations of stay-at-home mothers (SAHMs) with accounts of twenty-two UK -educated middle-class SAHMs. It exposes a fundamental chasm between media constructions of women’s “opting out” of the workplace as a personal choice, and the factors shaping women’s decisions to leave a career, and their complex, often painful consequences. The juxtaposition highlights three aspects largely rendered invisible in current representations of SAHMs: (1) the influence of husbands’ demanding careers and work cultures on their wives’ “choices” to not return to paid employment; (2) the issue of childcare; and (3) women’s immense unpaid domestic and maternal labour. Although media representations often fail to correspond to middle-class SAHMs’ lives, they shape their thinking and feelings and reconstruct their deepest yearnings and sense of self. In particular, SAHMs speak of feeling invisible, lacking confidence, and being silent and silenced. I conclude by discussing how the disconnect between media representation and SAHMs’ experience may be enhancing and sustaining their silence, which supports and re-secures a patriarchal capitalist system, and by reflecting on the role of feminist media research to voice the lived experience of gender inequality.


Under Pressure? Single parents in the UK (2016)

Author: Martina Klett-Davies

Summary: This report has just been published by the Bertelsmann Foundation as part of their Families and Education programme. Martina Klett-Davies analyses trends and characteristics associated with single parents in the UK from 1997 to 2015 and considers the everyday realities faced by two million single parents and their children in the UK. The Study report analyses empirical data, research and policy documents and discusses: - how the British welfare state has transformed single parents from carers to workers in low paid and precarious employment - how the costs and availability of childcare act as a barrier to employment - how parenting has become a target for intervention - the impact of legal aid cuts on mediation and post separation parenting - single parents as a prime example of the increasing social inequality apparent in Britain - reform options to improve the situation of single parent families in the UK.


Challenges and potential solutions for adolescent girls in urban settings: a rapid evidence review (2017)

Authors: Sylvia Chant, Martina Klett-Davies, Jordana Ramalho

Summary: This rapid evidence review explores the vulnerabilities of adolescent girls and young women who are increasingly flocking to cities and urban centres for employment. It reviews efforts to target this cohort and highlights emerging, promising interventions that might help to mitigate the specific risks that urban girls face. Given the evidence base on urban adolescent experiences is thin, this rapid evidence review aims to outline gaps in existing knowledge on the vulnerabilities and challenges faced by adolescent girls in urban contexts, so as to contribute to evidence-informed programming and policy dialogues and action. 


A gendered ethnography of elites: Women, inequality, and social reproduction (2018)

Author: Luna Glucksberg

Keywords: Alpha Territories, class, elites, ethnography, gender, wealth transfer

Summary: This article offers a critical ethnography of the reproduction of elites and inequalities through the lenses of class and gender. The successful transfer of wealth from one generation to the next is increasingly a central concern for the very wealthy. This article shows how the labor of women from elite and non-elite backgrounds enables and facilitates the accumulation of wealth by elite men. From covering “the home front” to investing heavily in their children’s future, and engaging non-elite women’s labor to help them, the elite women featured here reproduced not just their families, but their families as elites. Meanwhile, the aff ective and emotional labor of non-elite women is essential for maintaining the position of wealth elites while also locking those same women into the increasing inequality they help to reproduce.


Domesticating the nation online: banal nationalism on LGBTQ websites in Poland and Turkey (2016)

Author: Lukasz Szulc

Summary: In this article I examine the intersections of queer sexualities and the nation online. In particular, I employ Billig’s concept of banal nationalism to investigate when and how the nation is flagged on the most popular LGBTQ websites in Poland and Turkey. The analysis focuses on both the mediation of nationhood through (re)producing the world as a world of nation and the mediation of particular nations through the coupling of queer symbolism with national symbolism. I conclude by proposing the concept of ‘domesticating the nation online’, which is a form of queering the nation via digital technology, though not to challenge hegemonic national discourses in a public debate but to make the nation more homely for queers themselves. Finally, I juxtapose the concept of banal nationalism with the US neo-imperial cultural logic to argue that domesticating the nation online plays an especially important role for queers beyond the USA.


Gender inequality in mobility and mode choice in Pakistan (2016)

Authors: Muhammad Adeel, Anthony G. O. Yeh and Feng Zhang

Keywords: travel behaviour, gender, Pakistan, social context

Summary: Using the nationally representative dataset of the 2007 Pakistan Time-Use Survey, this paper examines gender differences in daily trip rate, mode choice, travel duration, and purpose of travel, which are previously unreported because of limited data availability. Wide gender mobility gaps are observed in the country, where women are less likely to travel, are half as mobile as men and may rely heavily on walking. The particular social and cultural context of the country, that renders women as private, secluded and family honor, seems influential in shaping their mobility and choice of activities. Demographic factors such as age, household income, and marital status significantly decrease female mobility levels. Hence, these findings call for a gender-based culturally responsive transportation policy in the country.


Top incomes and the gender divide (2016)

Authors: Anthony Atkinson, Alessandra Casarico and Sarah Voitchovsky

Keywords: top income groups, gender, income composition

Summary: In the recent research on top incomes, there has been little discussion of gender. How many of the top 1 and 10 per cent are women? A great deal is known about gender differentials in earnings, but how far does this carry over to the distribution of total incomes, bringing self-employment and capital income into the picture? This paper investigates the gender divide at the top of the income distribution using tax record data for a sample of eight countries with individual taxation. It shows that women are under-represented at the top of the distribution.


Creating social policy to support women's agency in coercive settings: a case study from Uganda (2016)

Authors: Rochelle Burgess and Catherine Campbell

Keywords: social policy, Uganda, gender, agency  

Summary: The Ugandan Marriage and Divorce Bill seeks to strengthen women's agency in marriage, but has faced many obstacles, including objections from many women themselves in public consultations. This paper explores key stakeholders' accounts of the difficulties facing the Bill's progress to date, through focus groups with 24 rural and urban men and women, interviews with 14 gender champions in government, non-governmental organisations and legal sectors, and 25 relevant media and radio reports. 


Homonationalism and Western progressive narrative: locating ‘conservative heartlands’ with Zenne Dancer (2012) and its Western reviews (2015)

Authors: Lukasz Szulc, Kevin Smets

Summary: In this paper, we analyze the Turkish film Zenne Dancer (2012), which is largely based on what has been called a first gay honor killing in Turkey. We employ a framing analysis to both the film's content and its Western reviews to compare how different media texts frame the murder. The results indicate that while both the film and the reviews recognize tradition, understood here as native and archaic values as well as Islamic religion, as a key factor behind the murder, they locate this tradition quite differently: the film relegates it to the eastern Turkey, and thus implicitly to Kurds, while the reviews tend to extend it to the entire country or even the whole Middle East. We relate these results to the Western progressive narrative that positions the West as a civic and moral ideal that could be achieved by others over time. In particular, we employ Puar's concept of homonationalism to show how different media texts challenge or exploit the Western imperative to ‘come out’ and what effects it has for the East–West juxtapositions.

The Curious Question of Feminising Poverty in Costa Rica: The Importance of Gendered Subjectives  (2008)

Author: Sylvia Chant, Professor of Development Geography, LSE Gender Institute

Keywords: Costa Rica, feminism, poverty, gender, household, Global South

Children In Female-Headed Households: Interrogating the Concept of an 'Inter-Generational Transmission of Disadvantage' with Particular Reference to the Gambia, Philippines, and Costa Rica  (2007)

Author: Sylvia Chant, Professor of Development Geography, LSE Gender Institute

Keywords: Costa Rica, Philippines, Gambia, gender, household, poverty, women, children, inter-generational, well-being


Re-visiting the 'Feminisation of Poverty' and the UNDP Gender Indices: What Case for a Gendered Poverty Index?  (2006)

Author: Sylvia Chant, Professor of Development Geography, LSE Gender Institute

Keywords: gender, women, poverty, feminism, income, UNDP, capabilities, income, index

Women, Girls and World Poverty: Empowerment, Equity or Essentialism? (2016)

Author: Sylvia Chant

Keywords: gender equality, female empowerment, world poverty, economics, rights

Summary: This paper asks if mounting reliance on women and girls to solve world poverty is an effective means to achieve greater female empowerment and gender equality, or whether, instead, it threatens to lockdown essentialising stereotypes which are unlikely to dismantle gender disparities within and beyond the home. The discussion highlights some key problems and paradoxes in three popular interventions nominally oriented to helping women lift themselves and their households out of poverty: conditional cash transfer programmes, microfinance schemes, and 'investing in girls', as promoted, inter alia, among other things, by the Nike Foundation's 'Girl Effect'.


Exploring the "feminisation of poverty" in relation to women's work and home-based enterprise in slums of the Global South (2014)

Author: Sylvia Chant

Keywords: family business, gender theory, women, informal economy, work, Costa Rica, "Feminisation of poverty", home-based enterprise, slum, The Gambia, Philippines

Summary: The paper argues that the "feminisation of poverty" compounds the tensions women already face in terms of managing unpaid reproductive and/or "volunteer" work with their economic contributions to household livelihoods, and it is in the context of urban slums, where housing, service and infrastructure deficiencies pose considerable challenges to women's dual burdens of productive and reproductive labour. The paper emphasizes that to more effectively address gender inequality while also alleviating poverty, policy interventions sensitive to women's multiple, time-consuming responsibilities and obligations are paramount.

Cities through a 'gender lens': a golden 'urban age' for women in the global South? (2013)

Author: Sylvia Chant

Keywords: cities, gender, inequality, poverty, property, slums, space

Summary: This paper reviews what we have learnt from the literature on gender and urban development. It discusses disparities in access to education and vocational training and to land and housing ownership through a "gender lens". It considers service deficiencies and associated time burdens, which limit income generation among women. Violence and gender, and gender divisions in access to different spaces within the city and in engagement in urban politics, are also covered. These factors cast doubt on whether women's contributions to the prosperity often associated with urbanization are matched by commensurate returns and benefits.

How we define competition fuels gender inequality in business (2015)

Author: Jane Dennehy

Keywords: gender, inequality, business, masculine, feminine, competition

Summary: This post on the LSE Business Review argues that competitive behaviour, limited to winning and losing stereotypes, is hypermasculine and fuels gender inequality in the business world.

Can We Afford (Not) to Care: Prospects and Policy  (2005) 

Author: Susan Himmelweit, PhD

Keywords: caring, distribution, social norms, unpaid economies, paid economies, opportunity costs, uncaring

Gender Equality, Economic Growth, and Women’s Agency (2015)

Author: Naila Kabeer

Keywords: agency, empowerment, development, growth, inequality, gender

Summary: Macroeconometric studies generally find fairly robust evidence that gender equality has a positive impact on economic growth, but reverse findings relating to the impact of economic growth on gender equality are far less consistent. The high level of aggregation at which these studies are carried out makes it difficult to ascertain the causal pathways that might explain this asymmetry in impacts. Using a feminist institutional framework, this contribution explores studies carried out at lower levels of analysis for insights into the pathways likely to be driving these two sets of relationships and a possible explanation for their asymmetry.

Violence against Women as ‘Relational’ Vulnerability: Endangering the Sustainable Human Development Agenda (2014)

Author: Naila Kabeer

Keywords: violence against women, human development, relational vulnerability

Summary: Violence against women can be conceptualized as a ‘relational vulnerability’, reflecting women’s subordinate status within hierarchical gender relations and the dependencies associated with it. While such violence can take many different forms, this paper focuses on the interpersonal violence of ‘normal’ times, most often within the home at the hands of intimate partners. The paper provides estimates of incidence, which suggest that it varies considerably across countries and by social group.

Organising women workers in the informal economy (2013)

Authors: Naila Kabeer, Kirsty Milward and Ratna Sudarshan

Keywords: women workers, informal economy, organisation, rights, collective action, strategies

Summary: This article focuses on the challenges facing organisation among the hardest-to-reach working women in the informal economy. What gives some of them the impetus and courage to organise? What is distinctive about the strategies they draw on to transcend their structurally disadvantaged position within the economy? What barriers do they continue to face in their efforts to address the injustices of the economic system? This article discusses these issues specifically in relation to the experience of two organisations: MAP Foundation, Thailand, and KKPKP, Pune, India.

Paid Work, Women's Empowerment and Inclusive Growth  (2013)

Author: Naila Kabeer, Ragui Assaad, Akosua Darkwah, Simeen Mahmud, Hania Sholkamy, Sakiba Tasneem, Dzodzi Tsikata, and Munshi Sulaiman 

Keywords: gender, growth, education, employment, labour, productivity, health, children, well-being, family, women

Gender Equality and Economic Growth: Is There a Win-Win?  (2013)

Author: Naial Kabeer and Luisa Natali 

Keywords: gender, economic growth, women, education, employment, health, well-being, development, cross-country regression analysis

Women's economic empowerment and inclusive growth: labour markets and enterprise development  (2012) 

Author: Naila Kabeer

Keywords: women, gender, empowerment, growth, inclusive growth, labour markets, enterprise, development

Leaving the Rice Fields, But Not the Countryside: Gender, Livelihood Diversification and Pro-Poor Growth in Rural Vietnam  (2000)

Author: Naila Kabeer and Tran Thi Van Anh

Keywords: Vietnam, Asia, gender, women, livelihood, poverty, growth, rural, prosperity, diversification, household

Confronting Gender Inequality: Findings from the LSE Commission on Gender, Inequality and Power  (2015)

Author: LSE Commission on Gender, Inequality and Power, LSE Gender Institute

Keywords: Gender, macroeconomics, quotas, gender awareness, social norms, politics, political parties, law, merit, women, media

Is economic policy sexist? (World Economic Forum blog post) (2015)

Author: Diane Perrons

Keywords: gender inequality, United Kingdom, public policy

Summary: Despite nearly 50 years of policy effort, the UK is still a long way from eradicating gender inequality. There has been progress on many fronts, but women are still far from prominent in political life; they are trivialized in the media; under-represented, underpaid and over-exploited in the labour market; and at risk of violence in the home.

Gendering the inequality debate (2015)

Author: Diane Perrons

Keywords: gender inequality, social norms, austerity, socially sustainable development

Summary: This article explores the gender dimensions of growing economic inequality, summarises key arguments from feminist economics which expose the inadequacy of current mainstream economic analysis on which ‘development’ is based, and argues for a ‘gender and equality’ approach to economic and social policy in both the global North and South.

Gendering inequality: a note on Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014)

Author: Diane Perrons

Keywords: gender, social norms, inequality, wages, Piketty, feminist economics

Summary: This paper attempts to enrich Piketty’s analysis in two main ways: first, by paying greater attention to the processes and social norms through which inequalities are produced and justified and second, by highlighting the ways in which inequality is experienced differently depending not only on class, but also on other aspects of identity including gender.

The New Economy and Earnings Inequalities: Explaining Social, Spatial and Gender Divisions in the UK and London  (2005)

Author: Diane Perrons, Professor of Economic Geography and Gender Studies, LSE Gender Institute

Keywords: gender, earnings, income, poverty, United Kingdom, London, economy, women

Confronting Gender Inequality: how far have we come in the UK?  (2015) 

Author: Professor Anne Phillips, LSE Department of Government

Keywords: gender, women, United Kingdom, economics, law, government, media, power, gender-based violence

Summary: Professor Anne Phillips reflects on the findings of the LSE Commission on Gender, Inequality and Power and begs the question of how far the United Kingdom has come in confronting gender inequality since the twentieth century.

Geography, Land & Water

The Quest to Bring Land under Social and Political Control: Land Reform Struggles of the Past and Present in Ecuador (2016)

Author: Geoff Goodwin

Keywords: land reform, land markets, social movements, Ecuador, Karl Polanyi

Summary: Land reform was one of the most important policies introduced in Latin America in the twentieth century and remains high on the political agenda due to sustained pressure from rural social movements. Improving our understanding of the issue therefore remains a pressing concern. This paper responds to this need by proposing a new theoretical framework to explore land reform and providing a fresh analysis of historical and contemporary land struggles in Ecuador. Drawing on the pioneering work of Karl Polanyi, the paper characterizes these struggles as the attempt to increase the social and political control of land in the face of mounting commodification. The movement started in the 1960s and remains evident in Ecuador today. Exploring land reform in Ecuador from this theoretical perspective provides new insight into land struggles in the country and contributes to debates over land reforms of the past and present elsewhere in the Global South.

Transportation disadvantage and activity participation in the cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Pakistan (2016)

Authors: Muhammad Adeel, Anthony Gar-On Yeh, Feng Zhang

Keywords: transport policy, public transport, activity participation, poverty, social exclusion, Pakistan

Summary: This paper explores public transport related issues and their impact on activity participation in everyday life in the Pakistani urban context.

Inequality and patterns of urban growth (2016)

Author: Ricky Burdett


Can cities help reduce inequality? (2016)

Author: Ricky Burdett

Summary: The growth of urbanisation has created stark inequalities around the world. Through more intelligent design and use of urban spaces, can we move towards a situation where cities 
provide safe, prosperous and enjoyable places to live for all their inhabitants?


Designing Inequality? (2016)

Author: Ricky Burdett

Summary: How much is the design profession to blame for the stark inequality of Brazilian cities and other global metropolises? Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and Director of its Cities and the Urban Age Programme, questions the ability of designers to often fully ‘grasp the social and environmental implications of the spatial decisions they take’.  

The spatial pattern of premature mortality in Hong Kong: How does it relate to public housing? (2016)

Authors: Ricky Burdett, Jens Kandt, Shu-Sen Chang, Paul Yip

Keywords: Asian cities, housing, premature mortality, public housing, spatial analysis, urban health disparities

Summary: Research into understanding the relationship between access to housing, health and wellbeing in cities has yielded mixed evidence to date and has been limited to case studies from Western countries. Many studies appear to highlight the negative effects of public housing in influencing the health of its residents. Current trends in the urban housing markets in cities of advanced Asian economies and debates surrounding the role of government in providing housing underscore the need for more focused research into housing and health. In this paper, we investigate Hong Kong as an example of a thriving Asian city by exploring and comparing the intra-urban geographies of premature mortality and public housing provision in the city.


Uneven growth: tactical urbanisms for exapnding megacities (2014)

Authors: Ricky Burdett, Pedro Gadanho, Teddy Cruz, David Harvey, Saskia Sassen, Nader Tehrani

Summary: In 2030, the world's population will be a staggering eight billion people. Of these, two-thirds will live in cities; most will be poor. With limited resources, this unbalanced growth will be one of the greatest challenges faced by societies across the globe. In the coming years, city authorities, urban planners, designers, economists and others will have to join forces to avoid a major social and economic catastrophe and to ensure that these expanding megacities will be habitable. Exploring how emergent forms of tactical urbanism could address rapid and uneven urban growth around the globe, The Museum of Modern Art presents Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities, its third iteration of the Issues in Contemporary Architecture series. 


Designing urban democracy: mapping scales of urban identity (2013)

Author: Ricky Burdett

Summary: Much of the discourse on the future of cities is trapped in a professional paradigm that focuses on the role of urban planners and policy makers, while everyday urban realities are being shaped by a very different set of informal processes and actors that are largely immune to planning and policy making. Based on the observation and analysis of projects, developments, and initiatives at a metropolitan level and “on the ground” in over twenty cities, this essay argues that the potential for social integration and democratic engagement of socially excluded urban residents is often realized through small-scale “acupuncture” projects, which succeed in bringing people and communities together in ways that formal planning processes have failed to do.


Economic transition and speculative urbanisation in China: Gentrification versus dispossession (2016)

Author: Hyun Bang Shin

Keywords: China, dispossession, economic transition, gentrification, speculative urbanisation

Summary: This paper argues that while China’s urban accumulation may have produced new-build gentrification, redevelopment projects have been targeting dilapidated urban spaces that are yet to be fully converted into commodities. This means that dispossession is a precursor to gentrification.

Intergenerational Housing Support Between Retired Old Parents and their Children in Urban China (2013)

Authors: Bingqin Li and Hyun Bang Shin

Keywords: intergenerational support, housing, China, urban

Summary: This paper investigates the changing pattern of intergenerational housing support between retired old parents and their children, and the legacy of public housing in shaping this pattern.

Whose games? The cost of being “Olympic citizens” in Beijing (2013)

Authors: Hyun Bang Shin and Bingqin Li

Keywords: Olympic Games, Beijing, China, citizens

Summary: The research in this paper, which focused on the Beijing Summer Olympic Games of 2008, unpacks the heterogeneous groups in a particular sector of the housing market to gain a better understanding of how the Games affected different resident groups.

Unequal cities of spectacle and mega-events in China (2012)

Author: Hyun Bang Shin

Keywords: mega-events, spectacles, capital accumulation, nationalism, China

Summary: This paper revisits China’s recent experiences of hosting three international mega-events: the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. While maintaining a critical political economic perspective, this paper builds upon the literature of viewing mega-events as societal spectacles and puts forward the proposition that these mega-events in China are promoted to facilitate capital accumulation and ensure socio-political stability for the nation’s further accumulation.

Government quality and spatial inequality: A cross-country analysis (2013)

Authors: Roberto Ezcurra and Andres Rodriguez-Pose

Keywords: governance, government quality, spatial inequality, regional disparities 

Summary: This paper examines the relationship between government quality and spatial inequality across 46 countries over the period 1996-2006. The results of the analysis point to the existence of a negative and significant association between government quality and the magnitude of regional disparities.

"We can all just get on a bus and go": rethinking independent mobility in the context of the universal provision of free bus travel to young Londoners (2013)

Authors: Anna Goodman, Alasdair Jones, Helen Roberts, Rebecca Steinbach, Judith Green

Keywords: independent mobility, children, adolescents, bus, free travel, London

Summary: This paper uses qualitative data from interviews with 118 young Londoners to examine how the universal provision of free bus travel has affected young people's independent mobility.

More than A to B: the role of free bus travel for the mobility and wellbeing of older citizens in London (2014)

Authors: Judith Green, Alasdair Jones, Helen Roberts

Keywords: bus travel, loneliness, mobility, wellbeing

Summary: This study contributes to the literature on mobility and wellbeing at older ages through an empirical exploration of the meanings of free bus travel for older citizens, addressing the meanings this holds for older people in urban settings, which have been under-researched. 

Where's the Capital? A geographical essay (2014)

Author: Gareth A. Jones

Summary: This paper is inspired by Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Piketty does a wonderful job of tracing income and wealth over time, and relating changes to trends of economic and population growth, and drawing out the implications for inequality, inheritance and even democracy. But, he says relatively little about where capital is located, how capital accumulation in one place relies on activities elsewhere, how capital is urbanized with advanced capitalism and what life is like in spaces without capital. This paper asks ‘where is the geography in Capital’ or ‘where is the geography of capital in Capital’?

The Geographies of Capital: Inequality, Political Economy and Space in Boushey, H. et al. (eds), After Piketty: the Agenda for Economics and Inequality (2017)

Author: Gareth A. Jones

Summary: Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is the most widely discussed work of economics in recent history, selling millions of copies in dozens of languages. But are its analyses of inequality and economic growth on target? Where should researchers go from here in exploring the ideas Piketty pushed to the forefront of global conversation? A cast of economists and other social scientists tackle these questions in dialogue with Piketty, in what is sure to be a much-debated book in its own right. 

Is There Trickle-Down from Tech? Poverty, Employment, and the High-Technology Multiplier in U.S. Cities  (2015)

Authors: Neil Lee and Andrés Rodríguez-Pose

Keywords: employment, high-technology industries, metropolitan areas, poverty, wages

Summary: Little research, however, has assessed how high-tech affects urban poverty and the wages of workers with little formal education. This article addresses this gap in the literature and investigates the relationships among employment in high-tech industries, poverty, and the labor market for non-degree-educated workers using a panel of 295 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the United States between 2005 and 2011. The results show no real impact of the presence of high-technology industries on poverty and, especially, extreme poverty. Yet there is strong evidence that tech employment increases wages for non-degree-educated workers and, to a lesser extent, employment for those without degrees. These findings suggest that although tech employment has some role in improving welfare for non-degree-educated workers, tech employment alone is not enough to reduce poverty.

Inequalities of Income and Inequalities of Longevity: A Cross-Country Study (2016)

Authors: Eric Neumayer and Thomas Plümper

Keywords: Income inequality, longevity, life expectancy, redistribution, cross-country

Summary: This paper sets out to demonstrate that increases in income inequality within a country result in more inequality in the number of years people live. Conversely, this paper demonstrates that increases in income redistribution result in greater equality in longevity.

Comparing the health and wealth performance of metropolitan regions (2012)

Author: Antoine Paccoud 

Keywords: comparative, metropolitan regions, inequality, health, wealth

Summary: This paper presents a methodology to construct comparable estimates of health and wealth performance for 126 metropolitan regions globally that puts spatial comparability on an equal footing with data comparability. It will be used to investigate the relationship between health and wealth performance at the metropolitan level. 

Access to the city: transport, urban form and social exclusion in Sao Paulo, Mumbai and Istanbul (2016)

Authors: Philipp Rode, Jens Kandt and Karl Baker

Summary: Based on representative household surveys, this study analyses and compares accessibility levels across different socio-economic groups in three developing world megacities and their metropolitan regions; Istanbul, Sao Paulo and Mumbai.

Cities and social equity: inequality, territory and urban form (2009)

Authors: Philipp Rode, Ricky Burdett, Richard Brown, Frederico Ramos, Kay Kitazawa, Antoine Paccoud, and Natznet Tesfay 

Keywords: South America, urban, resource allocation, polarisation, geography, equity

Summary: This project assesses the impact of inequality in an urban context with comparative research and data collection in five cities (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Bogotá, and Lima), with wider resonance for cities throughout the world.

Use of science to guide city planning policy and practice: how to achieve healthy and sustainable future cities (2016)

Authors: James F Sallis, Fiona Bull, Ricky Burdett, Lawrence D Frank, Peter Griffiths, Billie Giles-Corti and Mark Stevenson

Keywords: health, urban design, transport, planning, public policy

Summary: Land-use and transport policies contribute to worldwide epidemics of injuries and non-communicable diseases through traffic exposure, noise, air pollution, social isolation, low physical activity, and sedentary behaviours. Enhanced research translation to increase the influence of health research on urban and transport planning decisions could address many global health problems. This paper illustrates the potential for such change by presenting conceptual models and case studies of research translation applied to urban and transport planning and urban design.

A longitudinal mixed logit model for estimation of push and pull effects in residential location choice (2016)

Authors: Fiona Steele, Elizabeth Washbrook, Christopher Charlton, William J. Brown

Keywords: conditional logit model, discrete choice model, neighborhood choice, random effects panel model, residential mobility

Summary: This paper develops a random effects discrete choice model for the analysis of households' choice of neighborhood over time. 

Cities and Social Equity: Inequality, territory and  urban form (2009)

Author: Urban Age Programme, The London School of Economics and Political Science

Keywords: cities, social equity, inequality, Brazil, South America

Summary: This report is part of the Urban Age Programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science and is a joint initiative of LSE and Deutsche Bank's Alfred Herrhausen Society investigating the future of cities. The research for this report was prepared from November 2007 to February 2009 and represents the annual Urban Age research focus 2008, part of the Urban Age South America investigation. 

Inequality, the Urban-Rural Gap, and Migration  (2013)

Author: Alwyn Young

Keywords: urban, rural, migration, income, gap 

Summary: This paper argues that the flows and relative incomes of urban and rural workers are suggestive of a world where the population sorts itself geographically on the basis of its human capital. It also displays a simple model that explains the urban-rural gap in living standards.

Endangered City: The Politics of Security and Risk in in Bogotá (2016)

Author: Austin Zeiderman

Summary: Security and risk have become central to how cities are planned, built, governed, and inhabited in the twenty-first century. In Endangered City, Austin Zeiderman focuses on this new political imperative to govern the present in anticipation of future harm. Through ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in Bogotá, Colombia, he examines how state actors work to protect the lives of poor and vulnerable citizens from a range of threats, including environmental hazards and urban violence. By following both the governmental agencies charged with this mandate and the subjects governed by it, Endangered City reveals what happens when logics of endangerment shape the terrain of political engagement between citizens and the state. The self-built settlements of Bogotá’s urban periphery prove a critical site from which to examine the rising effect of security and risk on contemporary cities and urban life.


Submergence: Precarious Politics in Colombia’s Future Port-City (2016)

Author: Austin Zeiderman

This article examines popular politics under precarious conditions in the rapidly expanding port-city of Buenaventura on Colombia's Pacific coast. It begins by identifying the intersecting economic, ecological, and political forces contributing to the precarity of life in Buenaventura's intertidal zone. Focusing on conflicts over land in the waterfront settlements of Bajamar (meaning “low-tide”), it then describes the efforts of Afro-Colombian settlers and activists to defend their territories against threats of violence and displacement. The struggles of Afro-Colombians to contest violent dispossession in Buenaventura reflect the racialized politics of precarity under late liberalism.

Government & Political Economy

Innovation and Patchwork Partnerships: Advice Services in Austere Times (2017)

Authors: Alice Forbess, Deborah James

Keywords: Advice services, austerity, innovation, United Kingdom

Summary: In the UK’s austerity regime, government spending has been slashed, while audit regimes tie up officers of charitable organisations in bureaucracy rather than leaving them free to attend to the substance of their jobs. These funding-cuts-masquerading-as-market-based-restructuring have drastically affected the provision of advice to welfare dependents. But advisers, and the organisations they work for, do not give up without a struggle. They piece together new patchworks of funds, devise new forms of face-to-face advice, and rework the boundaries of the law. Local authority funds are invested to yield returns from centrally-funded sources. People are helped to honour their tax commitments while challenging debts incurred from the incorrect award and reclaim of benefits, and to pay their council tax and rent. For advisers, austerity is more a matter of seeking new resource flows, inventing novel interventions, and creating new spaces where justice may be sought and found, than of passively accepting funding cuts.

Going Where the Money Is: Strategies for Taxing Economic Elites in Unequal Democracies (2013)

Author: Tasha Fairfield

Keywords: comparative politics, Latin America, economic elites, inequality, tax reform, politics of policymaking

Summary: How can policymakers circumvent obstacles to taxing economic elites? This question is critical for developing countries, especially in Latin America where strengthening tax capacity depends significantly on tapping under-taxed, highly-concentrated income and profits. Drawing on diverse literatures and extensive fieldwork, the paper identifies six strategies that facilitate enactment of modest tax increases by mobilizing popular support and/or tempering elite antagonism. Case studies from Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia illustrate the effect of these strategies on the fate of tax reform initiatives. The analysis builds theory on tax politics and yields implications for research on reform coalitions and gradual institutional change.

Structural power in comparative political economy: perspectives from policy formulation in Latin America (2015)

Author: Tasha Fairfield

Summary: Structural power is a critical variable that merits more extensive and more explicit attention in Latin American political economy and in comparative politics more broadly. Assessing structural power in conjunction with its counterpart, instrumental power, can provide strong leverage for explaining variation in policy outcomes that affect business interests. However, structural power must be carefully defined and operationalized in order to capture its core attributes and nuances. This task requires wedding the concept’s “structural” underpinnings with policymakers’ perceptions and anticipated reactions. Moreover, the relationship between structural power and instrumental power must be carefully theorized. While these concepts encompass distinct channels through which business exerts influence, the two types of power may be mutually reinforcing. I argue that business interests shape policy outcomes when either their structural power or their instrumental power is strong, yet business influence will be more extensive and more consistent when structural power and instrumental power are both strong. However, electoral incentives, and more importantly, popular mobilization, can counteract business power. I illustrate these theoretical points with a case study of Chile’s 2014 tax reform proposal, a major policy initiative with important distributive consequences that received international press attention.

Equality and Efficiency in Advanced Democracies: Revisiting the Leaky Bucket Hypothesis (2012)

Authors: Mark Blyth, Jonathan Hopkin, and Seth Werfel

Keywords: income inequality, market efficiency, OECD, regulation 

Summary: This paper revisits the hypothesis that society must trade-off income equality for market efficiency. Previous cross-sectional analysis suggests that equality and efficiency may be positively correlated at higher levels of regulation. This paper confirms this curvilinear relationship for a panel of OECD countries from 1980 to 2010. 

Social identity and redistributive preferences: a survey (2015)

Authors: Joan Costa-i-Font and Frank Cowell

Keywords: social identity, preferences for redistribution, inequality, diversity, redistributive institutions

Summary: Social identity is important in explaining attitudes towards redistribution and pro-social behaviour. This paper examines how economic theory measures social identity and its effects on preferences towards redistribution, social solidarity and redistributive institutions. Empirical evidence indicates that social identity carries weight in explaining the presence of social preferences and attitudes towards redistributive institutions.

Organized Combat or Triumph of Ideas?: The Politics of Inequality and Winner-Take-All Economy in the UK (2015)

Authors: Jonathan Hopkin and Kate Alexander Shaw

Keywords: United Kingdom, inequality, politics, winner-take-all, political economy  

Summary: This article draws on the winner-take-all account of American politics (Hacker and Pierson) to examine the politics of rising inequality and top income growth in the UK, which has seen dramatic growth in income inequality. This article asserts that neither economic forces such as globalization and skill-biased technological change, nor domestic political factors such as median voter preferences, can plausibly explain why the UK has seen a greater increase in inequality than other European countries. 

The Politics Of Piketty: What Political Science Can Learn From, and Contribute to, the Debate on Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014)

Author: Jonathan Hopkin

Keywords: Piketty, capital, politics, political science, inequality 

Summary: This paper argues that Piketty's (2014) criticism of the economics discipline for 'foolish disciplinary squabbles' could easily have been directed at political scientists, for no recent contribution by political scientists has made such a major impact on the understanding of the nature of contemporary capitalism and the inequalities that characterize it. 

Information, inequality, and mass polarization: ideology in advanced democracies (2015)

Authors: Torben Iversen and David Soskice

Keywords: polarization, American Congress, income inequality, electorate, United States, comparative political economy 

Summary: Growing polarization in the American Congress is closely related to rising income inequality. Yet there has been no corresponding polarization of the U.S. electorate, and across advanced democracies, mass polarization is negatively related to income inequality. To explain this puzzle, this paper proposes a comparative political economy model of mass polarization in which the same institutional facts that generate income inequality also undermine political information. 

Democratic limits to redistribution: inclusionary versus exclusionary coalitions in the knowledge economy (2015)

Authors: Torben Iversen and David Soskice 

Keywords: economic shocks, government response, political economy, electoral systems, coalitions, knowledge economy 

Summary: This article argues that the divergent government responses to economic shocks reflect differences in underlying electoral coalitions, and that these in turn mirror the structure of party and electoral systems, using evidence for government responses to economic shocks in the period 1980 to 2010.


A better life for all? Democratization and electrification in post-apartheid South Africa  (2016)

Authors: Verena Kroth, Valentino Larcinesse and Joachim Wehner

Keywords: democracy, distributive politics, electricity, South Africa

Summary: Does democracy affect basic service delivery? If yes, who benefits, and which elements of democracy matter - enfranchisement, the liberalization of political organization, or both? In 1994, 19 million South Africans gained the right to vote. The previously banned African National Congress was elected promising “a better life for all”. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we exploit heterogeneity in the share of newly enfranchised voters across municipalities to evaluate how franchise extension affected household electrification. We find that the effect of democratization on basic services depends on the national government’s ability to influence distribution at the local level.

Health & Ageing

E‐learning and health inequality aversion: A questionnaire experiment (2018)

Authors: Richard Cookson, Shehzad Ali, Aki Tsuchiya, Miqdad Asaria

Summary: In principle, questionnaire data on public views about hypothetical trade‐offs between improving total health and reducing health inequality can provide useful normative health inequality aversion parameter benchmarks for policymakers faced with real trade‐offs of this kind. However, trade‐off questions can be hard to understand, and one standard type of question finds that a high proportion of respondents—sometimes a majority—appear to give exclusive priority to reducing health inequality. We developed and tested two e‐learning interventions designed to help respondents understand this question more completely. The interventions were a video animation, exposing respondents to rival points of view, and a spreadsheet‐based questionnaire that provided feedback on implied trade‐offs. We found large effects of both interventions in reducing the proportion of respondents giving exclusive priority to reducing health inequality, though the median responses still implied a high degree of health inequality aversion and—unlike the video—the spreadsheet‐based intervention introduced a substantial new minority of non‐egalitarian responses. E‐learning may introduce as well as avoid biases but merits further research and may be useful in other questionnaire studies involving trade‐offs between conflicting values.


Social patterning in grip strength and in its association with age: a cross sectional analysis using the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) (2018)

Authors: Caroline Carney, Michaela Benzeval

Summary: Grip strength in early adulthood and midlife is an important predictor of disability, morbidity and mortality in later life. Understanding social patterning in grip strength at different life stages could improve insight into inequalities in age-related decline and when in the life course interventions could prevent the emergence of inequalities. Methods Using United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) data on 19,292 people aged 16 to 99, fractional polynomial models were fitted to identify which function of age best described its association with grip strength. Linear regressions were used to establish whether socio-economic position (SEP), as measured by maternal education, highest educational qualification and income, was associated with grip strength. To test whether the association between age and grip strength was modified by SEP, interactions between SEP and the age terms were added. Differentiation was used to identify the age at which grip strength was highest for men and women and predicted levels of grip strength at peak were compared. Results SEP is significantly associated with grip strength on all SEP measures, except education for men. Grip strength is highest at a younger age, and less strong for all measures of disadvantage for women and most measures for men. Interaction terms were not statistically significant indicating that the association between age and grip strength was not modified by SEP. Grip strength peak was 29.3 kg at age 33 for women with disadvantaged childhood SEP compared with 30.2 kg at age 35 for women with advantaged childhood SEP. Conclusion The SEP differences in age and level of peak grip strength could be indicative of decline in muscle strength beginning earlier and from a lower base for disadvantaged groups. This could impact on the capacity for healthy ageing for those with disadvantaged SEP.

The implications of community responses to intimate partner violence in Rwanda (2018)

Authors: Jenevieve Mannell, Iran Seyed-Raeisy, Rochelle Burgess and Catherine Campbell

Summary: Intimate partner violence (IPV) has significant impacts on mental health. Community-focused interventions have shown promising results for addressing IPV in low-income countries, however, little is known about the implications of these interventions for women’s mental wellbeing. This paper analyses data from a community-focused policy intervention in Rwanda collected in 2013–14, including focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with community members (n = 59). Our findings point to three ways in which these community members responded to IPV: (1) reconciling couples experiencing violence, (2) engaging community support through raising cases of IPV during community discussions, (3) navigating resources for women experiencing IPV, including police, social services and legal support. These community responses support women experiencing violence by helping them access available resources and by engaging in community discussions. However, assistance is largely only offered to married women and responses tend to focus exclusively on physical rather than psychological or emotional forms of violence. Drawing on Campbell and Burgess’s (2012) framework for ‘community mental health competence’, we interrogate the potential implications of these responses for the mental wellbeing of women affected by violence. We conclude by drawing attention to the gendered nature of community responses to IPV and the potential impacts this may have for the mental health of women experiencing IPV.

Documenting and explaining the HIV decline in east Zimbabwe: the Manicaland general population cohort (2017)

Authors: Simon Gregson, Owen Mugurungi, Jeffrey Eaton, Albert Takaruza, Rebecca Rhead, Rufurwokuda Maswera, Junior Mutsvangwa, Justin Mayini, Morten Skovdal, Robin Schaefer, Timothy Hallett, Lorraine Sherr, Shungu Munyati, Peter Mason, Catherine Campbell, Geoffrey P Garnett, Constance Anesu Nyamukapa

Summary: The Manicaland cohort was established to provide robust scientific data on HIV prevalence and incidence, patterns of sexual risk behaviour and the demographic impact of HIV in a sub-Saharan African population subject to a generalised HIV epidemic. The aims were later broadened to include provision of data on the coverage and effectiveness of national HIV control programmes including antiretroviral therapy (ART). Participants General population open cohort located in 12 sites in Manicaland, east Zimbabwe, representing 4 major socioeconomic strata (small towns, agricultural estates, roadside settlements and subsistence farming areas). 9,109 of 11,453 (79.5%) eligible adults (men 17-54 years; women 15–44 years) were recruited in a phased household census between July 1998 and January 2000. Five rounds of follow-up of the prospective household census and the open cohort were conducted at 2-year or 3-year intervals between July 2001 and November 2013. Follow-up rates among surviving residents ranged between 77.0% (over 3 years) and 96.4% (2 years). Findings to date HIV prevalence was 25.1% at baseline and had a substantial demographic impact with 10-fold higher mortality in HIV-infected adults than in uninfected adults and a reduction in the growth rate in the worst affected areas (towns) from 2.9% to 1.0%pa. HIV infection rates have been highest in young adults with earlier commencement of sexual activity and in those with older sexual partners and larger numbers of lifetime partners. HIV prevalence has since fallen to 15.8% and HIV incidence has also declined from 2.1% (1998-2003) to 0.63% (2009-2013) largely due to reduced sexual risk behaviour. HIV-associated mortality fell substantially after 2009 with increased availability of ART. Future plans We plan to extend the cohort to measure the effects on the epidemic of current and future HIV prevention and treatment programmes. Proposals for access to these data and for collaboration are welcome.

Getting off on the wrong foot? How community groups in Zimbabwe position themselves for partnerships with external agencies in the HIV response (2017)

Authors: Morten Skovdal, Sitholubuhle Magutshwa-Zitha, Catherine Campbell, Constance Nyamukapa, and Simon Gregson

Summary: Partnerships are core to global public health responses. The HIV field embraces partnership working, with growing attention given to the benefits of involving community groups in the HIV response. However, little has been done to unpack the social psychological foundation of partnership working between well-resourced organisations and community groups, and how community representations of partnerships and power asymmetries shape the formation of partnerships for global health. We draw on a psychosocial theory of partnerships to examine community group members’ understanding of self and other as they position themselves for partnerships with non-governmental organisations. Methods: This mixed qualitative methods study was conducted in the Matobo district of Matabeleland South province in Zimbabwe. The study draws on the perspectives of 90 community group members (29 men and 61 women) who participated in a total of 19 individual in-depth interviews and 9 focus group discussions (n = 71). The participants represented an array of different community groups and different levels of experience of working with NGOs. Verbatim transcripts were imported into Atlas.Ti for thematic indexing and analysis. Results: Group members felt they played a central role in the HIV response. Accepting there is a limit to what they can do in isolation, they actively sought to position themselves as potential partners for NGOs. Partnerships with NGOs were said to enable community groups to respond more effectively as well as boost their motivation and morale. However, group members were also acutely aware of how they should act and perform if they were to qualify for a partnership. They spoke about how they had to adopt various strategies to become attractive partners and ‘supportable’ – including being active and obedient. Conclusions: Many community groups in Zimbabwe recognise their role in the HIV response and actively navigate representational systems of self and other to showcase themselves as capable actors. While this commitment is admirable, the dynamics that govern this process reflect knowledge encounters and power asymmetries that are conditioned by the aid architecture, undermining aspiring efforts for more equitable partnerships from the get-go.

Inequity in long-term care use and unmet need: Two sides of the same coin (2015)

Authors: Pilar García-Gómez, Cristina Hernández-Quevedo, Dolores Jiménez-Rubio, Juan Oliva-Morenod

Keywords: Disability, Equity in utilisation, Dependency, Long-term care, Unmet need

Summary: We investigate the determinants of several LTC services and unmet need using data from a representative sample of the non-institutionalised disabled population in Spain in 2008. We measure the level of horizontal inequity and compare results using self-reported versus a more objective indicator of unmet needs. Evidence suggests that after controlling for a wide set of need variables, there is not an equitable distribution of use and unmet need of LTC services in Spain; formal services are concentrated among the better-off, while intensive informal care is concentrated among the worst-off. The distribution of unmet needs for LTC services depends on the service considered and on whether we focus on subjective or objective measures. In 2008, only individuals with the highest dependency level had universal coverage. Our results show that inequities in most LTC services and unmet needs among this group either remain or even increase for formal services.

Income inequalities in unhealthy life styles in England and Spain (2014)

Authors: Joan Costa-Font, Cristina Hernández-Quevedo, Dolores Jiménez Rubio

Summary: Health inequalities in developed societies are persistent. Arguably, the rising inequalities in unhealthy lifestyles might underpin these inequality patterns, yet supportive empirical evidence is scarce. We examine the patterns of inequality in unhealthy lifestyles in England and Spain, two countries that exhibit rising obesity levels with a high prevalence of smoking and alcohol use. This study is unique in that it draws from health survey data spanning over a period in which major contextual and policy changes have taken place. We document persistent income-related inequalities in obesity and smoking; both unhealthy lifestyles appear to be disproportionately concentrated among the relatively poor in recent decades. In contrast, alcohol use appears to be concentrated among richer individuals in both periods and countries examined.

Conceptualizing and comparing equity across nations (2013)

Authors: Cristina Hernández-Quevedo, Irene Papanicolas 

Summary: International comparison of health system performance has become increasingly popular, made possible by the rapidly expanding availability of health data. It has become one of the most important levers for prompting health system reform. Yet, as the demand for transparency and accountability in healthcare increases, so too does the need to compare data from different health systems both accurately and meaningfully. This timely and authoritative book offers an important summary of the current developments in health system performance comparison. It summarises the current state of efforts to compare systems, and identifies and explores the practical and conceptual challenges that occur. It discusses data and methodological challenges, as well as broader issues such as the interface between evidence and practice. The book draws out the priorities for future work on performance comparison, in the development of data sources and measurement instruments, analytic methodology, and assessment of evidence on performance. It concludes by presenting the key lessons and future priorities, and in doing so offers a rich source of material for policy-makers, their analytic advisors, international agencies, academics and students of health systems.

Measuring income-related inequalities in health in multi-country analysis (2013)

Authors: Cristina Hernández-Quevedo, Cristina Masseria 

Keywords: Concentration Index, Inequalities In Health, Self-Assessed Health, Health Limitations, Europe

Summary: Health inequalities remain a cause of concern for policymakers across the world. However, the measurement and monitoring of health inequalities over time and across countries remain a research challenge. The concentration index is one of the most popular measurement tools, however, it presents several drawbacks, especially for bounded variables, which are discussed in this study. Results from the European Community Household Panel dataset and the Statistics of Income and Living Conditions for Europe suggest that there is evidence of persistent socioeconomic inequalities in health in Europe. Further, results show the need of reporting both absolute and relative inequalities for appropriately monitoring and comparing trends in health inequalities across countries.

Do income gradients in unhealthy behaviours explain patterns of health inequalities? (2012)

Authors: Joan Costa-i-Font, Cristina Hernández-Quevedo, Dolores Jiménez-Rubio

Summary: More needs to be known about the origins of health inequalities and their measurement. This paper contributes by examining how the existence of income-related inequalities in unhealthy behaviours and more specifically, obesity (as a proxy for excessive food intake), alcohol intake and smoking might explain the persistence of health inequalities. We empirically examine data from two countries, England and Spain, which exhibit rising obesity levels, as well as smoking and alcohol use, drawing from unique health survey data. Furthermore, we carry out a sensitivity analysis of the influence of different robustness checks, including primarily, the definition of variables across national surveys, reporting bias associated with self-reported measures of lifestyle and the measurement of income related inequalities in lifestyle factors across countries. The results document the persistence of income inequalities in obesity and tobacco use, which disproportionately concentrate among the relatively poor. However, we find that inequalities in alcohol consumption over time tend to concentrate among relatively richer individuals in both countries examined.


Inequalities in the use of health services between immigrants and the native population in Spain: what is driving the differences? (2011)

Authors: Dolores Jiménez-Rubio, Cristina Hernández-Quevedo

Summary: In Spain, a growing body of literature has drawn attention to analysing the differences in health and health resource utilisation of immigrants relative to the autochthonous population. The results of these studies generally find substantial variations in health-related patterns between both population groups. In this study, we use the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition technique to explore to what extent disparities in the probability of using medical care use can be attributed to differences in the determinants of use due to, e.g. a different demographic structure of the immigrant collective, rather than to a different effect of health care use determinants by nationality, holding all other factors equal. Our findings show that unexplained factors associated to immigrant status determine to a great extent disparities in the probability of using hospital, specialist and emergency services of immigrants relative to Spaniards, while individual characteristics, in particular self-reported health and chronic conditions, are much more important in explaining the differences in the probability of using general practitioner services between immigrants and Spaniards.

Income & Wealth

Private Wealth and Public Revenue in Latin America (2017)

Author: Tasha Fairfield

Summary: Inequality and taxation are fundamental problems of modern times. How and when can democracies tax economic elites? This book develops a theoretical framework that refines and integrates the classic concepts of business’s instrumental (political) power and structural (investment) power to explain the scope and fate of tax initiatives targeting economic elites in Latin America after economic liberalization. In Chile, business’s multiple sources of instrumental power, including cohesion and ties to right parties, kept substantial tax increases off the agenda. In Argentina, weaker business power facilitated significant reform, although specific sectors, including finance and agriculture, occasionally had instrumental and/or structural power to defend their interests. In Bolivia, popular mobilization counterbalanced the power of economic elites, who were much stronger than in Argentina but weaker than in Chile. The book’s in-depth, medium-N case analysis and close attention to policymaking processes contribute insights on business power and prospects for redistribution in unequal democracies.

Top Income Shares, Business Profits, and Effective Tax Rates in Contemporary Chile (2015)

Authors: Tasha Fairfield, Michel Jorratt De Luis

Keywords: inequality, Latin America, D31, taxation, top incomes, unrealized captial income

Summary: We contribute to research on inequality and world top incomes by presenting the first calculations of Chilean top income shares and effective tax rates using individual tax return microdata from 2005 and 2009. We pay special attention to business income, which dominates at the top. Our analysis includes not only distributed profits, but also the large proportion of accrued profits retained by firms, which are rarely analyzed given the difficulty of identifying individual owners. Our most conservative top 1 percent income‐share estimate is 15 percent—the fifth highest in the top incomes literature. When distributed profits are adjusted for evasion, the top 1 percent share reaches 22–26 percent. When we broaden the income concept to include accrued profits, which we impute to taxpayers using ownership shares calculated from business tax forms, the top 1 percent share increases to a minimum of 23 percent. Despite this impressive income concentration, the top 1 percent pays modest average effective income‐tax rates of 15–16 percent.

Monitoring the evolution of income poverty and real incomes over time (2015)

Authors: A.B. Atkinson, Anne-Catherine Guio, and Eric Marlier

Keywords: poverty, national accounts, social indicators, inequality

Summary: This paper brings together two approaches to the monitoring of household living standards: the macro-economic analysis of aggregates and the social indicators based on household microdata. It then makes a number of recommendations about possible improvements in the underlying data and in the construction of the social indicators.

Handbook of Income Distribution SET vols. 2A-2B (2015)

Authors: Anthony B. Atkinson and Francois Bourguignon 

Keywords: income distribution, historical inequality, globalization, macro-economics, policy 

Summary: This book assembles the expertise of leading authorities on subjects such as education, health, experimental economics, historical income inequality, and globalization. Some chapters discuss future growth areas, such as inheritance, the links between inequality and macro-economics and finance, and the distributional implications of climate change. 

After Piketty? (2014)

Author: Anthony B. Atkinson 

Keywords: inequality, poverty, wealth, employment, technical change, taxation 

Summary: In this paper, the author takes Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty as the starting point for a set of twelve policy proposals that could bring about the genuine shift in the distribution of income towards less inequality. In designing the proposals, the author draws on the experience of reducing inequality in postwar Europe and on an analysis as to how the economic circumstances are now different in the twenty-first century, highlighting the role of technical change and the rise in capital emphasized by Piketty. 

Can we reduce income inequality in OECD countries? (2015)

Author: Anthony B. Atkinson

Keywords: inequality, wages, redistribution, OECD 

Summary: The aim of this paper is to inject a more optimistic note into the public debate about inequality which has generated a sense of doom, gloom, and inevitability. The paper argues that there have been periods in the past when income inequality was reduced and society can learn from these. The paper ends by outlining for “old” measures to reduce inequality, based on lessons from post-war decades in Europe, and four “new” measures suggested by the analysis of today’s economics of inequality. 

Top incomes in colonial Seychelles (2015)

Author: Anthony B. Atkinson

Keywords: Seychelles, income distribution, inequality, Gini, colonialism, Great Britain

Summary: In 2013, the Seychelles were recorded as having the highest Gini coefficient for income inequality of any country in the world, having been independent for thirty seven years. This paper delves back into its colonial past to see how unequal was the distribution of income under British governance. 

Income distribution and taxation in Mauritius: A seventy-five year history of top incomes (2015)

Author: Anthony B. Atkinson 

Keywords: Mauritius, income distribution, taxation, 

Summary: The purpose of this paper is to provide new evidence of the historical distribution of income in Mauritius, one that has been somewhat neglected due to historical information being very limited. 

Top Incomes in South Africa over a century (2013)

Authors: Facundo Alvaredo and Anthony B. Atkinson

Keywords: South Africa, income inequality, poverty, long-run trends, race  

Summary: This paper, the authors provide evidence that is partial—being confined to to top incomes—but which for the first time shows how the income distribution changed on a (near) annual basis from 1913 onwards in South Africa. The paper presents estimates of the shares in total income of groups such as the top 1 percent and the top 0.1 percent, covering the period from colonial times to the 21st century.

The colonial legacy: Income inequality in former British African colonies (2014)

Author: Anthony B. Atkinson

Keywords: Great Britain, Africa, African colonies, colonialism, income distribution

Summary: This paper is concerned with the distribution of incomes in former British colonies in Africa. While narrow in focus, it illuminates a broader set of issues of both historical and contemporary interest.

More than a minimum: The Resolution Foundation Review of the Future of the National Minimum Wage: The Final Report  (2014)

Authors: Sir George Bain, Paul Gregg, Alan Manning, Abigail McKnight, Karen Mumford, John Philpott, James Plunkett, Nicola Smith and Tony Wilson

Keywords: minimum wage, United Kingdom, living wage, income, Resolution Foundation

Summary: The final report of the Resolution Foundation’s review of the future of the National Minimum Wage. The review has worked for the past nine months under the chairmanship of Professor Sir George Bain, the founding chair of the Low Pay Commission, exploring whether the minimum wage and its supporting architecture could do more to tackle Britain’s pervasive problem of low pay.

Recent Trends in Top Income Shares in the USA: Reconciling Estimates From March CPS and IRS Tax Return Data (2009)

Authors: Richard V. Burkhauser, Shuaizhang Feng, Stephen P. Jenkins and Jeff Larrimore

Keywords: top income shares, trends, USA, Piketty, Saez

Summary: This paper shows that apparently inconsistent estimates of March Current Population Survey (CPS) and IRS Rax Return Data reports substantially higher levels of inequality and faster growing trends. Using internal CPS data for 1967-2006, this paper closely matches the IRS data-based estimates of top income shares reported by Piketty and Saez (2003), with the exception of the share of the top 1 percent of the distribution during 1993-2000.

Piketty in the long run (2015)

Author: Frank A. Cowell

Keywords: long run, income distribution, wealth distribution, inequality, Piketty, inheritance, equilibrium 

Summary: This paper examines the idea of 'the long run' in Piketty (2014), which draws on a rich economic analysis that models the intra- and inter- generational processes that underlie the development of wealth distribution.

The Relative Role of Socio-Economic Factors in Explaining the Changing Distribution of Wealth in the US and the UK  (2013)

Authors: Frank Cowell, Eleni Karagiannaki and Abigail McKnight

Keywords: household wealth, wealth inequality, debt, housing assets, age-wealth profiles, decomposition

Summary: The US and the UK experienced substantial increases in net wealth over the period 1994/95—2005/06, largely driven by house price booms in each country. The distribution of these gains across households led to a slight increase in wealth inequality in the US but a substantial fall in inequality in the UK. This paper uses a decomposition technique to examine the extent to which changes in households’ socio-economic characteristics explain changes in wealth holdings and wealth inequality. In both countries it finds that changes in household characteristics had an equalising effect on wealth inequality; moderating the increase in the US and accounting for over one-third of the fall in UK inequality.

Accounting for cross country differences in wealth inequality  (2013)

Authors: Frank Cowell, Eleni Karagiannaki and Abigail McKnight

Keywords: household wealth, wealth inequality, debt, housing assets, educational loans, age-wealth profiles, decomposition

Summary: This paper adopts a counterfactual decomposition analysis to analyse cross-country differences in the size of household wealth and levels of household wealth inequality. The findings of the paper suggest that the biggest share of cross-country differences is not due to differences in the distribution of household demographic and economic characteristics but rather reflect strong unobserved country effects.

The income distribution in the UK: A picture of advantage and disadvantage (2015)

Author: Stephen P. Jenkins

Keywords: poverty, affluence, income distribution, united kingdom, inequality

Summary: This paper describes the UK income distribution and how it has evolved over the most recent 50 year period, with comparisons to other wealthy countries.

The Great Recession and the Distribution of Household Income (2012)

Authors: Stephen P. Jenkins, Andrea Brandolini, John Micklewright and Brian Nolan

Keywords: Great Recession, household income, distribution, cross-national

Summary: This book is a comprehensive analysis of the impact of the Great Recession on household incomes and how the major economic downturn has affected how well-off people are and is the first cross-national comparative perspective.

Changing Fortunes: Income Mobility and Poverty Dynamics in Britain (2011)

Author: Stephen P. Jenkins

Keywords: income mobility, poverty, Britain, household

Summary: This book examines jobs, earnings, benefits and credits, and household changes such as marriage, divorce and childbirth over two decades, in an attempt to examine trends and patterns of British income mobility and poverty dynamics.

Earnings and labour market volatility in Britain (2014)

Authors: Lorenzo Cappellari and Stephen P. Jenkins

Keywords: labour market, volatility, Britain, earnings

Summary: This paper provides new evidence about earnings and labour market volatility in Britain over the period 1992-2008, and for women as well as men. The paper shows that earnings volatility declined slightly for both men and women over the period but the changes are not statistically significant. There is a marked and statistically significant decline for both men and women when examining labour market volatility.

Pareto models, top incomes, and recent trends in UK income inequality (2016)

Author: Stephen P. Jenkins

Keywords: inequality, top incomes, Pareto distribution, generalized Pareto distribution, survey under-coverage, HBAI, SPI

Summary: This paper determines UK income inequality levels and trends by combining inequality estimates from tax return data (for the 'rich') and household survey data (for the 'non-rich'), taking advantage of the better coverage of top incomes in tax return data and creating income variables in the survey data with the same definitions as in the tax data to enhance comparability. 

Top incomes and inequality in the UK: reconciling estimates from household survey and tax return data (2017)

Authors: Richard V. Burkhauser, Nicolas Herault, Stephen P. Jenkins, Roger Wilkins

Keywords: UK inequality, top incomes, household survey data, tax return data

Summary: This paper provides the first systematic comparison of UK inequality estimates derived from tax data (World Wealth Income Database) and household survey data (the Households Bewlo Average Income [HBAI] subfile of the Family Resources Survey). It documents by how much existing survey data underestimate top income shares relative to tax data.

Survey under-coverage of top incomes and estimation of inequality: what is the role of the UK's SPI adjustment? (2017)

Authors: Richard V. Burkhauser, Nicolas Herault, Stephen P. Jenkins, Roger Wilkins

Keywords: statistical analysis, income dynamics, taxation and surveys

Summary: Survey under-coverage of top incomes leads to bias in survey-based estimates of overall income inequality. Using income tax record data in combination with survey data is a potential approach to address the problem; this paper considers here the UK's pioneering 'SPI adjustment' method that implements this idea, and assesses whether it is fit for purpose and whether variants of it could be employed by other countries. 

World Income Inequality Databases: an assessment of WIID and SWIID (2015)

Author: Stephen P. Jenkins

Keywords: global inequality, inequality, gini imputation, WIID, SWIID

Summary: This article assesses two secondary data comparisons about income inequality - the World Income Inequality Database (WIIDv2c), and the Standardized World Income Inequality Database (SWIIDv4.0) which is based on WIID but with all observations multiply-imputed. It provides a detailed description of the nature and contents of both sources plus illustrative regression analysis. From a data issues perspective, WIID is recommended over SWIID, though the author's support for use of WIID is conditional.

The changing distribution of individual incomes in the UK before and after the recession (2015)

Author: Eleni Karagiannaki and Lucinda Platt

Keywords: income, Great Recession, income distribution, United Kingdom 

Summary: Using pooled data from the Family Resources Survey, this paper addresses the question of which groups gained and which lost in terms of their individual income between 2005-2008 and 2009-20012.

Explained and unexplained wage gaps across the main ethno-religious groups in Great Britain (2012)

Authors: Simonetta Longhi, Cheti Nicoletti and Lucinda Platt

Keywords: wage gaps, ethno-religious groups, Great Britain, generational

Summary: This paper analyses the difference in average wages of selected ethno-religious groups in Great Britain at the mean and over the wage distribution with the aim of explaining why such wage gaps differ across minority groups. The paper finds that within all minority ethno-religious groups the second generation achieves higher wages than the first generation, but the amount that is explained by characteristics does not necessarily increase with generation.

Interpreting wage gaps of disabled men: the roles of productivity and discrimination (2010)

Authors: Simonetta Longhi, Cheti Nicoletti and Lucinda Platt

Keywords: disability, wage gaps, earnings, discrimination

Summary: Using the UK Labour Force Survey, this paper studies the wage gaps for disabled men after the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act. It estimates wage gaps at the mean and at different quantiles of the wage distribution, and decomposes them into the part explained by differences in workers’ and job characteristics, the part that can be ascribed to health-related reduced productivity, and a residual part which the paper can more confidently interpret as discrimination.

Disabled People's Financial Histories: Uncovering the disability wealth-penalty(2014)

Author: Abigail McKnight

Keywords: wealth, disability, inequality, lifecycle  

Summary: This paper uses data from two large scale social surveys to examine the relationship between disability status and household wealth holdings. It finds that overall disabled people have substantially lower household wealth and all components of wealth than non-disabled people.


The Wealth Effect: How Parental Wealth and own Asset-Holdings Predict Future Advantage  in Wealth in the UK: Distribution, Accumulation, and Policy  (2013)

Authors: Abigail McKnight and Eleni Karagiannaki 

Keywords: intergenerational mobility, asset effects, parental wealth, education, employment, earnings, health outcomes 

Summary: This chapter explores the relationship between social mobility and wealth-/asset-holdings. In terms of social mobility, it looks at both intra-generational mobility by looking at own-asset-holdings during early adulthood on later outcomes for employment, earnings, general health, and psychological well-being, and intergenerational mobility by looking at the impact of parental wealth on children’s adult outcomes (age 25) covering education, employment, and earnings. The results suggest strong relationships between parental wealth—particularly housing wealth—and children’s educational outcomes, and—partly through these but also through other routes—on to earnings and employment. Early asset-holding—perhaps the product of the inheritance or lifetime transfer patterns investigated in the previous chapter—is also associated with better later employment prospects and higher earnings, as well as with better later general health and psychological well-being (although patterns vary between men and women).

Capital in the Twenty-First Century  (2014)

Author: Thomas Piketty, Centennial Professor, LSE

Keywords: wealth, income, inequality, Piketty, capital, accumulation, distribution 

Summary: This book analyzes a unique collection of economic data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns of inequality and the concentration of wealth and income.

Selection into Trade and Wage Inequality (2014)

Author: Thomas Sampson 

Keywords: trade, industry, wage distribution 

Summary: This paper analyzes how intra-industry trade affects the wage distribution when both workers and firms are heterogenous. Consequently, trade increases skill demand and wage inequality in all countries. 

Capital in the twenty-first century: a critique (2014)

Author: David Soskice

Keywords: Piketty, capital, r>g, wealth, income, inequality 

Summary: This paper sets out and explains Piketty's model of the dynamics of capitalism based on two equations and the r>g inequality and then takes issue with his analysis of the rebuilding of inequality from the 1970s to the present on three separate grounds. 

Firming Up Inequality (2015)

Author: Jae Song, David J. Price, Faith Guvenen, and Nicholas Bloom

Keywords: productivity, firms, incomes, wages, inequality

Summary: This paper discusses how much of the rise in earnings inequality can be attributed to rising dispersion between firms in the average wages they pay, and how much is due to rising wage dispersions among workers within the firm. 


Becoming more connected to the financial human capital network may hold the key to improving wage inequality within the US finance industry (2015)

Author: Kuo Siong 'Gordon' Tan

Keywords: United States, financial industry, human capital, wage inequality

Summary: In new research that tracks the movement of over 20,000 skilled financial workers across 264 US cities between 2007 and 2011, the author constructs a financial human capital network. The post finds that the network contains 40 financial hubs, which are linked to higher wages and wage inequality may be more pronounced between cities that are highly networked and those that are not. 


Inequality: Are we really 'all in this together'? (2015)

Author: Gabriel Zucman

Keywords: United Kingdom, benefits, government policy, wealth

Summary: This paper examines how the United Kingdom stands in terms of the levels and changes in inequality of pre-tax and benefit income, net incomes and wealth. It also explores the role of the coalition government's policies in influencing these outcomes.


"Prison ethnography at the threshold of race, reflexivity and difference" In: The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Ethnography  (2015)

Authors: Rod Earle and Coretta Phillips

Keywords: prison, ethnography, men's prison, England, race, reflexivity 

Summary: This chapter considers the racialised dynamics of ethnographic research in two men's prisons in South East England. The research processes revealed insights into the vertical (prison officer-prisoner) and horizontal (prisoner-prisoner) race and social relations in the prison field.

Crime, punishment and segregation in the United States: the paradox of local democracy (2015)

Authors: Nicola Lacey and David Soskice

Keywords: crime, punishment, law, segregation, United States, poverty, education, inequality

Summary: This paper examines the differences in crime and punishment of the United States and other  liberal market economies as products of dynamics shaped by the institutional structures of the U.S. political system, including residential zoning, public education, and incorporation of suburbs. 

The 2011 English riots in recent historical perspective (2015)

Author: Tim Newburn

Keywords: England, riots, historical perspective, civil disorder, comparative analysis, disorder

Summary: This paper offers that the riots of 2011 arguably represent the most significant civil disorder on mainland Britain in at least a generation. Commentators writing in the aftermath of the riots of have pointed both to what are taken to be unusual aspects of the 2011 disorders—the role of gangs, the nature and extent of looting, and the use of social media among others—as well as some of the parallels with previous riots. In placing the 2011 riots in their recent historical context this article outlines a model for structuring comparative analysis of disorder and then moves to consider some of the similarities between 2011 and riots in the post-wart period.

Reflections on why riots don't happen  (2015)

Author: Tim Newburn

Keywords: riots, England, disorder, interviews, informants

Summary: In contrast to much of the literature in the field of public disorder, rather than focusing on the nature and aetiology or riots, this paper investigates why riots don't happen. Against the backdrop of the 2011 England riots—though the arguments developed here have international application—this paper uses two case studies involving semi-structured interviews with key informants in two such locations to reflect on why riots don't happen.

Shopping for free?: looting, consumerism and the 2011 England riots (2015)

Authors: Tim Newburn, Kerris Cooper, Rachel Deacon, Beka Diski

Keywords: England, riots, disorder, looting, consumerism 

Summary: A number of commentators have suggested that the 2011 riots in England were distinctive because of the character and extent of the looting that took place. In doing so they have argued that the nature of modern consumer capitalism should be placed front and centre of any explanation of the disorder. Whilst concurring with elements of such arguments, this paper departs from such analyses in three ways: 1) it is important not to overstate the extent to which the 2011 riots were a departure from previous outbreaks of civil disorder; 2) focusing on looting risks ignoring both the political character and the violence involved in the riots; and 3) the focus on consumption potentially simplifies the nature of the looting itself by underestimating its political and expressive characteristics. 

Despite signs of less punitive policing and incarceration policies, 2014 will be remembered for Michael Brown and Eric Garner (2014)

Author: Tim Newburn

Keywords: policing, incarceration, punishment, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, United States

Summary: The year 2014 saw the trend away from mass incarceration continue and signs of what might be the emergence of an end to the "War on Drugs". This paper claims that while there have been some encouraging signs of a less punitive and exclusionary means of dealing with crime, the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York by police, and the protests that followed, are likely to be the mot memorable events of 2014. 

Civil unrest in Ferguson was fuelled by the Black Community's already poor relationship with a highly militarized police force (2014)

Author: Tim Newburn

Keywords: civil unrest, United States, Ferguson, policing, Black Community, England, riots

Summary: This paper takes a close look at the unrest in Ferguson, writing that it has parallels with similar riots in London in August, 2011. Both were sparked by the oppressive policing of black neighborhoods, but the most distinctive feature of the unrest in Ferguson was the militarized nature and reaction of local police forces. 

Imprisonment and Political Equality (2015)

Author: Peter Ramsay

Keywords: imprisonment, political equality, democratic state, citizens, inequality, justice 

Summary: This paper outlines the logical relations between political equality and the practice of imprisonment by the state. It argues that the reason to imprison becomes less significant the more that formal political equality leads to substantive equality of political influence among citizens.

Why should it matter that others have more? Poverty, inequality, and the potential of international human rights law (2011)

Author: Margot E. Salomon

Keywords: human development, law, human rights, international, inequality

Summary: This article offers three justifications as to why global material inequality, not just poverty, should matter to international human rights law, particularly within the post-1945 international effort at people-centered development.


Seeking Shelter in Personal Insolvency Law: Recession, Eviction, and Bankruptcy's Social Safety Net (2017)

Author: Joseph Spooner

Keywords: bankruptcy, consumer bankruptcy, eviction, housing crisis, household over-indebtedness, household debt, personal insolvency, social safety net

Summary: Many legal systems understand consumer insolvency laws as a form of social insurance, providing relief to financially troubled households who fall through gaps in the social safety net. This paper considers the extent to which, in the face of an escalating housing crisis, legal principle and policy in England and Wales embrace this social insurance function of personal insolvency law. 

Media & Communications

Experimental insights into the socio-cognitive effects of viewing materialistic media messages on welfare support (2018)

Author: Rodolfo Leyva

Summary: This experimental study draws on cultivation, dispositional materialism, and schema theories to test the effects of commercial media viewing on material values and welfare support. Data were collected from a cross-sectional British sample using a web-survey priming methodology (N = 487, ages 18–49). Findings suggest that (a) materialism and anti-welfare orientations operate through associated and contiguous cognitive-affective mechanisms that can be triggered by momentary exposure to materialistic media messages (MMMs). (b) Heavy consumers of television shows that valorize and regularly portray wealth, fame, and luxury are significantly more materialistic and anti-welfare than lighter consumers. (b) Chronic attention to MMMs may indirectly increase support for the governmental enactment of punitive welfare policies via cultivating self-enhancement related schemas, which when instantiated, decrease dispositional orientations toward empathy, altruism, and communality. This research contributes nuanced theoretical and experimental insights into how ubiquitous commercial media potentially undermine prosocial development and societal well-being. 

Communicative ethnocide and Alevi television in the Turkish context (2018)

Author: Kumru Berfin Emre Cetin

Keywords: Alevis, communicative ethnocide, ethnic media, Kurds, transnational television, Turkey

Summary: The attempted coup in Turkey in July 2016 provided a justification for the Turkish government to silence oppositional voices in the media and close down many television stations. Though the stated aim was to clamp down on the pro-coup Gulenist movement, the closure of TV channels has resulted in what I call a ‘communicative ethnocide’ silencing Alevi television in particular. Following Yalcinkaya, who builds on Clastres concept of ethnocide, I define ‘communicative ethnocide’ as the annihilation of the communicative capacity of a particular community by the state with the aim of destroying that community’s cultural identity. Although the closure of TV stations was not confined to Alevi channels, it has particular implications for the Alevi community by destroying its communicative capacity, infrastructure, relations with the viewers, and representation regime which are driven by the community’s political ambitions and attempts to sustain transnational connections. Parallels are drawn between Alevi and Kurdish TV to illustrate the Turkish context.

Banal nationalism and queers online: enforcing and resisting cultural meanings of .tr (2015)

Author: Lukasz Szulc

Summary: Focusing on daily (re)productions of national identities online, in this article, I investigate a particular country-code Top-Level Domain, .tr for Turkey. I follow Billig’s concept of ‘banal nationalism’ to argue that .tr (re)produces online Turkish national imaginations. Furthermore, I inspect the hegemonic Turkish norms of sexuality to examine what kind of Turkishness .tr (re)produces. The analyses of the policies governing the allocation process of .tr and the email interviews with the authors of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* websites in Turkey show that .tr works to (re)produce, in a banal way, queer-free notion of Turkishness online. My analysis also demonstrates that some authors of the analysed websites do not dismiss .tr as banal but refuse to use it in resistance against the Turkish national requirements embedded in the domain. More broadly, I argue for the acknowledgement of cultural structures in internet governance studies.

Capital experimentation with person/a formation: how Facebook's monetization refigures the relationship between property, personhood and protest (2015)

Authors: Beverley Skeggs, Simon Yuill

Keywords: Facebook, software, personhood, protest, monetization, labour

Summary: This article examines the conditions of possibility for protest that are shaped when we open our browsers and are immediately tracked by Facebook. It points to the significance of tracking in the making of contemporary personhood showing how the relationship between property and personhood is being currently reconfigured as Facebook experiments with ways to accrue maximum profit. It outlines in detail the different ways by which Facebook operates financially, arguing that it is better understood as a powerful advertising oligopoly that lubricates the circulation of capital rather than just as a social network. By charting the movement from the liberal ‘possessive individual’, to the neo-liberal ‘subject of value' into the present disaggregated ‘dividual', it reveals inherent contradictions as Facebook builds its financializing and monetizing capacity. We show how the contemporary neo-liberal imperative to perform and authorize one's value in public is more likely to produce a curated persona rather than the ‘authentic’ self-demanded by Facebook, making accurate dividuation more difficult to achieve. We draw on our research project funded by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), UK, on the relationship between values and value, which uses custom-built software to track Facebook's tracking. Our research revealed how Facebook drew clear distinctions between high net worth users and the remainder, making the protesting bourgeois ‘subject of value’ much more likely to be subject to expropriation. We ask: what does it mean if the communicative networks for protest are just another opportunity for profit making and lubricating financialization?

The methodology of a multi-model project examining how facebook infrastructures social relations (2015)

Authors: Beverley Skeggs, Simon Yuill

Keywords: Political economy, facebook, rythmanalysis, big data, interactivity, research methodology

Summary: It is the purpose of this paper to make explicit the methodology (the theory of the methods) by which we conducted research for an Economic and Social Research Council-funded research project on the relationship of values to value. Specifically, we wanted to study the imperative of Facebook to monetize social relationships, what happens when one of our significant forms of communication is driven by the search for profit, by the logic of capital. We therefore wanted to ‘get inside’ and understand what capital's new lines of flight, informationally driven models of economic expansion, do to social relations. Taking up the challenge to develop methods appropriate to the challenges of ‘big data', we applied four different methods to investigate the interface that is Facebook: we designed custom software tools, generated an online survey, developed data visualizations, and conducted interviews with participants to discuss their understandings of our analysis. We used Lefebvre's [(2004). Rhythmnanalysis: Space, time and everyday life. London: Continuum] rhythmanalysis and Kember and Zylinska's [(2012). Life after new media: Mediation as a vital process. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press] ideas about ‘lifeness’ to inform our methodology. This paper reports on a research process that was not entirely straightforward. We were thwarted in a variety of ways, especially by challenge to use software to study software and had to develop our project in unanticipated directions, but we also found much more than we initially imagined possible. As so few academic researchers are able to study Facebook through its own tools (as Tufekci [(2014Tufekci, Z. (2014). Big questions for social media big data: Representativeness, validity and other methodological pitfalls. In ICWSM 14: Proceedings of the 8th International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, pp. 505–514. [Google Scholar]). Big questions for social media big data: Representativeness, validity and other methodological pitfalls. In ICWSM ‘14: Proceedings of the 8th International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (pp. 505–514)] notes how, unsurprisingly, at the 2013 ICWSM only about 5% of papers were about Facebook and nearly all of these were co-authored with Facebook data scientists), we hope that our methodology is useful for other researchers seeking to develop less conventional research on Facebook.

Digital Reach Insights Report (2018)

Author: Social Tech Trust

Slipping through the net report: Are disadvantaged young people being further left behind in the digital era? (2016)

Author: Ellen Johanna Helsper 

Summary: This unique report sets out to analyse the range of digital skills that young people from different backgrounds possess. Disadvantaged young people are likely to have lower quality access and lower levels of digital skills which impede their ability to take up education and employment opportunities. This is also likely to prevent them from avoiding risks that might lead to physical or emotional harm.This report aims to shed some light on the troubling inequalities in digital engagement which exist today between disadvantaged and advantaged young people.

A socio-digital ecology approach to understanding digital inequalities among young people (2017)

Author: Ellen Johanna Helsper 

Keywords: Digital divide, digital inclusion, digital equity,  digital inequality, socio-digital ecology, Information and Communication Technologies, ICT, NEETs, DiSTO project

Summary: Recent research in the UK and the Netherlands shows that inequalities in the achievement of beneficial outcomes of internet use cannot be fully explained by inequalities in skills or types of engagement with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) (Van Deursen, Helsper, Eynon, & Van Dijk, 2017). That individuals with similar socio-demographic backgrounds and similar skill levels engage in different ways with ICTs poses problems for the standard explanations of digital inequalities. This commentary argues that a socially contextual approach which considers everyday resources, needs, and perceptions rather than just demographic characteristics or skill levels is needed to explain digital inequalities among young people (Helsper, 2012; Helsper, Van Deursen, & Eynon, 2015).

The Compoundness and Sequentiality of Digital Inequality (2017)

Authors: Alexander van Deursen, Ellen Helsper, Rebecca Eynon, Jan van Dijk

Keywords: digital inequality, digital divide, social inequality, Internet skills, Internet use

Summary: Through a survey with a representative sample of Dutch Internet users, this article examines compound digital exclusion: whether a person who lacks a particular digital skill also lacks another kind of skill, whether a person who does not engage in a particular way online is also less likely to engage in other ways, and whether a person who does not achieve a certain outcome online is also less likely to achieve another type of outcome. We also tested sequential digital exclusion: whether a lower level of digital skills leads to lower levels of engagement with the Internet, resulting in a lower likelihood for an individual to achieve tangible outcomes. Both types of digital exclusion are a reality. Certain use can have a strong relation with an outcome in a different domain. Furthermore, those who achieve outcomes in one domain do not necessarily achieve outcomes in another domain. To get a comprehensive picture of the nature of digital exclusion, it is necessary to account for different domains in research.

The Social Relativity of Digital Exclusion: Applying Relative Deprivation Theory to Digital Inequalities (2016)

Author: Ellen Johanna Helsper

Keywords: Digital divide, Relative deprivation, Digital exclusion, Inequalities, Social comparison 

Summary: Digital inequalities research adopted the idea that exclusion is compound and multifaceted. Nevertheless, digital exclusion theory and empirical research often takes an individual, static approach; assuming that personal characteristics such as socioeconomic status consistently influence how individuals engage with information and communication technologies across different contexts. This article makes a theoretical contribution by looking at the value of relative deprivation theory (RDT) in understanding digital inequalities. RDT argues that evaluations of personal circumstances depend on social and temporal contexts and are, therefore, relative. Digital inequalities research could benefit from a shift toward this relative approach in both theorization and empirical research by incorporating explanations based on context and social group processes into existing individual and structural explanations of digital inequalities.

Do the rich get digitally richer? Quantity and quality of support for digital engagement (2016)

Authors: Ellen J. Helsper, Alexander J. A. M. van Deursen

Keywords: Digital divide, digital inclusion, Internet use, support networks, proxy use

Summary: This paper asks what predicts having access to and using social support networks that might help an individual in using the Internet. Following the course taken by the digital divide or digital inclusion research, this paper uses socio-cultural, socio-economic, social, and digital indicators to predict access to and the type of potential and actual social support networks that might help an individual in using the Internet. In addition, the paper examines the quality of the support received which is neglected in most investigations that mainly focus on quantitative indicators of support. The study draws on a representative survey conducted in the Netherlands; 1149 responses were obtained. The results show that while there are no real inequalities in access to and use of support, the quality of the support that people access is unequally distributed replicating existing patterns of disadvantage. Thus, access to support is another level at which the digital divide manifests and strengthens itself. Those who experience most problems online also seem to have the most difficulty obtaining high-quality support even when it is available, creating an even larger ‘gap’ between those who do and do not need support.


The emergence of a “digital underclass” in Great Britain and Sweden: Changing reasons for digital exclusion (2016)

Authors: Ellen J Helsper, Bianca C Reisdorf

Keywords: Digital divide, digital inclusion, Great Britain, Internet non-use, longitudinal research, motivation, social inequality, survey, Sweden

Summary: Research into reasons for Internet non-use has been mostly based on one-off cohort studies and focused on single-country contexts. This article shows that motivations for being offline changed between 2005 and 2013 among non- and ex-users in two high-diffusion European countries. Analyses of Swedish and British data demonstrate that non-user populations have become more concentrated in vulnerable groups. While traditional digital divide reasons related to a lack of access and skills remain important, motivational reasons increased in importance over time. The ways in which these reasons gain importance for non- and ex-user groups vary, as do explanations for digital exclusion in the different countries. Effective interventions aimed at tackling digital exclusion need to take into consideration national contexts, changing non-user characteristics, and individual experience with the Internet. What worked a decade ago in a particular country might not work currently in a different or even the same country.

Technical Annex for the ‘Heatmap of Exclusion in a Digital UK’ (2015)

Authors: E.J. Helsper, R.M. Kirsch

The geography of LGBTQ internet studies (2014)

Author: Lukasz Szulc

Summary: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Internet studies have grown exponentially during the last 10 or 15 years. Apart from original book-length contributions by single authors (Campbell, 2004; Enteen, 2010; Fox, 2012; Gray, 2009; Kuntsman, 2009; Mowlabocus, 2010), a number of special journal issues (Alexander, 2002; Comella & Sender, 2013; Fotopoulou & O’Riordan, 2014; Kuntsman & Al-Qasimi, 2012), and edited books (Berry, Martin, & Yue, 2003; O’Riordan & Phillips, 2007; Pullen & Cooper, 2010) have all contributed to the advancement of our knowledge of this diversifying field. In this short article, I offer a review of three edited books, recognizing their important collective contributions to LGBTQ Internet studies. The three volumes are surely not the very latest publications in the field and they have already been reviewed by a number of scholars (e.g., de Ridder, 2012; Erni, 2009; Hamming, 2008; Scott, 2008). However, in this review I would like to take one more look at the articles published in those books with a particular focus on what contexts they are anchored in and to what extent they acknowledge the importance of the contexts. In doing so, I aim to critically reflect on the geography of LGBTQ Internet studies.

Digital Inclusion in Europe: Evaluating Policy and Practice (2014) 

Author: Ellen Helsper 

Summary: This discussion paper reviews the Digital Inclusion policies in the European Union. The purpose is to give an independent assessment of the effectiveness of the Digital Inclusion policy and to discuss transferability across Member States and its possible contribution to European Policy development in other areas (e.g. Europe2020 and the Social Investment Package). Digital Inclusion is defined in this discussion paper as an individual’s effective and sustainable engagement with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in ways that allow full participation in society in terms of economic, social, cultural, civic and personal well-being. A digitally inclusive Europe is therefore a Europe in which all individuals, independent of their socio-cultural and socio-economic background, have equal opportunities to engage with ICT in such a way that a trend for increasing social inequality is halted if not reversed. 

A Corresponding Fields Model for the Links Between Social and Digital Exclusion (2012)

Author: Ellen Johanna Helsper

Summary: The notion of digital exclusion has become important in communications research but remains undertheorized. This article proposes a theoretical model that hypothesizes how specific areas of digital and social exclusion influence each other. In this corresponding fields model, it is argued that they relate mostly for similar (economic, cultural, social, personal) fields of resources. The model further proposes that the influence of offline exclusion fields on digital exclusion fields is mediated by access, skills, and attitudinal or motivational aspects. On the other hand, the relevance, quality, ownership, and sustainability of engagement with different digital resources is said to mediate the influence of engagement on offline exclusion. Research supporting this model and possible operationalizations in empirical research and interventions are presented.

The internet and sexual identity formation: comparing internet use before and after coming out (2013)

Authors: Lukasz Szulc, Alexander Dhoest

Summary: Even in its early years, the Internet was recognized as a medium with great potential for lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals (LGBs), especially for LGB youths struggling with their sexual identity. Yet, Internet research related to coming out tends to focus on particular cases or Internet use before and during coming out. Consequently, as such research emphasizes the opportunities and positive aspects of the Internet for LGBs, it may lead to an overestimation of the importance of sexual identity in terms of LGB Internet use. Therefore, in this paper we explore the LGB-specific Internet use of a broad crosssection of the LGB community both before or during and after coming out. Our quantitative online survey and in-depth interviews show that LGBs use the Internet for LGB-oriented purposes less after coming out than before or during it. The results suggest that sexual identity becomes a less salient topic in terms of everyday Internet use after coming out.

Adults learning online: Digital choice and/or digital exclusion? (2010)

Authors: Rebecca Eynon, Ellen Helsper

Keywords: adult learning, digital choice, digital exclusion, e-learning, informal learning, internet use, lifelong learning

Summary: Using a nationally representative British survey, this article explores the extent to which adults are using the internet for learning activities because they choose to (digital choice) or because of (involuntary) digital exclusion. Key findings suggest that reasons for (dis)engagement with the internet or the uptake of different kinds of online learning opportunities are somewhat varied for different groups, but that both digital choice and exclusion play a role. Thus, it is important for policy initiatives to better understand these groups and treat them differently. Furthermore, the more informal the learning activity, the more factors that play a significant role in explaining uptake. Policies designed to support individuals’ everyday interests, as opposed to more formal kinds of learning, are likely to be more effective in increasing people’s productive engagement with online learning opportunities.

Digital Divisions of Labor and Informational Magnetism: Mapping Participation in Wikipedia (2016)

Authors: Mark Graham, Ralph K. Straumann and Bernie Hogan

Keywords: digital divide, digital labor, information geography, participation, Wikipedia

Summary: This article shows that the relative democratization of the Internet has not brought about a concurrent democratization of voice and participation. Despite the fact that it is widely used around the world, Wikipedia is characterized by highly uneven geographies of participation.

Geographies of Information Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa (2016)

Authors: Mark Graham and Christopher Foster

Keywords: information inequality, Sub-Saharan Africa, ICTs

Summary: While much research has been conducted into the impacts of ICTs on older economic processes and practices, there remains surprisingly little research into the emergence of the new informationalized economy in Africa. This article addresses the issue of whether we are seeing a new era of development on the continent fulled by ICTs, or whether Sub-Saharan Africa's engagement with the global knowledge economy continues to be on terms that reinforce dependence, inequality, underdevelopment, and economic extraversion.

Augmented Realities and Uneven Geographies: Exploring the Geolinguistic Contours of the Web

Authors: Mark Graham and Matthew Zook

Keywords: augmented reality, neogeography, volunteered geographic information, place, Internet

Summary: This paper analyzes the digital dimensions of places as represented by online geocoded references to the economic, social, and political experiences of the city. These digital layers are invisible to the naked eye, but form a central component of the augmentations and mediations of place enabled by hundreds of millions of mobile computing devices and other digital technologies. The analysis highlights how these augmentations of place differ across space and language and highlights both the differences and some of the causal factors behind them.

Cyberbullying victimisation in context: The role of social inequalities in countries and regions (2016)

Authors: Anke Görzig, Tijana Milosevic and Elisabeth Staksrud

Keywords: cyber-bullying, cross-national comparison, bullying victimisation, culture, contextual analyses, multi-level analyses  

The phenomenon of cyberbullying is gaining more attention by media and policy makers in many countries. Theoretical frameworks using a socio-ecological approach emphasise the importance of contextual explanatory factors located at the societal level. It has been suggested that in addition to cross-national differences, the analysis of smaller units of more adjacent cultural contexts (i.e., regions) might yield more explanatory power. Leaning on previous findings and theory, the current paper aims to identify and compare contextual explanatory factors associated with social inequality for variation in cyber- and face-to-face bullying victimisation rates within one sample. Moreover, corresponding explanatory factors are investigated across national and regional levels.


New Forms of Digital Inequality: Disparities in offline benefits from internet use (from Media Policy Project Blog) (2015)

Author: Ellen Helsper

Keywords: media, communications, internet, digital, inequality, online, 

Summary: This article explains how increased online activity does not necessarily translate to tangible, beneficial outcomes (employment, participation, etc) for those with newfound access.


How parents of young children manage digital devices at home: the role of income, education and parental style (2015)

Authors: Sonia Livingstone, Giovanna Mascheroni, Michael Dreier, Stephane Chaudron, and Kaat Lagae

Keywords: media, digital devices, parenting, income, education, Europe  

Summary: The main focus of this report is on the role of parental education and household income, as factors to capture a major source of difference and inequality across households in relation to how they shape parental mediation of digital media. 


Inequality and digitally mediated communication: divides, contradictions and consequences (2017)

Author: Robin Mansell

Keywords: inequality; digital divide; mediation; technological innovation; algorithms; dialogue; employment

Summary: This paper examines some of the relationships between economic and social inequality and digitally mediated communication. Researchers generally agree that there is a reciprocal relationship between expressions of inequality and changes in the digitally mediated world, but there are large differences in their views about how these relationships work and whether inequality is likely to persist into the future. In the digital divide research tradition, there are instrumental and critical approaches and some of the limitations of the instrumental approach are highlighted. The implications of asymmetries of control and authority between human beings and their machines and the consequences for economic and social inequality are addressed with the aim of assessing the opportunities for evaluating them and for encouraging a shift in the contemporary direction of digital technology innovation.


Values beyond value? Is anything beyond the logic of capital? (2014)

Author: Bev Skeggs

Keywords: value, values, capital, personhood, caring, labour

Summary: We are living in a time when it is frequently assumed that the logic of capital has subsumed every single aspect of our lives, intervening in the organization of our intimate relations as well as the control of our time, including investments in the future (e.g. via debt). The theories that document the incursion of this logic (often through the terms of neoliberalism and/or governmentality) assume that this logic is internalized, works and organizes everything including our subjectivity. These theories performatively reproduce the very conditions they describe, shrinking the domain of values and making it subject to capital's logic. All values are reduced to value. Yet values and value are always dialogic, dependent and co‐constituting. In this paper I chart the history by which value eclipses values and how this shrinks our sociological imagination. By outlining the historical processes that institutionalized different organizations of the population through political economy and the social contract, producing ideas of proper personhood premised on propriety, I detail how forms of raced, gendered and classed personhood was formed. The gaps between the proper and improper generate significant contradictions that offer both opportunities to and limits on capitals' lines of flight. It is the lacks, the residues, and the excess that cannot be captured by capital's mechanisms of valuation that will be explored in order to think beyond the logic of capital and show how values will always haunt value.

Inequality, advantage and the capability approach (2017)

Authors: Tania Burchardt, Rod Hick 

Summary: Inequality has acquired a newfound prominence in academic and political debate. While scholars working with the capability approach (CA) have succeeded in influencing the conceptualisation and measurement of poverty, which is increasingly understood in multidimensional terms, recent scholarship on inequality focusses overwhelmingly on economic forms of inequality, and especially on inequalities in income and wealth. In this paper we outline how the conceptual framework of the CA (focusing on ends rather than means, multidimensionality, and recognising the value of freedoms as well as attained functionings) has the potential to enrich the study of distributional inequality through offering a rationale for why inequality matters, exploring the association between different forms of inequality, and providing an analysis of power. But applying the CA in the context of advantage exacerbates some existing challenges to the approach (defining a capability list, and the non-observability of capabilities) and brings some fresh ones (especially insensitivity at the top of the distribution). We recommend a stronger and clearer distinction between concepts and measures. Capability inequality is a more appropriate and potentially revealing conceptual apparatus, but economic resources are likely to remain a crucial metric for understanding distributional inequality for the forseeable future.

Evaluating risky prospects: the distribution view (2015)

Author: Luc Bovens

Keywords: distribution, risk, policy, philosophy 

Summary: Risky prospects represent polices that impose different types of risks on multiple people. This paper presents an example from food safety and develops a model that lets the policy analyst rank prospects relative to the distributional concerns that she considers fitting for the context at hand. 

Priority or Equality for Possible People? (2015) 

Authors Marc Fleurbaey and Alex Voorhoeve

Keywords: egalitarian, prioritarian, philosophy, distribution, utility, existence

Summary: Suppose that, under conditions of risk, one must make choices that will influence the well-being and the identities of the people who will exist, how ought one choose? This paper develops the most plausible prioritarian and egalitarian answers to this question. It also argues for the superiority of the egalitarian answer.

Equality versus priority (2015, book chapter) 

Authors: Michael Otsuka and Alex Voorhoeve 

Keywords: prioritarian, egalitarian, distributive justice, philosophy 

Summary: This book chapter discusses two leading theories of distributive justice: egalitarianism and prioritarianism. It argues that while each has particular merits and shortcomings, egalitarian views more fully satisfy a key requirement of distributive justice: respect for the unity of the individual and the separateness of persons.

Prioritarianism and the Measure of Utility (2015)

Author: Michael Otsuka

Keywords: prioritarian, utility, philosophy, well-being, morality 

Summary: This paper presents a challenge to proritarianism, particularly the view of Derek Parfit. The paper asserts that in discussions of prioritarianism, it is often left unspecified what constitutes a greater, lesser, or equal improvement in a person's utility. 

Making fair choices on the path to universal health coverage: final report of the WHO consultative group on equity and universal health coverage  (2014)

Autors: Ole Frithjof Norheim, Trygve Ottersen, Frehowot Berhane, Bonah Chitah, Richard Cookson, Norman Daniels, Nir Eyal, W. Flores, Axel Gosseries, Daniel Hausman, Samia Hurst, L. Kapiriri, Toby Ord, A. Reis, R. Sadana, Carla Saenz, Shlomi Segall, Gita Sen, Tessa Tan-Torres Edejer, Alex Voorhoeve, Dan Wikler, and Alicia Yamin

Keywords: world health organization, who, universal health coverage, equity

Summary: Since 2010, more than one hundred countries have requested policy support and technical advice for universal health coverage reform from the WHO. As part of the response, WHO set up a consultative group on equity and universal health coverage. This final report addresses the key issues of fairness and equity that arise on the path to UHC by clarifying these issues and by offering practical recommendations. 

Response to our critics (2015)

Author: Alex Voorhoeve, Trygve Ottersen, and Ole Frithjof Norheim 

Keywords: universal health coverage, equity, political economy, trade-offs

Summary: In response to Kalipso Chalkidou, Peter Littlejohns, Benedict Rumbold, Addis Tamire Woldermariam, Albert Weale, and James Wilson, this paper addresses issues raised and discusses equity and political economy, the significance of the starting point for Universal Health Coverage, trade-offs, and the need for more information on "what works." 

Introduction to the Symposium on Equality versus Priority (2015) 

Author: Alex Voorhoeve 

Keywords: egalitarian, prioritarian, World Health Organization, utility 

Summary: This paper is an introduction to a set of papers commissioned by the World Health Organization on the debate on the nature and importance of the distinction between egalitarianism and prioritarianism. 

Making fair choices on the path to universal health coverage: a précis (2015)

Authors: Alex Voorhoeve, Trygve Ottersen, and Ole Frithjof Norheim

Keywords: universal health coverage, equity, political economy, fairness

Summary: This paper aims to clarify issues of fairness that arise on the path to universal health coverage and offers recommendations for how countries can address them. It is premised on the fact that decision-makers face (sometimes severe) resource constrains. 

Book review: Matthew D. Adler: Wellbeing and fair distribution: beyond cost-benefit analysis (2014)

Author: Alex Voorhoeve 

Keywords: book review, Matthew D. Adler, distribution, cost-benefit, social welfare function, prioritarian 

Summary: This book review examines Matthew D. Adler's idea that large-scale public policies should be designed to maximize the expectation of a continuous prioritarian social welfare function.

May a government mandate more comprehensive health insurance than citizens want for themselves? (2017)

Author: Alex Voorhoeve

The paper examines a common liberal egalitarian view about the justification for, and proper content of, mandatory health insurance. The author argues that this common justification for a mandate is incomplete. A further reason for mandated insurance is that it helps secure social egalitarian public goods that would be underprovided if insurance were optional. I also argue that rather than mandating what a representative individual would choose for themselves, we should design the mandatory package by appealing to a pluralistic egalitarian view, which cares about improving people’s well-being, reducing unfair inequality, and maintaining egalitarian social relations.


Priority or equality for possible people? (2016)

Authors: Alex Voorhoeve and Marc Fleurbaey

Suppose that you must make choices that may influence the well-being and the identities of the people who will exist, though not the number of people who will exist. How ought you to choose? This paper answers this question. It argues that the currency of distributive ethics in such cases is a combination of an individual’s final well-being and her expected well-being conditional on her existence. It also argues that this currency should be distributed in an egalitarian, rather than a prioritarian, manner.

Social Policy

Redistribution Under the Right in Latin America: Electoral Competition and Organized Actors in Policymaking (2017)

Authors: Tasha Fairfield, Candelaria Garay

Keywords: social and tax policy, political economy, Latin American politics, business and politics, social movements

Summary: Unexpected social policy expansion and progressive tax reforms initiated by right-wing governments in Latin America highlight the need for further theory development on the politics of redistribution. We focus on electoral competition for low-income voters in conjunction with the power of organized actors—both business and social movements. We argue that electoral competition motivates redistribution under left-wing and right-wing incumbents alike although such initiatives are more modest when conservatives dominate and business is well organized. Social mobilization drives more substantial redistribution by counterbalancing business power and focusing incumbents on securing social peace and surviving in office. By characterizing distinctive features of social-policy politics and tax-policy politics and theorizing linkages between the two realms, we contribute to broader debates on the relative influence of voters versus organized interests in policymaking. We apply our theory to explain “least-likely” cases of redistributive policies under conservative governments in Mexico (2000-2012) and Chile (2010-2014).

Were We Really All in it Together? The Distributional Effects of the 2010-15 UK Coalition Government's Tax-benefit Policy Changes (2017)

Author: Paola De Agostini, John Hills, Holly Sutherland

Keywords: income distribution; direct taxes; social security; United Kingdom; Coalition government

Summary: This article examines the distributional impacts of changes to benefits, tax credits, pensions and direct taxes between the UK general elections of May 2010 and May 2015. The findings show that a dominant feature of the period was that the combination of higher tax-free income tax allowances, financed by cuts in benefits and tax credits, was generally regressive.

Social Policy: Looking Backward and Looking Forward in Social Policy Futures: Wreckage, Resilience or Renewal: Report of proceedings of the Social Policy’s 100th Anniversary Colloquium, LSE (2015)

Author: Anthony B. Atkinson

Keywords: social policy, poverty, United Kingdom, Ratan Tata Foundation for the Study of Poverty, LSE

Summary: This section of a larger group of papers focuses on the role of social policy in combatting poverty, with particular reference to the United Kingdom and focuses on three questions: 1) Exceptionalism and/or Demonisation?, 2) Are there any grounds for optimism?, and 3) What are possible ways forward?

Doubly Disadvantaged? Bullying Experiences among Disabled Children and Young People in England (2015)

Authors: Stella Chatzitheochari, Samantha Parsons and Lucinda Platt

Keywords: bullying, children, disability, Millennium Cohort Study, young people, England

Summary: This article enhances the understanding of bullying experiences among disabled children in both early and later childhood, drawing on nationally representative longitudinal data from the Millennium Cohort Study and the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England.

Measuring health inequality with categorical data: some regional patterns  (2013)

Authors: Joan Costa-Font and Frank Cowell

Keywords: health inequality, categorical data, health surveys, upward status, downward status

Summary: Much of the theoretical literature on inequality assumes that the equalisand is a cardinal variable like income or wealth. However, health status is generally measured as a categorical variable expressing a qualitative order. Traditional solutions involve reclassifying the variable by means of qualitative models and relying on inequality measures that are mean independent. This paper argues that the way status is conceptualized has important theoretical implications for measurement as well as for policy analysis. Findings suggest significant differences in health inequality measurment and that regional and country patterns of inequality orderings do not coincide with any reasonable categorization of countries by health system organization.

Intergenerational and socioeconomic gradients of child obesity (2013)

Authors: Joan Costa-Font and Joan Gil 

Keywords: child obesity, intergenerational transmission, socio-economic gradient, income inequalities in child health

Summary: This paper documents evidence of an emerging social gradient of obesity in pre-school children resulting from a combination of both socio-economic status and less intensive childcare associated with maternal employment, when different forms of intergenerational transmission are controlled for. It also estimates and decomposes income related inequalities in child obesity, suggesting robust evidence of both socioeconomic and intergenerational gradients. It appears income and parental influences are the central determinants of obesity among children.

Income inequalities in unhealthy life styles in England and Spain  (2014)

Authors: Joan Costa-Font, Christina Hernandez-Quevedo and Dolores Jimenez Rubio

Keywords: inequalities in unhealthy lifestyles; obesity; alcohol consumption; smoking; reporting bias

Summary: This study draws from health survey data spanning over a period in which major contextual and policy changes have taken place. It documents persistent income-related inequalities in obesity and smoking; both unhealthy lifestyles appear to be disproportionately concentrated among the relatively poor in recent decades. In contrast, alcohol use appears to be concentrated among richer individuals in both periods and countries examined.

Measuring Inequalities in Health: What do we Know? What do we need to know? (2012)

Authors: Joan Costa-i-Font and Christina Hernandez-Quevedo

Keywords: socioeconomic status; health inequalities; income; education; health

Summary: This paper argues that policy analysis aiming at curving inequalities in health calls for a better understanding of what we know about its measurement pathways. In reviewing the literature, we conclude that it is unclear what the evidence suggests about the reasons for health inequalities as well as the best possible instruments to measure both inequality and socioeconomic health gradients. We provide an evaluation of the different sources of health inequity and we draw upon measurement issues and their policy significance. 

Persistence despite action? Measuring the patterns of health inequality in England (1997-2007)  (2011)

Authors: Joan Costa-i-Font, Christina Hernandez-Quevedo and Alistair McGuire

Keywords: health inequalities; England; spearhead areas; concentration index; inequality decomposition

Summary: The persistence of socioeconomic inequalities in health is a major policy concern in England, which was addressed by the new labour government in 1997 which prioritised curtailing health inequalities as a policy goal. This study suggests that patterns of health inequalities in England exhibit no significant variation from 1997 to 2007, although importantly, some reduction on inequalities in health, measured through self-assessed health, is found. Patterns of socioeconomic inequalities in health in spearhead areas are not found to be significantly different than health inequalities in non-spearhead areas.

Exploring the pathways of inequality in health, health care access and financing in decentralized Spain  (2009)

Authors: Joan Costa-Font and Joan Gil

Keywords: decentralization, health inequality, inequalities in access to healthcare, inequalities in healthcare financing, Spain

Summary: The regional organization of the Spanish national health system offers a 'unique field' for exploring the sources of health inequalities as well as for testing the effects of political decentralization on health and healthcare inequalities. This study suggests that inequalities in health and healthcare appear to be driven by income inequalities and inequalities in use but not by inequalities in financing and health expenditure.

What lies behind socio-economic inequalities in obesity in Spain: a decomposition approach  (2008)

Authors: Joan Costa-Font and Joan Gil

Keywords: health information; obesity; education; income effects; inequality decomposition; concentration index

Summary: This paper uses evidence from Spain to empirically address the hypothesis of the existence of income-related inequalities in the probability of suffering obesity in Spain using dat from 2003. It provides suggestive evidence of significant socio-economic inequalities in the probablity of being obese in Spain. However, decomposing such inequalities we find that education attainment and other demographic covariates appear to have a prominent influence. Hence, rather than the so-called pure "income effect", we conclude that socio-economic inequalities in obesity result from the additional influence of other confounding - observed and unobserved - effects.

Would socio-economic inequalities in depression fade away with income transfers? (2008)

Authors: Joan Costa-i-Font and Joan Gil

Keywords: depression; income; health inequities; education and occupational status; mental health; Spain

Summary: Contrary to recent evidence, this paper's findings point towards the existence of significant income-related inequalities in the prevalence of reported (diagnosed) depression. However, the results from a decomposition analysis are more mixed. While a modest proportion of overall inequalities (6-13%) is accounted for by income alone, labour status, demographics and education appear to be more relevant. However, when controlling for potential endogeneity between income and depression by using instrumental variables, income is found to account for more than 50% of overall inequality in reported depression.

The Measurement of Health Inequalities: Does Status Matter? (2016)

Authors: Joan Costa-Font and Frank A. Cowell

Keywords: health inequality, categorical data, entropy measures, health surveys, upward status, downward status

Summary: This paper examines several status concepts to examine self-assessed health inequality using the sample of world countries contained in the World Health Survey. The authors also perform correlation and regression analysis on the determinants of inequality estimates assuming an arbitrary cardinalisation. Their findings indicate major heterogeneity in health inequality estimates depending on the status approach, distributional-sensitivity parameter and measure adopted. They find evidence that pure health inequalities vary with median health status alongside measures of government quality.

Social Advantage and Disadvantage (forthcoming, 2016)

Authors: Hartley Dean and Lucinda Platt

Keywords: social division, injustice, advantage, disadvantage, poverty, social exclusion

Summary: This book captures the sense in which any conceptualisation of disadvantage is concerned with the consequences of processes by which relative advantage has been selectively conferred or attained. It considers how inequalities and social divisions are created as much by the concentration of advantage among the best-off as by the systematic disadvantage of the worst-off. 

Welcome relief or indecent subsidy? The implications of wage top-up schemes(2012)

Author: Hartley Dean

Keywords: cash transfers, means-tested, United Kingdom, tax credit, poverty

Summary: This paper examines a key policy response to the downward pressure on wages of the lowest-paid workers through the introduction of means-tested cash transfer schemes by which to top up low wages. Findings are based on beneficiaries of a particular scheme, the United Kingdom's Working Tax Credit. 

The Ethical Deficit of the UK's Proposed Universal Credit: Pimping the Precariat? (2012) 

Author: Hartley Dean

Keywords: universal credit, wage top-ups, labour market, precariat, ethics 

Summary: This article will argue that the moral justification for the scheme that is offered by the UK government is specious and that the reconfiguration of wage top-ups may be counterproductive and do very little to promote work ethic. In addition, the article argues that the new scheme will not relieve but add to injustices faced by the precariat and that the scheme is ethically flawed.

"The distribution of welfare" In: The Student's Companion to Social Policy  (2016)

Author: John Hills

Keywords: social policy, distribution, welfare, benefits, United Kingdom 

Summary: The fourth edition of The Student's Companion to Social Policy maintains the text's inimitable and best-selling approach through the writing of a wide range of experts in the field. It has been updated and revised to take account of recent developments and debates and changing political and economic configurations.

Falling behind, getting ahead: the changing structure of inequality in the UK, 2007-2013 (2015)

Authors: John Hills, Jack Cunliffe, Polina Obolenskaya, Eleni Karagiannaki

Keywords: qualifications, employment, wealth, economic crisis, United Kingdom 

Summary: This report contains a detailed examination of the qualifications, employment, pay, incomes and wealth of different groups since the economic crisis. It shows that the legacy of the crisis has not fallen evenly. Across a range of outcomes, people in their twenties have lost most, despite higher qualifications than any earlier generation.

The Coalition's Record on Cash Transfers, Poverty and Inequality 2010-2015 (2015)

Author: John Hills

Keywords: tax, benefits and pensions, welfare benefits, social policy, income, poverty, tax and benefit policy, wealth inequality, 

Summary: This paper examines how the Coalition's benefit and direct tax policies affect the distribution of incomes, inequality and poverty in the United Kingdom. 

The politics and practicalities of universalism: towards a citizen-centred perspective on social protection (2014)

Author: Naila Kabeer

Keywords: universalism, means-tested, social protection, benefits, social policy

Summary: The long-standing divide between universal and residual approaches in the field of social policy is also evident in the emerging agenda around social protection. Underpinning this divide are contrasting worldviews. Arguments in favour of residual approaches are frequently couched in a market-centred discourse that stresses efficiency, incentives and a cost-benefit calculus, while those advocating universalism favour a state-centred discourse and normative arguments. This article attempts to bridge the divide by offering a pragmatic argument for incremental universalism that stresses the responsibilities as well as rights associated with citizenship, and suggests the need to factor in wider economic and social externalities in estimating both costs and benefits.

Double Trouble: A review of the relationship between UK poverty and economic inequality (2017)

Authors: Abigail McKnight, Magali Duque and Mark Rucci 

Keywords: inequality, poverty in the UK, poverty reduction, United Kingdom  

The link between inequality and poverty has been highlighted by a number of international organisations, which have outlined a series of policy recommendations supporting the view that high levels of inequality need to be tackled even if the central objective is to reduce poverty. This report makes clear there is a positive correlation between income inequality and relative income poverty in the UK. The strength of this connection depends on which measure of inequality is used and this report makes no claim about causation - but the central conclusion is clear. We can no longer treat poverty and economic inequality as separate problems which can be tackled in isolation. They are instead closely linked and must be tackled together. 

A fresh look at an old question: is pro-poor targeting of cash transfers more effective than universal systems at reducing inequality and poverty? (2015)

Author: Abigail McKnight

Keywords: poverty, redistribution, cash transfers, inequality, welfare

Summary: This paper presents findings on the changing effectiveness of cash transfers and income taxes on inequality and poverty reduction in four EU countries —the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, and France—spanning four decades.

Downward mobility, opportunity hoarding and the 'glass floor', Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission Research Report  (2015)

Author: Abigail McKnight

Keywords: mobility, glass floor, social mobility, occupation, education, social gradients, Britain, children, cohort study

Summary: This paper examines the evidence for a cohort of British children born in 1970 in terms of the relationship between family background, childhood cognitive skills and adult success in the labour market. It focuses on two groups of children: the first group has relatively low levels of cognitive skills at age 5 and on this basis are predicted to be less likely to have highly successful careers; the second group have relatively high levels of cognitive skills at age 5 and are therefore more likely, on average, to have highly successful careers. The paper compares actual outcomes using a measure of high earnings and “top job” status and find social gradients in family background measured by family income and parental social class. It estimates statistical models to seek to identify which variables account for these gradients, factors that could allow advantaged families effectively to construct a ‘glass floor’ to ensure their children succeed irrespective of cognitive ability. 

Divided We Fall? The Wider Consequences of High and Unrelenting Inequality in the UK in Changing Inequalities and Societal Impacts in Rich Countries  (2014)

Authors: Abigail McKnight and Tiffany Tsang

Keywords: income inequality, drivers of inequality, education, United Kingdom, social gradients, health, mortality, voter turnout, trust, tax-benefit system 

Summary:  This chapter examines trends in inequality, the effectiveness of government tax-benefit and public expenditure in terms of reducing inequality, and how inequality trends relate to trends in social, cultural, and political dimensions of people’s lives. This involves the analysis of average levels and social gradients where available. It concludes that the descriptive trends suggest that inequalities in income are associated with divisions in a range of other variables – such as, health, mortality, voter turnout, trust – but there is little to support the hypothesis that higher levels of inequality causes increases in average ‘social ills’.


Social impacts: health, housing and  intergenerational mobility  in Changing Inequalities in Rich Countries: Analytical and Comparative  Perspectives   (2014)

Authors: Abigail McKnight and Frank Cowell

Keywords: health, housing, intergenerational mobility, well-being

Summary: This chapter focuses on reviewing the analytical evidence on the possible ways in which the impact of inequality is transmitted onto outcomes in health, housing and intergenerational mobility; things that principally characterise people’s well-being in the long term. The channels through which the impacts of inequality occur may be principally economic, or they may involve social and psychological effects. In all three areas the authors find evidence that inequality has a negative association at least in terms of cross-country variation. What remains is the more challenging task of identifying and quantifying a link between rising inequality and worsening outcomes.

Measuring material  deprivation over the economic crisis—does a re-evaluation of 'need' affect measures of material deprivation?  (2013)

Author: Abigail McKnight

Keywords: material deprivation, financial crisis, need, households 

Summary: The information presented in this paper shows that individuals are more likely to express that they do not want or need an item the lower their household income. In addition after 2007 as the economic crisis began to hit households there is some evidence of an increase in the share of households reporting that they lived without these items for a reason other than the fact that they couldn't afford. These findings raise some important questions about what this category is capturing and that classifying these individuals as not materially deprived of an item may lead to an under recording of material deprivation. 

Growing  inequality and its impacts—UK Country Report  (2013)

Authors: Abigail McKnight and Tiffany Tsang

Keywords: inequality, impact, United Kingdom, GINI project, income inequality, trends

Summary: This paper contributes to the work if the GINI Growing Inequalities' Impacts project and attempts to outline different emerging inequalities in the United Kingdom from a social policy perspective.

Changing Inequalities and Societal Impacts in Rich Countries: Thirty Countries' Experiences  (2014)

Authors: Brian Nolan, Wiemer Salverda, Danielle Checchi, Ive Marx, Abigail McKnight, István György Tóth and Herman G. van de Werfhorst

Keywords: cross-national analysis, social science, inequality, societal impact, rich countries 

Summary: This edited volume  addresses issues about inequality widely debated in the media in recent years, while advancing academic research in the field by in-depth analysis of country experiences. It Provides in-depth analysis of key issues in the social sciences across a range of disciplines and provides detailed background and information about inequality experiences and impacts in individual countries not found elsewhere. The edited volume applies consistent analytical framework across 30 very different countries examining trends over 30 years.

Changing Inequalities in Rich Countries: Analytical and Comparative Perspectives (2014)

Authors: Wiemer Salverda, Brian Nolan, Daniele Checchi, Ive Marx, Abigail McKnight, István György Tóth and Herman van de Werfhorst

Keywords: income inequality, trends, wealth, education, labour market, cross-national perspective

Summary: This edited volume captures and investigates inequality trends in income, wealth, education, and the labour market, while providing detailed information on inequality experiences across 30 countries examining trends over 30 years. It combines statistically sophisticated comparative analysis with evidence from individual countries experiences and serves as a complement to the volume 'Changing Inequalities and Societal Impacts in Rich Countries: Thirty Countries' Experiences'. 

Book review: when a rich society gets a bit poorer: the safety net in hard times(2015)

Author: Kitty Stewart

Keywords: Tom Clark, Anthony Heath, recession, safety net, United Kingdom

Summary: This paper challenges some aspects of Clark and Heath's argument that the financial crisis exposed 'problems with deep roots in the long decades that came before.' The paper argues that the book's account plays down the extent to which social security protected the vulnerable in the early years of the recession, especially households with children. The paper agrees with the book that two long-term challenges exist: persistent low pay and rising income inequality at the the top of the distribution that have not been addressed by the UK government.


The emergence of inequality in social groups: Network structure and institutions affect the distribution of earnings in cooperation games (2018)

Authors: Milena Tsvetkova, Claudia Wagner, Andrew Mao

Summary: From small communities to entire nations and society at large, inequality in wealth, social status, and power is one of the most pervasive and tenacious features of the social world. What causes inequality to emerge and persist? In this study, we investigate how the structure and rules of our interactions can increase inequality in social groups. Specifically, we look into the effects of four structural conditions—network structure, network fluidity, reputation tracking, and punishment institutions—on the distribution of earnings in network cooperation games. We analyze 33 experiments comprising 96 experimental conditions altogether. We find that there is more inequality in clustered networks compared to random networks, in fixed networks compared to randomly rewired and strategically updated networks, and in groups with punishment institutions compared to groups without. Secondary analyses suggest that the reasons inequality emerges under these conditions may have to do with the fact that fixed networks allow exploitation of the poor by the wealthy and clustered networks foster segregation between the poor and the wealthy, while the burden of costly punishment falls onto the poor, leaving them poorer. Surprisingly, we do not find evidence that inequality is affected by reputation in a systematic way but this could be because reputation needs to play out in a particular network environment in order to have an effect. Overall, our findings suggest possible strategies and interventions to decrease inequality and mitigate its negative impact, particularly in the context of mid- and large-sized organizations and online communities.

New subjectivities: aspiration, prosperity and the new middle class (2018)

Author: Deborah James

Summary: Kenya and South Africa are two settings in which the upwardly-aspiring ‘new middle class’ has been particularly noted: its members desire to transcend the hierarchies and inequalities that once kept some from achieving prosperity. Based on research in South Africa, this article goes beyond a focus on narrowly economic aspects of this class to explore the role of the Pentecostal or neo-charismatic churches in articulating and (re)shaping its subjective values and orientations. Alongside expectations of abundant wealth, these churches affirm the positive qualities that work can endow, a capitalist-style interest in property investment, an inculcation of rational subdivision and allocation of one’s income to diverse ends, and a redistributive approach to economic arrangements. At the same time, church membership allows for self-reflection and critical citizenship: congregants have a nuanced self-awareness of the way in which their new status separates them from those with fewer privileges and less access to the benefits of modernity, and are able to deliberate reflexively about the character of these privileges.

Experience of multiple disadvantage among Roma, Gypsy and Traveller children in England and Wales (2018)

Authors: Tania Burchardt, Polina Obolenskaya, Polly Vizard and Mario Battaglini 

Keywords: Roma, Gypsy, Traveller, poverty, deprivation, inclusion, integration, ‘data exclusion’ 

Summary: Roma, Gypsy and Traveller children across Europe experience high levels of disadvantage and have repeatedly been identified as a priority in European Commission policy documents, yet they are often missing or invisible in the large-scale statistical analyses of children at risk of poverty and deprivation that drive policy development and monitoring. In this paper we argue that population Censuses, and other administrative sources, many of which already record Roma ethnicity, are under-utilised as a source of robust and comparable data, allowing the scale, intensity and multi-dimensionality of the challenges facing Roma, Gypsy and Traveller children to be investigated and tracked. We illustrate this through the descriptive analysis of secure microdata from the 2011 Census of England and Wales, which included a pre-coded category for ‘Gypsy or Irish Traveller’ for the first time, and to which we add children identified as Roma. Disadvantage in each of four dimensions - housing, household economic activity, education and health - are examined in turn before computing a multiple deprivation count. Nearly a quarter of Roma, Gypsy and Traveller children in England and Wales aged under 19 are deprived on 3 or more dimensions, compared to just two per cent of other children. And conversely, only a small minority (15%) of Roma, Gypsy and Traveller children are not deprived in any dimension, compared to the majority (67%) of all other children. We conclude that data scarcity should no longer be used as an excuse for a lack of effective policymaking: it is both desirable and feasible to exploit Census data, as a step towards tackling the data deficit, and that the results can improve the design of child poverty and Roma, Gypsy and Traveller integration policies. 

Ethnic Inequality, Cultural Distance, and Social Integration: Evidence from a Native-Settler Conflict in the Philippines (2018)

Author: Omar Shahabudin McDoom

Keywords: inequality, cultural distance, intermarriage, ethnic conflict, integration

Summary: A key debate in studies of native-migrant relations relates to the barriers to integration created by ethno-cultural differences and socioeconomic disadvantage. How do changes in socioeconomic inequality between ethnic groups affect interethnic ties in a divided society? I investigate this question by analysing the effect of ethnic inequality on the evolution of cross-ethnic marriages in a society fractured by conflict between natives and settlers. I find the effect is contingent on the ethnic group. Certain groups intermarry more in response to reductions in socio-economic disadvantage; others, however, remain indifferent. I suggest the difference relates to cultural distance. Specifically, I point to differences between groups in the power of the norms and sanctions regulating members’ social inter actions outside of the group. These ‘closure’ norms interpose an ethno-cultural distance. I establish these findings with field interviews and census data on over 6 million marriages in Mindanao, an ethnically diverse region in the southern Philippines and location of an insurgency waged by rebels, drawn from the native Muslim Moro population, resentful of the influx of Christian settlers. I find Moro intermarriage unresponsive to socioeconomic equalisation and suggest the strength of their ethno-cultural norms, derived from their ethno-religious identification, accounts for their distinctive response.


Inequality Between Whom? Patterns, Trends, and Implications of Horizontal Inequality in the Philippines (2018)

Authors: Omar Shahabudin McDoom, Celia Reyes, Christian Mina, Ronin Asis

Keywords: Horizontal inequality, Ethnic group, Indigenous people, Violent confict, Philippines, Mindanao

Summary: An overall decline in inequality within a country, when assessed using national-level measures, can evidently obscure important variation in inequality at the subnational level. However, social planners face a choice, whose importance we argue is often under-estimated, in deciding the appropriate spatial and social boundaries along which inequality should be measured at the local level. We illustrate the consequential nature of this choice by examining a historically unequal country that has experienced a recent overall decline in inequality at the national level. Drawing on census micro-data, we show the Philippines made impressive progress in reducing disparities in education and access to basic public services between 2000 and 2010. This change, however, appears less positive when inequality is measured at the subnational level using spatial and social boundaries selected for their socio-political signifcance in the Philippines context. Specifcally, using measures of total, within-group and between-group inequality, we fnd important diferences within and between three salient ethno-religious groupings—Muslims, indigenous persons, and everyone else—as well as within and between three major island groupings, Mindanao, Visayas, and Luzon. We consider the implication of one of these diferences—variation in between-group inequality—by examining its correlation with social and political instability at the subnational level. Our fndings underscore the importance of examining inequality at appropriate localized levels of analysis and, specifcally, selecting carefully the spatial and social boundaries along which it should be measured.

Horizontal inequality, status optimization, and interethnic marriage in a conflict-affected society (Working Paper 2016)

Author: Omar Shahabudin McDoom

Keywords: horizontal inequality, ethnic conflict, social status, ranked groups, intermarriage, Philippines

Summary: Although several theories of interethnic conflict emphasize ties across group boundaries as conducive to ethnic coexistence, little is known about how such ties are formed. Given their integrative potential, I examine the establishment of cross-ethnic marital ties in a deeply divided society and ask what drives individuals to defy powerful social norms and sanctions and to choose life-partners from across the divide. I theorize such choices as the outcome of a struggle between social forces and individual autonomy in society. I identify two channels through which social forces weaken and individual autonomy increases to allow ethnic group members to establish ties independently of group pressures: elite autonomy and status equalization. I find, first, that as an individual’s educational status increases, and second, as between-group inequality declines, individuals enjoy greater freedom in the choice of their social ties. However, I also find that in an ethnically ranked society this enhanced autonomy is exercised by members of high-ranked and low-ranked groups differently. Members from high-ranked groups become more likely to inmarry; low-ranked group members to outmarry. I suggest a status-optimization logic lies behind this divergent behaviour. Ethnic elites from high-ranked groups cannot improve their status through outmarriage and their coethnics, threatened by the rising status of the lower-ranked group, seek to maintain the distinctiveness of their status superiority through inmarriage. In contrast, as their own individual status or their group’s relative status improves, members of low-ranked groups take advantage of the opportunity to upmarry into the higher-ranked group. I establish these findings in the context of Mindanao, a conflict-affected society in the Philippines, using a combination of census micro-data on over two million marriages and in-depth interview data with inmarried and outmarried couples.

An Intensifying and Elite City: New Geographies of Social Class and Inequality in Contemporary London (2017)

Authors: Niall Cunningham

Keywords: social class, London, census, cultural capital, Great British Class Survey, elites

Summary: This paper contributes to the debate on London’s social class structure at the start of the twenty-first century. That debate has focussed on the use of census metrics to argue the case for whether or not the capital has become more or less middle class in composition between 2001 and 2011. The authors contend that the definition of the middle class has become confused in the course of this debate and is of less critical importance for an understanding of the city’s contemporary class structure than is a focus on London’s elite. They make use of data from the BBC’s Great British Class Survey (GBCS) to shed light on the social, cultural and economic resources of this group, in addition to their spatial location. They then return to the census data for 2001 and 2011 and posit that belying the image of stability in London’s class structure these data suggest clear and localised patterns of intensification in class geographies across the capital, an intensification characterised by a growing cleavage between inner and outer London.

The Missing Organizational Dimension of Prisoner Reentry: An Ethnography of the Road to Reentry at a Nonprofit Service Provider (2016)

Author: Jonathan J. B. Mijs

Summary: Prisoner reentry has received great interest in political sociology, criminology, and beyond. Research documents the struggles of individuals trying to find their way back into society. Less attention has been given to the organizational aspects of reentry. This is unfortunate given the rapid growth of nonprofit reentry organizations in the United States, which introduces a new set of questions about the context and challenges to prisoner reentry. Drawing on an ethnography of Safe, a nonprofit reentry organization in the Northeast, I describe the organization's pivotal role in institutionalizing the pathway to prisoner reentry: a road to reentry, which takes former prisoners through a process that reconfigures their morality, identity, and social relationships. The road‐to‐reentry concept helps bring together scholars of the welfare state and criminology by highlighting how the challenges of prisoner reentry rely on how this process is organized. The way in which prison reentry is organized, in turn, affects former prisoners’ agency and shapes the relationship between these men and women and their respective families and communities.

Detroit’s Wealth of Ruins (2014)

Author: Jonathan Jan Benjamin Mijs

Keywords: Detroit, human agency, vacancy, public art, resilience, visual sociology, photography


Sociologist Jonathan Jan Benjamin Mijs explores Detroit, the symbol of destructive global forces, and finds agency in a wealth of ruins.

Trajectories of functional disability for the elderly in Britain (2015)

Authors: Robert French and Fiona Steele

Keywords: ageing, activities of daily living, health trajectories, Britain, British Household Panel Survey (BHPS)

Summary: This study uses an innovative approach to characterise trajectories of functional disability over the final stages of the life course. It identifies accelerating trajectories of frailty for a representative sample of elderly individuals separtely by gender. It shows that socio-occupational classification is associated with the level of initial frailty and to a lesser extent the change in frailty with age. The contribution of the paper is to explore the use of a measurement model to exploit the variation between items in discriminatory power for identifying an indiviual's functional disability. 

The Class Pay Gap in Higher Professional and Managerial Occupations (2016)

Authors: Daniel Laurison, Sam Friedman

Keywords: class pay gap, social mobility, class ceiling, class origin

Summary: This article demonstrates how class origin shapes earnings in higher professional and managerial employment. Taking advantage of newly released data in Britain’s Labour Force Survey, the authors examine the relative openness of different high-status occupations and the earnings of the upwardly mobile within them. In terms of access, we find a distinction between traditional professions, such as law, medicine, and finance, which are dominated by the children of higher managers and professionals, and more technical occupations, such as engineering and IT, that recruit more widely. Moreover, even when people who are from working-class backgrounds are successful in entering high-status occupations, they earn 17 percent less, on average, than individuals from privileged backgrounds.

‘Like Skydiving without a Parachute’: How Class Origin Shapes Occupational Trajectories in British Acting (2016)

Authors: Daniel Laurison, Sam Friedman, Dave O’Brien

Keywords: acting, class origin, class pay gap, cultural and creative industries, cultural capital, social mobility

Summary: There is currently widespread concern that access to, and success within, the British acting profession is increasingly dominated by those from privileged class origins. This article seeks to empirically interrogate this claim using data on actors from the Great British Class Survey (N = 404) and 47 qualitative interviews. The authors demonstrate the profound occupational advantages afforded to actors who can draw upon familial economic resources, legitimate embodied markers of class origin (such as Received Pronunciation) and a favourable typecasting.

Social Mobility, the Class Pay Gap and Intergenerational Worklessness: New Insights from The Labour Force Survey(2017)

Authors: Daniel Laurison, Sam Friedman and Lindsey Macmillan

Keywords: class pay gap, social mobility

Summary: Social mobility remains at the very top of the political agenda. Yet the UK has traditionally lacked a data source extensive enough to pinpoint exactly where to target policy interventions intended to improve social mobility. This report capitalises on new socio-economic background questions within the UK Labour Force Survey (LFS) to provide the most comprehensive analysis of social mobility to-date. Drawing on an unusually large sample of 64,566 we are able to move beyond the normal measures of national mobility rates to shine a light on a number of pressing but largely unexplored questions. In particular, we hone in on mobility in the top echelons of British society by examining the openness of the professions, and at the bottom by looking at intergenerational worklessness. We end with three proposals to improve this important data source to help us answer some key questions regarding social mobility.

Understanding Inequalities: Stratification and Difference (2011)

Author: Lucinda Platt

Keywords: inequalities, stratification, life course, difference

Summary: Bringing together the latest empirical evidence with a discussion of sociological debates surrounding inequality, this book explores a broad range of inequalities in people’s lives. As well as treating the core sociological topics of class, ethnicity and gender, it examines how inequalities are experienced across a variety of settings, including education, health, geography and housing, income and wealth, and how they cumulate across the life course.

Nurse or Mechanic? The Role of Parental Socialization and Children’s Personality in the Formation of Sex-Typed Occupational Aspirations (2014)

Authors: Javier G. Polavieja and Lucinda Platt

Keywords: socialization, sex-typed occupational aspiration, parenting, British

Summary: This study analyses the determinants of sex-typed occupational aspirations amongst British children aged between 11 and 15. It develops a model of parental socialization and tests for different channels and mechanisms involved in the transmission of sex-typical preferences.

Reductions in the United Kingdom's Government Housing Benefit and Symptoms of Depression in Low-Income Households

Authors: Aaron Reeves, Amy Clair, Martin McKee and David Stuckler

Keywords: depression, housing, mental health, natural experiment

Summary: Housing security is an important determinant of mental health. This paper uses a quasinatural experiment to evaluate this association, comparing the prevalence of mental ill health in the United Kingdom before and after the government's April 2011 reduction in financial support for low-income persons who rent private-sector housing. It concludes that reducing housing support to low-income persons in the private rental sector increased the prevalence of depressive symptoms in the United Kingdom.

Social Class in the 21st Century (2015)

Author: Mike Savage

Keywords: class, society, united kingdom, poverty, wealth, social mobility, inequality

Summary: In this book, Mike Savage and the team of sociologists responsible for the Great British Class Survey look beyond the labels to explore how and why society is changing and what this means for the people who find themselves in the margins as well as the centre. 

Introduction to elites from the 'problematic of the proletariat' to a class analysis of 'wealth elites (2015)

Author: Mike Savage

Keywords: wealth elites, class analysis, class, GBCS, inequality, proletariat

Summary: This introductory paper argues that it is vital to reorient class analysis away from its long term preoccupation with class boundaries in the middle levels of the class structure towards a focus on the class formation at the top.

The Shifting Politics of Inequality and the Class Ceiling (2017)

Authors: Mike Savage and Sam Friedman

Keywords: class, class analysis, narrative, inequality

Summary: Britain's class landscape has changed: it is more polarised at the extremes and messier in the middle. The distinction between middle and working class is less clear-cut. The elite is able to set political agendas and entrench their own privilege. The left needs a clear narrative showing how privilege leads to gross unfairness - and effective policies to tackle the 'class ceiling' so entrenched in our society. 

Introduction: stratification or exploitation, domination, dispossession and devaluation? (2015)

Author: Beverley Skeggs

Keywords: stratification, exploitation, GBCS, Bourdieu, domination, dispossession, devaluation, power, inequality 

Summary: This paper locates the Great British Class Survey (GBCS) papers on the elite, and their respondents, within a context that emphasizes a discussion about what is at state in doing sociological research on class. It draws attention to the differences between on the one hand status and stratification, and on the other class struggle perspectives. 

Long-term ill health and the social embeddedness of work: a study in a post-industrial, multi-ethnic locality in the UK (2014)

Authors: Kaveri Qureshi, Sarah Salway, Punita Chowbey and Lucinda Platt

Keywords: illness, work, incapacity, industrial restructuring, social embeddedness

Summary: Against the background of an increasingly individualising welfare-to-work regime, sociological studies of incapacity and health-related worklessness have called for an appreciation of the role of history and context in patterning individual experience. This article responds to that call by exploring the work experiences of long-term sick people in East London, a post-industrial, multi-ethnic locality. It demonstrates how the individual experiences of long-term sickness and work are embedded in social relations of class, generation, ethnicity and gender, which shape people's formal and informal routes to work protection, work-seeking practices and responses to worklessness

International Development, History & Relations

The Tortuga Disease: The Perverse Effects of Illicit Foreign Capital (2017)

Authors: Steven Oliver Ryan Jablonski Justin V. Hastings Author Notes

Summary: Transnational crime brings substantial foreign capital into a number of fragile and developing states. Yet the economic and political impacts of such capital have rarely been studied, due to the challenges of obtaining accurate data on illicit activities. We overcome this challenge by compiling a dataset on the amount and disbursement dates of ransom payments made by ship owners and insurers to Somali pirates from 2005 to 2012, along with sub-national commodity prices and trade flows in Somalia. Using a difference-in-differences strategy, we find that ransoms have effects similar to those associated with the Dutch Disease. These effects include appreciating the local currency, decreasing export competitiveness, and increasing import dependence. Our results illuminate a new and distinct channel through which illicit capital can undermine long-term economic development and foster an economic and political dependency on illicit sectors.

How Aid Targets Votes: The Impact of Electoral Incentives on Foreign Aid Distribution (2014)

Author: Ryan S. Jablonski

Summary: Despite allegations that foreign aid promotes corruption and patronage, little is known about how recipient governments' electoral incentives influence aid spending. This article proposes a distributional politics model of aid spending in which governments use their informational advantages over donors in order to allocate a disproportionate share of aid to electorally strategic supporters, allowing governments to translate aid into votes. To evaluate this argument, the author codes data on the spatial distribution of multilateral donor projects in Kenya from 1992 to 2010 and shows that Kenyan governments have consistently influenced the aid allocation process in favor of copartisan and coethnic voters, a bias that holds for each of Kenya's last three regimes. He confirms that aid distribution increases incumbent vote share. This evidence suggests that electoral motivations play a significant role in aid allocation and that distributional politics may help explain the gap between donor intentions and outcomes.

Neoliberalism and Symbolic Boundaries in Europe: Global Diffusion, Local Context, Regional Variation (2016)

Authors: Jonathan J. B. MijsElyas BakhtiariMichèle Lamont

Keywords: Europe, inequality, neoliberalism, symbolic boundaries

Summary: Studies suggest that the rise of neoliberalism accompanies a foregrounding of individual responsibility and a weakening of community. The authors provide a theoretical agenda for studying the interactions between the global diffusion of neoliberal policies and ideologies, on the one side, and cultural repertoires and boundary configurations, on the other, in the context of local, national, and regional variation. Exploiting variation in the rate of adoption of neoliberal policies across European societies, the authors show how levels of neoliberal penetration covary with the way citizens draw symbolic boundaries along the lines of ethnoreligious otherness and moral deservingness.

Is Extraction Bad? Ecomienda and Development in Colombia Since 1560 (2017)

Authors: Jean-Paul Faguet, Camilo Matarjira and Fabio Sánchez 

Keywords: Encomienda, forced labor, state capacity, extraction, colonialism, development, Colombia

Summary: This paper explores the impact of encomienda, a forced-labor institution imposed by the Spanish throughout Latin America during three centuries, on long-term development outcomes in Colombia.

The Paradox of Land Reform, Inequality and Local Development in Colombia (2017)

Authors: Jean-Paul Faguet, Fabio Sánchez and Marta-Juanita Villaveces 

Keywords: Land reform, inequality, development, latifundia, poverty, Colombia

Summary: Over two centuries, Colombia transferred vast quantities of land, mainly to landless peasants. And yet Colombia retains one of the highest concentrations of land ownership in the world. Why? This paper shows that land reform's effects are highly bimodal. Most of Colombia's 1100+ municipalities lack a landed elite. Here, rural properties grew larger, land inequality and dispersion fell, and development indicators improved. But in municipalities where such an elite does exist and landholding is highly concentrated, such positive effects are counteracted, resulting in smaller rural properties, greater dispersion, and lower levels of development.

Fiscal Policy and Spatial Inequality in Latin America and Beyond (2008)

Authors: Jean-Paul Faguet and Mahvish Shami

Keywords: fiscal policy, spatial inequality, Latin America

Summary: This paper studies the theoretical and empirical links between fiscal policy and spatial inequality, with a non-exclusive focus on Latin American countries. It examines why fiscal policies so often fail to have the ameliorative effects that theory predicts on spatial inequality and explores ways to make policy tools more effective.       

Welfare analysis of changing food prices: a nonparametric examination of rice policies in India (2015)

Authors: Ben Groom and Mehroosh Tak

Keywords: food price shock, India, rice, poverty, welfare analysis

Summary: This paper examines the welfare impact of the Indian government's rice price policies in the light of the global food crisis of 2007-08 using a nonparametric approach for regression and density estimation. The extent of welfare varied among different household types, as the poor in India are heterogenous in nature. 

The Tertiary Tilt: Education and Inequality in the Developing World (2014)

Author: Lloyd Gruber and Stephen Kosack 

Keywords: education, development, education spending, MDGs, inequality 

Summary: This paper claims that education is widely perceived to be a tonic for the rising inequality that often accompanies development, but most developing-country governments tilt their education spending toward higher education. This paper finds that in countries with high "tertiary-tilts," enrollment is associated a decade later with far higher inequality. 

Assessing the Impact of Social Mobilization: Nijera Kori and the Construction of Collective Capabilities in Rural Bangladesh (2014)

Authors: Naila Kabeer and Munshi Sulaiman

Keywords: impact assessment, microfinance, social mobilization, collective capabilities, NGOs, Bangladesh

Summary: While Bangladesh has a large and active development non-governmental organization sector, it has undergone a steady process of homogenization, turning from its early focus on social mobilization to a market-oriented service provision model, dominated by microfinance. This article explores the impacts associated with Nijera Kori, one of the few organizations that has retained a commitment to social mobilization, seeking to strengthen the collective capabilities of the poor men and women to protest injustice and demand their rights. The article uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative data to measure the political, economic and social impacts of the organization and to unpack the processes by which the observed changes have occurred.

Gender, poverty, and inequality: a brief history of feminist contributions in the field of international development (2015)

Author: Naila Kabeer

Keywords: poverty, inequality, gender, intersectionality, financial crisis, policy responses

Summary: This paper provides a brief history of feminist contributions to the analysis of gender, poverty, and inequality in the field of international development. It draws out the continuous threads running through these contributions over the years, as the focus has moved from micro-level analysis to a concern with macro-level forces. It concludes with a brief note on some of the confusions and conflations that continue to bedevil attempts to explore the relationship between gender, poverty, and inequality.

Leaving No One Behind?: Informal Economies, Economic, Inclusion and Islamic Extremism in Nigeria  (2015)

Author: Kate Meagher

Keywords: informal economy, inclusive markets, Nigeria, Boko Haram 

Summary: This article examines how the post-2015 commitment to economic inclusion affects informal economic actors in developing countries. It highlights the selective dynamics of inclusive market models that generate new processes of exclusion in which the most vulnerable continue to be left behind.

Will no one Plant a Tree in Indonesia? Yes, the Poor will, and on Islands not known for Their Forests: One such is Timor (2015)

Author: Roger Montgomery 

Keywords: poverty reduction, agriculture, Indonesia, development 

Summary: This paper explores an innovative approach to poverty reduction by the introduction of an agro-forestry variant of sustainable agricultural land technology among rural farming population of an upland district on the western half of Timor Island, East Nusa Tenggara.

Historical Origins of Uneven Service Supply in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Role of Non-State Providers (2014) 

Author: Frank-Borge Wietzke

Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa, education, wellbeing

Summary: This paper claims that variations in non-state service provision are a relatively understudied dimension of wellbeing inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa. It studies long-term associations in Madagascar between nineteenth-century missionary education and the availability of private schools today. 

Climate Change & the Environment

Heat, Greed and Human Need (2017)

Author: Ian Gough

Keywords: climate change, social policy, sustainable wellbeing, sustainable development

Summary: This book builds an essential bridge between climate change and social policy. Combining ethics and human need theory with political economy and climate science, it offers a long-term, interdisciplinary analysis of the prospects for sustainable development and social justice. Beyond 'green growth' (which assumes an unprecedented rise in the emissions efficiency of production) it envisages two further policy stages vital for rich countries: a progressive 'recomposition' of consumption, and a post-growth ceiling on demand.