Working Paper Series

Working Paper Series

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

Latest publication

What's Left? Political orientation, economic conditions, and incarceration in Greece under Syriza-led government 
Leonidas K. Cheliotis and Sappho Xenakis

Abstract

An important body of scholarly work has been produced over recent decades to explain variation in levels and patterns of state punishment across and within different countries around the world. Two variables that have curiously evaded systematic attention in this regard are, first, the orientation of incumbent governments along the political spectrum, and second, the experience and fiscal implications of national economic downturn. Although recent years have seen both variables receive somewhat greater consideration, there is still precious little research into the effects on state punishment that they have in interaction with one another. With a view to helping fill this gap in the literature, this article identifies the direction and assesses the extent of influence exerted by government political orientation, on one hand, and economic downturn alongside its fiscal repercussions, on the other hand, upon the evolution of incarceration in the context of contemporary Greece. In so doing, we offer a uniquely detailed account of carceral trends before and during the period that a coalition government led by the left-wing Syriza party was in power. With regard to carceral trends as such, the scope of our analysis extends beyond conventional imprisonment also to include immigration detention. As well as arguing that economic downturn can place crucial limits on a government’s ability to execute progressive plans in carceral matters, we additionally conclude that a government’s scope of action in this vein may be further restricted depending on the autonomy it can wield in defiance of foreign forces intervening in both economic and political realms.

Key words: Government political orientation; economic downturn; imprisonment; immigration detention; Syriza

 

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2020

University research engagement around climate knowledge: findings from a small empirical study
David Lewis

Abstract

Based on detailed interviews with ten researchers from different disciplines working on climate and environment issues at LSE, this paper reports on university-based researcher relationships with, and perceptions of, the worlds of public policy. Findings indicate a wide range of different modes of engagement with policy, the importance of informal networks in facilitating such engagement, and the relative lack of contact with the private sector as compared to links with government and civil society. The paper concludes that this diversity of engagement modes is important for maintaining universities' relevance, but that universities should do more to cultivate the co-production of research agendas with both policy actors and communities.

Key words: research-policy interface; knowledge brokers; policy engagement; public policy

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

Abstract

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

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

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

MSc Dissertation

Titmuss Prize for Outstanding Performance 2019 

Abstract

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

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

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

Abstract

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

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

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

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

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

Postgraduate dissertation

Abstract

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

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

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

Abstract

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

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

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

Abstract

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

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

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

Undergraduate dissertation

Abstract

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

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

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2019

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

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The lasting effects of natural disasters on property crime: evidence from the 2010 Chilean earthquake
Jorge García Hombrados
Key words: Natural disasters; crime; social capital.

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Stalling of mortality in the United Kingdom and Europe: an analytical review of the evidence
Michael Murphy, Marc Luy and Orsola Torrisi
Key words: Life expectancy; UK mortality trends; Europe mortality trends; Influenza; Austerity.

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Female genital cutting and education: theory and causal evidence from Senegal 
Jorge García Hombrados and Edgar Salgado
Key words: Female genital cutting, education, harmful traditions.

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Read the related blog post here.

 

Preterm births and educational disadvantage: heterogenous effects across families and schools 
Anna Baranowska-Rataj, Kieron Barclay, Joan Costa-Font, Mikko Myrskylä and Berkay Özcan
Key words: SEN, disability, social isolation, loneliness, life-course

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Growing up lonely? Exploring the social outcomes of three generations identified with special education needs or disabilities in childhood
Samantha Parsons and Lucinda Platt
Key words: SEN, disability, social isolation, loneliness, life-course

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Read the related blog post here.

 

Reducing Mommy Penalties with Daddy Quotas
Allison Dunatchik and Berkay Özcan
Key words: family policy, gender roles, parental leave, work, work-family issues

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Inter-ethnic relations of teenagers in England's schools: the role of school and neighbourhood ethnic composition
Simon Burgess and Lucinda Platt
Key words: ethnicity, attitudes, contact, children, school context

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Two Become One: Improving the Targeting of Conditional Cash Transfers With a Predictive Model of School Dropout
Cristian Crespo
Key words: conditional cash transfers, targeting, school dropout prediction, machine learning, proxy means tests

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Cash for Grades or Money for Nothing? Evidence from Regression Discontinuity Designs
Cristian Crespo
Key words: cash for grades, regression discontinuity, bono por logro escolar, cash transfers

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Social Policy with Tunnel Vision: The problems of state efforts to curb adolescent pregnancy in Post 1988 Brazil
Beatriz Burattini- MSc Dissertation
Key words: adolescent pregnancy, sexual citizenship, legibility, health indicators, medicalisation

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Social entrepreneurship before neoliberalism? The life and work of Akhtar Hameed Khan 
David Lewis
Keywords: social entrepreneurship; non-governmental organisations (NGOs); community development; public administration; rural development; life history

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A different perspective on the evolution of UK income inequality
A.B. Atkinson and Stephen P. Jenkins
Key words: inequality, tax unit, household, Gini coefficient, income tax data, household survey data, HBA1, SPI

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2018

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

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

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

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