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Publications and Outputs

Here you will find a list of our published outputs including journal articles, working papers, toolkits, data visuals, media articles and policy briefing papers.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about any of our work, please get in touch at Understanding.Inequalities@ed.ac.uk 

Journal article: Maternal employment and the well-being of children living with a lone mother in Scotland

Francesca Fiori

Is maternal employment beneficial to the child socio-emotional wellbeing? This study examines whether, under which circumstances, and through which mechanisms maternal employment influences the socioemotional well-being of children living with a lone mother in Scotland.

Previous research has shown that children who do not live with both of their parents fare worse on a variety of outcomes. However, less is known about the factors that contribute to the negative effect of family structure.

Using Growing Up in Scotland data, this study reveals that children of working lone mothers are less at risk of having severe socioemotional problems, particularly if their mothers work in medium–high occupational positions. Higher levels of household income and the greater psychological well-being of working mothers partly explain the positive effect of maternal employment.

Data Comic: How crime has changed in Scotland

Professor Susan McVie

The Understanding Inequalities project team were delighted to have the opportunity to work with graphic artist Miranda Smith, who used data and findings provided by Professor Susan McVie to create the data comic "How crime has changed in Scotland".

Illustration of police offer behind "police line" tape

The comic looks at how crime has changed in Scotland, including the fall in police recorded crime and how young people have contributed to the crime drop. It also explores poverty as a risk factor for offending and what happens to young offenders who are caught by the police.

UI submission of evidence to the UK Parliament COVID Committee


The Understanding Inequalities project has submitted evidence to the UK Parliament COVID Committee in response to their national inquiry into life beyond COVID, which asks for views on the long-term implications of the pandemic for our society – for example what it might mean for (in)equality.

Our evidence submission highlights twelve areas of inequality that are likely to be impacted substantially by the pandemic based on highly rigorous research evidence:

Police use of Fixed Penalty Notices under the Covid-19 regulations in Scotland: A new data report highlights links with deprivation and inequality

Susan McVie

A data report presented to the Scottish Policy Authority (SPA) today shows that almost a third of all Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were issued to people living in the top 10% most deprived communities of Scotland.  Moreover, FPNs were twelve times more likely to be issued to people living in the 10% most deprived parts of Scotland compared to those living in the 10% least deprived areas.

Social Mobility Commission report cites research by UI project team


Research by UI Co-Director Cristina Iannelli and Research Fellow Dr Adriana Duta has been cited in the latest Social Mobility Commission reports: Moving out to move on published 23 July 2020 and the 2019 report State of the Nation 2018-19: Social Mobility in Great Britain.

The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for policy in relation to children and young people: a research review

Emer Smyth

A research review, co-authored by UI Co-Director Professor Emer Smyth and fellow collaborators at the ESRI, finds that action is needed to address the short and longer-term impacts of COVID-19 response on children and young people.

The report draws on existing and emerging Irish and international research on the effects of the pandemic restrictions on children and young people. In particular, the report reviews research evidence in the areas of family and peer relationships, health and wellbeing, education (from early childhood to third-level) and post-school transitions to provide insights into the potential consequences of the current crisis from infancy to early adulthood.

Police use of the new Covid-19 powers: Using administrative data to analyse and evaluate practice


A data report scrutinising Police Scotland’s use of the new temporary powers introduced to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic shows that less than seven percent of all interventions involved the use of enforcement, such as a fine or an arrest.

UI submission of evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Social Mobility


The Understanding Inequalities project has submitted evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Social Mobility in response to their national inquiry into housing and employment, which is aimed at tackling the employment and earnings gap in social housing.

Our evidence submission focused on answering the following research questions posed by the group:

  • What is the relationship between social housing and employment? and
  • What can Government do to support the social housing sector and tenants, and to reduce the social
    housing employment and earnings gap?

Read the full submission below.

Documentary: Addressing Spatial Inequality in the 21st Century


Last year we hosted an international symposium on The Dynamics of Spatial Inequality in Sheffield.  This event brought together US and UK-based speakers and delegates from a variety of policy, practitioner and academic disciplines to share perspectives on whether and how spatial inequalities matter and the implications for policy innovation. 

As part of this event, we filmed a short documentary featuring interviews with our international speakers. We asked them about the implications of spatial inequalities for life outcomes, across health, housing and the labour market, and we asked what they thought a new vision for spatial policy in the 21st Century might look like. This film also features an interview with Lord Blunkett, former UK Home Secretary. 

You can also view a selection of short clips from the film including: 

Summary report: Driving forward data-informed approaches to policing

Susan McVie

In October 2019, Understanding Inequalities held a joint event with the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research (SCADR) and Police Scotland to discuss data-informed approaches to policing, looking at the use of police data to assess demand, inform deployment and address priorities.

We have produced a short summary report which draws together themes from the presentations and facilitated discussion. These themes included the data priorities for policing in Scotland, the various different data sources that are currently being used to inform policing, the challenges associated with accessing and linking types of data, while the report also highlights the potential solutions and ways of working across organisations to mitigate some of these challenges. 

Read the report in full here. 

Breifing paper: Living with a lone mother in Scotland. Do children fare better if their mothers are in work?

Francesca Fiori
In this Understanding Inequalities briefing paper, Dr Francesca Fiori sets out findings from her research, which uses the Growing Up in Scotland survey data to explore the effect of maternal employment on the socio-emotional wellbeing of children living with a lone mother.
Read the briefing in full here:


Journal article: Estimating the local employment impacts of immigration: A dynamic spatial panel model

Fingleton, B; Olner, D; Pryce G

This paper highlights a number of important gaps in the UK evidence base on the employment impacts of immigration, namely: (1) the lack of research on the local impacts of immigration – existing studies only estimate the impact for the country as a whole; (2) the absence of long-term estimates – research has focused on relatively short time spans – there are no estimates of the impact over several decades, for example; (3) the tendency to ignore spatial dependence of employment which can bias the results and distort inference – there are no robust spatial econometric estimates we are aware of.

UI submission of evidence to the Edinburgh Poverty Commission, June 2019

At the end of June, the Understanding Inequalities project submitted evidence to the Edinburgh Poverty Commission in response to their latest call for evidence which focuses on ‘Prospects – what can be done do to improve the life chances of people who are struggling to get by in Edinburgh'.

Our evidence submission focused on the following two areas of research by the Understanding Inequalities team: crime and justice, looking at the rates and patterns of offending and victimisation across the city of Edinburgh,  and the impact of poverty on access to employment opportunities in the city.

You can read the submission in full here.

Summary Report: The impact of inequalities in the early years on outcomes over the life course

We recently held a symposium at the Scottish Parliament, which brought together international academics and policy makers to discuss the impact of childhood inequalities on life outcomes across a broad range of topics, including education, crime and well-being.

We asked each of our speakers to contribute to this summary report, which draws together the findings that were presented toether with the policy discussions that followed. The presentations drew on a range of  international evidence from the US, Israel, Ireland,  New Zealand and Australia, together findings emerging from Scottish and UK data sets, exploring key stages in a young person's life, from early adversity in early childhood through adolescence and the impact of this on adult lives.

We would like to acknowledge all those who participated in the symposium and contributed to the production of the report. This work was supported by an ESRC International Networking Award.

Increasing inequality in experience of victimisation during the crime drop: Analysing patterns of victimisation in Scotland from 1993 to 2014–15

McVie,S; Norris, P; Pillinger, R

British Journal of Criminology.


Research on the international crime drop has predominantly focused on the nature and extent of overall crime or changes in specific crime types, but less attention has been paid to how equally the crime drop has been distributed across society. Applying a novel quasi-longitudinal approach to Scottish victimisation data, this article examines changes in the prevalence, frequency and type of victimisation experienced. We argue that the crime drop has resulted in an increase in inequality between those at most and least risk of being a victim of crime, especially violence. The article contributes to theoretical debates on the crime drop, crime inequality and distributive justice, and provides policy recommendations on the importance of crime reduction strategies that target repeat victimisation.

Developing the ‘Akmedoids’ statistical package and its application to assess long-term inequality in the exposure to crime

Monsuru Adepeju

In recent years we have seen an increasing interest in the study of longitudinal crime concentrations at small geographic scales such as street segments and neighbourhoods. That said, the prospect of being able to adequately identify the slowly changing character of these place-based crime profiles has been hindered by one key methodological drawback: the heightened sensitivity of existing longitudinal clustering methods to short-term fluctuations. Amongst the methods currently available, k-means clustering is the most malleable, allowing the opportunity for bespoke adjustments which might be prompted by theoretical or empirical insight.

UI Symposium speakers on inequalities and the importance of comparative evidence

At our recent symposium on 'The impact of inequalities in the early years on outcomes over the life course' we asked some of our international guest speakers about the importance of using comparative evidence from other countries and jurisdictions when developing policy to tackle inequalities. 

Click on the video clips below to see:

Dr Abby Fagan, Associate Professor at the University of Florida on the importance of projects like Understanding Inequalities in gathering evidence to support initiatives to tackle inequalities. 

Dr Louise Scott, Head of the Families and Analysis Division at Scottish Government on how they use research evidence from other countries to inform policy development in Scotland. 

Presentations from The Dynamics of Spatial Inequality: Processes, Outcomes & Solutions

On Friday 29th March we held a symposium to discuss the Dynamics of Spatial Inequality: Processes, Outcomes & Solutions.

This event brought together policy makers, stakeholders and leading researchers from a variety of academic disciplines and policy perspectives to discuss the latest research on whether and how spatial inequalities matter and  the implications for policy innovation. The aim of the symposium was to examine how inequality in housing wealth reinforces intergenerational inequality, and how discrimination in the housing market makes it more difficult for ethnic minorities to access neighbourhoods with the best economic opportunities.

Slides from the UI International Symposium: The impact of inequalities in the early years on outcomes over the life course

On Monday 11th March, we hosted an international symposium on 'The impact of inequalities in the early years on outcomes over the life course'. This event brought together international academics from the US, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Ireland and the UK who are actively researching the impact of disadvantage and inequality in the early years, with policy makers from different jurisdictions who have a shared interest in developing creative and effective solutions.

This was a closed event however the presentations are of relevance to anyone working to address childhood inequalities. Please find a copy of the programme here, which gives more context and information about the aims of the event. You can also find biographies for each of the presenters here.

New AQMeN Research Briefing: Reduction in homicide and violence in Scotland is largely explained by fewer gangs and less knife crime

Sara Skott and Susan McVie

In this briefing paper, Sara Skott and Susan McVie explore how a decline in knife crime and gang violence has made the biggest overall contribution to the reduction of homicides and other forms of  violence in Scotland.

Read the briefing here. 

This briefing paper was produced by Dr Sara Skott and Professor Susan McVie, as part of a wider body of work around homicide and violence which was carried out under the auspices of the ESRC Applied Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN)  Research Centre (2013-2017).

Find out more about Sara's work and the wider AQMeN research into crime and victimsation at the AQMeN website.  


Data Comic about inequalities in Scotland

Professor Gwilym Pryce and Dr Meng Le Zhang

Earlier this year the Understanding Inequalities project was approached by University of Edinburgh colleagues Benjamin Bach and Catherine Magill regarding their data visualisation project focussing on inequality and inclusion. This project was funded by the Edinburgh Futures Institute and posed the question -
"Can data visualisations engage a wider audience in data-driven policy and decision-making about inequality?"

We were delighted to have the opportunity to work with Ben, Cat and graphic artist Miranda Smith, who used data and findings provided by Professor Gwilym Pryce and Dr Meng Le Zhang to create a data comic - "We'll take the low road": how has Scotland fared in pursuing its vision for lower inequality?