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Socio-economic

In our modern societies, opportunities and rewards are still unequally distributed across different social groups (e.g. between women and men, people from different families of origins, between migrants and nationals).  Our research on socio-economic inequalities will focus on the development and perpetuation of inequalities during individuals’ life course and the role of contextual factors. In particular, it will analyse the individual, family and institutional factors which shape and drive a variety of inequalities that emerge during the early and middle years of childhood across a range of outcomes, including cognitive development, school achievement and engagement, well-being and pro-social behaviour. A multi-dimensional approach will be used to analyse the effect of children’s family background, disentangling the influences of parental education, social class, household income, family structure and ethnicity on children’s outcomes, as well as recognising the potential of intersectionality.

 

 

 

 

We will also be looking at resilience at individual and community level and the ways in which people and communities thrive in the face of adversity. Under this theme, our research will analyse:

(1) the features of these resilient people and the factors (individual, family and contextual) which contributed to their success in the face of adversity
(2) childhood and youth experiences that helped them to build resilience and develop positive outcomes later in life
(3) spill-over effects of resilience from a particular life domain to other domains
(4) the relation between resilient people and resilient communities

We are focussing on the research questions listed below. Further detail of the specific focus, data sets and quantitative methods that will be applied to carry out this analysis can be found under each question.

This research links closely to our work around Education and the Labour Market, as well as Age, Crime, Justice and Gender.

Research Papers

The changing profile of crime victims in Scotland: Has the crime drop resulted in greater concentration of inequalities?

McVie, Norris, Pillinger and Skott.

Building on previous work (McVie, Norris and Pillinger, 2019) this analysis aims to explore the factors that have influenced growing inequality in the experience of victimisation over the period of the crime drop in Scotland.  Key research questions are:

·         To what extent has the crime drop resulted in a widening gap in risk of exposure to victimisation (based on frequency and type of crime)?

·         What factors explain this widening gap in the risk of exposure to victimisation?

·         To what extent could any widening inequality be a result of economic stress (potentially as a result of the financial crash) as opposed to other social characteristics of the Scottish population?

Type(s) of inequality and how inequality is defined

We focus principally on the issue of inequality in exposure to crime victimisation.  In doing so, we take account of differences according to age, sex, socio-economic status, economic stress, educational level and health conditions.

The transition to primary school: How family background and childcare experiences influence children’s skills on school entry

This paper uses data from Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) and the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) for Scotland to explore the factors influencing inequalities in children’s skills on entry to primary school. The main research questions are:

•    Are there social inequalities by parental background in cognitive skills on entry to primary school?
•    To what extent do early childcare experiences and family environment explain the differences by parental background and what is their relative importance?
•    Are there differences between Scotland and Ireland in the level of inequality and the processes shaping it?  

Type of inequality
Previous research has generally focused on mother’s education or social class. Instead, the analyses adopt a multidimensional approach to inequality, focusing on differences in child outcomes by parental social class, mother’s education and household income.

Problem behaviour in children: policy, politics and social inequality in Scotland

This paper explores the impact of socio-economic and other inequalities on the risk of conduct disorder among a cohort of children aged 10 years in Scotland. Broadly defined, children with conduct disorder have a difficult time following rules and behaving in a socially acceptable way. In the UK, early onset conduct disorder is the main reason for referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. While there is an extensive literature on childhood conduct disorders, most research to date has focused on individual and family level factors, for example, child personality traits, family background and dysfunction, parenting styles and more recently, the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). A similar focus is reflected within policy, whereby the main emphasis is on parenting classes and child psychological therapies. For example, the Scottish Government Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027 aims to have completed a national roll-out of targeted parenting programmes for three and four-year olds with conduct disorder by 2019-2020.

Poverty, employment and access to amenities in polycentric cities: measuring the decentralisation of poverty and its impacts in England and Wales

A growing number studies of European and North American cities have shown that poverty is moving away from urban centres in a process known as the decentralisation (or suburbanisation) of poverty. These findings raise important questions about the impact on the quality of life for poorer residents who face financial constraints with respect to their access to transport. This paper investigates the implications of decentralisation of poverty for inequality in access to amenities and employment.
We define “access” in terms of distance to these features. Using data on England and Wales, we find that the decentralisation of poverty has led to greater inequalities between poor and non-poor households in access to both employment and amenities in large urban areas.

Crime cascade networks and their relationship to administrative boundaries and social frontiers

Bannister et al. (2015) found growing inequalities in exposure to crime due to crime rates falling more in some areas than others. This raises a number of questions. How do crime fads and trends emerge? How do they spread to other neighbourhoods? Why are some neighbourhoods impervious to particular fads and trends, but susceptible to others? Where do particular fads and trends start and finish? To what extent is the crime linkage non-spatial? Are neighbourhoods linked through movements in crime linked in other ways?  And how fragile or robust is the network of crime links? To understand inequalities in exposure to crime and why they shift over time, we need to understand the wider mechanism for crime transmission.

What are the effects of changing neighbourhood poverty on labour market outcomes?

Since the turn of the century, there has been a rise in Scottish nationalist sentiment but unusually this has not been associated with a rise in anti-immigration parties such as UKIP. Indeed, one of the themes of the Scottish Independence debate was how Scotland has a fundamentally more open and tolerant approach to immigration than England. Scotland did not experience the rise of anti-immigration attitudes seen south of the Border, particularly in the lead up to and the aftermath of the Brexit referendum. This raises an interesting question about whether migrants and ethnic minorities more generally in Scotland benefit in substantive ways from the greater ambient tolerance north of the border.

Have ethnic minorities decentralised in Scottish cities, and what is the impact on access to employment, schooling and health services?

We have seen significant changes to the centralisation and spatial ordering of poverty in Scottish cities, but we know little about how these effects or their consequences differ for ethnic minorities.
In this research paper we are interested in addressing two key questions:

(1) has there been significant changes to the spatial distribution of different ethnic minorities (particularly in terms of decentralisation and spatial ordering)?

(2) what have been the impacts in terms of their access to employment, education and health services (GP surgeries), and their exposure to pollution, and crime?

We plan to investigate this using similar methodology to that used by Zhang & Pryce (2018) and to focus on inter-ethnic differences.

This research is in development. If you have any questions about this work, please contact Professor Gwilym Pryce.

Inequalities in achieving a higher education qualification: using a sibling design to disentangle the importance of individual and family factors

Sibling designs are an important analytical strategy to capture the family environment as a global measure, providing a summary indicator of all measured and unmeasured characteristics shared by siblings at birth and during their upbringing, such as genes, social environment, siblings interactions and many others. This, in turn, allows us to assess the relative importance of shared family characteristics vs. individual characteristics and of different parental background measures within the total family shared environment. This paper will provide new and robust empirical evidence regarding social inequalities in HE graduation. Using new siblings’ data from the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS), the paper addresses the following research questions:
 (1) What is the share of between and within family variance in siblings’ HE outcomes?  
(2) Does this differ by social class of origin and by other family characteristics?
(3) How much of the total variance between families is explained by parental social class, education and other family-level characteristics?

Against all odds: Enabling factors in early childhood for cognitive outcomes

This research investigates the extent to which children from more disadvantaged backgrounds achieve cognitive outcomes higher than their peers and the factors which are behind their more successful outcomes in a life-course perspective. The aim is to identify and understand specific factors and turning points in children’s lives which can help children to overcome the negative influences of the social disadvantage they are born in and to shed light on the mechanisms at play. Thus, we ask the following questions:
1)    To what extent do children from disadvantaged backgrounds attain successful cognitive outcomes?
2)    What are the key enabling factors that distinguish successful children from disadvantaged backgrounds (the ‘resilient’) from their peers who attain less? And what is the interplay between the enabling factors analysed?
3)    Are there turning points in the life-course of disadvantaged children which enable them to achieve better outcomes than expected?

Social class differences in parenting practices and their influence on children’s educational outcomes in Scotland and the United States

A large body of literature has investigated the existence of social class differences in children’s school outcomes. However, relatively less is known about the possible mechanisms through which this relationship operates.

We address the following questions:
•    Are there social class differences in children’s educational outcomes at age 10 in Scotland and the U.S.A?
•    To what extent do differences in parenting practices explain the observed social class differences in children’s outcomes?
•    Do different mechanisms operate within each national context?

Growing up with a lone mother in Scotland: the role of employment, childcare and family ties on children’s wellbeing

Increasing scholarly attention has focused on the link between family demography and inequalities, and its implications for children’s life courses. Children born from more disadvantaged families are more likely to experience family changes and structures that are associated with a loss of resources, such as their parents’ early and non-marital family formation, union instability and weaker labour market attachment. These experiences have important repercussions on children’s well-being and chances in life.

Mothers’ employment patterns and child behaviour: Comparing Scotland and Germany

The number of working women has markedly increased in recent decades. In this process, many debates have focused on how the children of working mothers fare in terms of well-being and development: On the one hand, maternal employment may negatively impact children because employed mothers have less time to spend with their child and they may be more stressed than non-employed mothers. On the other hand, increased family income and satisfaction derived from work may have positive effects on children. Maternal employment is socially stratified. Working in low-skilled occupation or stressful working conditions is more likely to be experienced by women in less favourable life conditions, particularly, low educated mothers. If these working conditions negatively affect child outcomes, then social inequalities are likely to accumulate. Therefore, studying the impact of maternal employment on child outcomes may shed light on processes of cumulative disadvantage in the early life course.
The key research questions are:
•    Does maternal employment affect the socio-emotional wellbeing of children growing up with a lone mother?

Place and punishment in Scotland: stability and change in the relationship between deprivation and imprisonment

Recent scholarship in the USA (Simes 2017) has identified the spatial context of imprisonment as an important issue.  Whilst criminologists have typically seen imprisonment as a response to urban inequality or urban social control, Simes has shown that imprisonment rates can also be high away from urban centres in smaller 'satellite' cities.
Using 2003 data for Scotland, Houchin (2005) identified Glasgow as an important site of both high deprivation and imprisonment, but since the early 2000s cities such as Glasgow have seen a 'sub-urbanization' of poverty (Minton and Bailey 2018), with increasing levels of deprivation away from city centres and towards the suburbs. This raises the question of whether the spatial relationship between imprisonment and deprivation in Scotland has also changed over this period. We aim to revisit and extend Houchin's analysis to explore change in the spatial context of imprisonment in Scotland. 

To what extent does gender and poverty impact on the relationship between violence and self-harm?

In 1996, the World Health Organisation (WHO) adopted a resolution which declared violence to be a major and growing public health problem at a global level.  The WHO’s definition of violence includes both interpersonal and self-directed forms of behaviour (including self-injury and suicidal behaviour), the rationale being that these are often products of the same underlying factors. Both violence and self-harming behaviour are common in adolescence; however, few studies have examined whether there are causal connections between them or whether these are comorbid psychosocial disorders that are explained by similar aetiological factors, such as growing up in poverty. Moreover, teenage violence is largely perpetrated by young men, whereas self-harm is most prevalent amongst young women.  So there is little understanding of whether gender inequalities impact on any relationship between the two forms of violence.  

Our other areas of research

Age

Crime

Education

Employment

Environmental

Ethnicity

Gender

Housing

Justice

Spatial

Well-being