Rising inequality in the UK undermines mobility and social cohesion

Monday 5 July 2010

New research, presented at a major international conference in London, demonstrates how inequality in education, skills and incomes reduces opportunity and undermines social cohesion. In education, for example, the social and ability mix of the school has a major impact on how well a child performs. Prof Andy Green, Dr Germ Janmaat and Dr Tarek Mostafa show this 'peer effect' is particularly strong in the UK where school intakes and performance vary widely. High levels of inequality in skills are, in turn, associated with growing income gaps and declining levels of social and political trust.

Other research presented by Prof Lorna Unwin, Prof Geoff Mason and Prof Ingrid Schoon, will highlight growing regional inequalities in the UK in adult training, teenage mobility, and social and economic conditions more generally.

The conference, Exploring Inequality and its Consequences: Education, Labour Markets and Communities, is organised by the Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES), and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

'One of the main aims of the conference is to bring together the most recent evidence on inequality from different fields of research so that the implications for policy can be debated and highlighted.' says Prof Green, Director of LLAKES. Presentations will include the latest findings from LLAKES research projects as well as keynote presentations from leading academics working on inequality in the UK and around the world, including; Martin Carnoy, Danny Dorling, John Hills, Roger Jowell and Sylvia Walby.

The conference brings together over 70 delegates from the UK and abroad and takes the form of an extended seminar, with a mixture of plenary and smaller group sessions.

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Notes for editors

  1. The LLAKES International conference will take place on the 5-6 July at Birkbeck University of London Malet Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HX
  2. The Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES) investigates the role of lifelong learning in promoting economic competitiveness and social cohesion, and in mediating the interactions between the two.  LLAKES aims to work with policymakers, education and training professionals, employers, trade unions and other interested parties to improve the way in which national and international research evidence is shared and used.
  3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.