Understanding Inequalities

The Understanding Inequalities (UI) project is a three-year project led by the University of Edinburgh and funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. The UI research has two interconnected themes: the influence of space, place and concentration effects on inequalities; and stability and change in inequalities over the life course. Emer Smyth is co-director of the study and is leading on a strand of research on how early childhood experiences and outcomes impact on social inequalities in subsequent experiences and outcomes. National birth and child cohort studies provide rich data on the lives of children in their early and middle years, but to date these have been rarely used to explore the development of inequalities across the life course or to analyse cross-national differences. These studies also offer the potential to adopt a genuinely multi-dimensional approach to analysing 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 analysing intersectionality (e.g. the interplay between gender and social class, between ethnicity and parental education).

More information about the project is available here:

Summary Report: The Impact of Inequalities In The Early Years On Outcomes Over The Life Course

Understanding Inequalities held a symposium at the Scottish Parliament in 2019, 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. Speakers contributed to a summary report, which draws together the findings that were presented together with the policy discussions that followed.

The report includes a summary of research by Emer Smyth, ESRI, and Adriana Duta, University of Edinburgh. It is titled The transition to primary school: How family background and childcare experiences influence children’s skills on school entry.  It is available on page 6. 

The report is available to download here