The latest findings from our academic research
Related research by the Diversity and Productivity team:
Post-compulsory education pathways and labour market outcomes
Summary: We use sequence analysis to compare the different trajectories that individuals take through the education system and into work and identify the characteristics that could be used to target those who are at most risk of poorer labour market outcomes. As well as age 16 exam performance, we find that parental advice, aspirations, and attitudes towards HE are important predictors of the pathways through education and into work. However, these pathways are not strongly determined at the end of compulsory education, and thus there are still opportunities for individuals to change their trajectory even after leaving school.
Authors: A, Dickerson, E. McDool and Damon Morris (2022), Education Economics
A Level Economics is a gateway to the economics profession
Summary: The economics profession – and the current student population studying economics – is not representative of society, with women, some ethnic minorities, and state school students underrepresented. While more than 7% of private school boys doing an undergraduate degree were studying economics in 2018/19, less than 1% of state school girls were. We highlight that interventions aimed at changing this picture need to consider the choices students make early on in their educational career. A Level Economics is a key gateway to further study in the subject, but access to and take-up of this qualification varies substantially according to a student’s background. As a result, improving representation within the economics profession in the long-term must include steps to ensure young students understand what the subject involves and the opportunities it provides, and have the chance to study it before university.
Authors: A. Advani, S. Sen and R. Warwick (2021), IFS Observation
Gender differences in subject choice leads to gender pay gap immediately after graduation
Summary: The gender pay gap opens up immediately after graduation, with male graduates earning 5% more than female graduates on average at age 25. Ten years after graduation – before most graduates start having children – the gender pay gap stands at 25%. Most of the initial gap can be explained by university subject choices, with women less likely to study subjects that lead to high-paying jobs: women make up just a third of graduates in economics, the subject with the highest financial returns, and two thirds of graduates in creative arts, the subject with the lowest returns. Subject choice continues contribute to the gender pay gap over time, but its relative importance fades as other factors (like having children and working part-time) come into play.
Authors: A. Advani, S. Smith, B. Waltmann and X. Xu (2021), IFS Observation
The TRANSPARENT Framework
Summary: This study was carried out by Erika Brodnock and Dr Grace Lordan. The TRANSPARENT framework is the UK’s first cross-sector framework designed to remove the barriers blocking the progression of talented Black professional women in finance, professional services and big technology.
Authors: E. Brodnock, G. Lordan (2021)
The Good Finance Framework
Summary: This study was carried out by Dr Grace Lordan, Director of The Inclusion Initiative at London School of Economics (“LSE”). The study forms part of Accelerating Change Together (“ACT”) Research Programme designed and led by WIBF in partnership with The Inclusion Initiative at LSE and The Wisdom Council.
To understand the headwinds and tailwinds that women experience when working in financial and professional services, the study undertook a listening tour speaking with 44 women at various stages in their career.
The objective of this study is to use this information to create a framework comprised of actions that a company can take to ensure that they retain and develop their most talented employees, including women.
Authors: G. Lordan, Women in Banking and Finance, The Wisdom Council (2021)
Race Related Research in Economics and other Social Sciences
Summary: How does economics compare to other social sciences in its study of issues related to race and ethnicity? We assess this using a corpus of 500,000 academic publications in economics, political science, and sociology. Using an algorithmic approach to classify race-related publications, we document that economics lags far behind the other disciplines in the volume and share of race-related research, despite having higher absolute volumes of research output. Since 1960, there have been 13,000 race-related publications in sociology, 4,000 in political science, and 3,000 in economics. Since around 1970, the share of economics publications that are race-related has hovered just below 2% (although the share is higher in top-5 journals); in political science the share has been around 4% since the mid-1990s, while in sociology it has been above 6% since the 1960s and risen to over 12% in the last decade. Finally, using survey data collected from the Social Science Prediction Platform, we find economists tend to overestimate the amount of race-related research in all disciplines, but especially so in economics.
Authors: A. Advani, E. Ash, D. Cai and I. Rasul (2021), CAGE Working Paper 565 (forthcoming, Econometric Society Monograph Series)
The Accelerated Value of Social Skills in Knowledge Work and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Summary: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a debate around which skills will be the most valuable in its aftermath. This study discusses the relevance of social skills in this debate and presents new evidence that shows its necessity. Specifically, we focus on knowledge workers and highlight that the importance of social skills was increasing pre-COVID-19 for these workers and that this importance has increased further during the pandemic, particularly for those in management roles. This study has also emphasised that we are at the beginning of the learning curve in understanding how social skills can be taught effectively to adults, and in particular knowledge workers. Establishing this evidence base is particularly important as governments around the world reconsider their skills agenda as a way to build up their economies post COVID-19.
Authors: C. Josten, G. Lordan (2021) LSE Public Policy Review
The returns to undergraduate degrees by socio-economic group and ethnicity
Summary: We investigate differences in the returns to undergraduate degrees by socio-economic background and ethnicity using the Department for Education’s Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data set. The LEO data set links school records, university records and tax records for everyone who took GCSEs in England since 2002. Using these data, we can estimate returns up to age 30.
Authors: J. Britton, L. Dearden, B. Waltmann (2021) IFS
Ethnic diversity in UK economics
Summary: Economists are central to policymaking in the UK, and to providing the research that underpins that policymaking. Despite having this important role in society, economists are not very representative of society, with a well-documented under-representation of women in the profession. In this briefing note, we examine the ethnic diversity of academic economists who provide much of the research that ultimately feeds into policymaking. We use data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) to look at which groups are more or less well represented as academic economic researchers. We then examine economics students, to understand both the source of current under-representation and the prospects for change. Finally, we study some of the barriers faced by economics students. We are not able to examine diversity among the large number of economists who work outside academia, due to a lack of data.
Authors: A. Advani, S. Sen and R. Warwick (2020), IFS Briefing Note 307
Family Background and University Success: Differences in Higher Education Access and Outcomes in England
Summary: This book analyses why far fewer teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds go to university than do young people from better-off families, and how success after entering higher education also varies by family background. It draws on rigorous quantitative research based on a wealth of data from administrative records of the school and university system in England. Results are presented in clear, easy-to-read graphs.
Authors: C. Crawford, L. Dearden, J. Micklewright, and A. Vignoles (2016) Oxford University Press
Racial prejudice and labour market penalties during economic downturns
Summary: Do economic downturns encourage racist attitudes? Does this in-turn lead to worse labour market outcome for minorities? We assess these important questions using British attitude and labour force data. The attitude data show that racial prejudice is countercyclical, with the effect driven by large increases for high-skilled middle-aged working men – a 1%-point increase in unemployment is estimated to increase self-reported racial prejudice by 4%-points. Correspondingly, the labour force data show that racial employment and wage gaps are counter-cyclical, with the largest effects also observed for high-skilled men, especially in the manufacturing and construction industries – a 1%-point increase in unemployment is estimated to increase the wage gap by 3%. These results are entirely consistent with the theoretical literature, which proposes that racial prejudice and discrimination are the result of labour market competition among individuals with similar traits, and that the effects of this competition are exacerbated during periods of economic downturn.
Authors: D. Johnston, G. Lordan (2016) European Economic Review
Socio-economic, ethnic and gender differences in HE participation
Summary: Education is a key driver of intergenerational mobility, yet previous research has suggested that there are large socio-economic and ethnic gaps in higher education participation, including amongst the most selective institutions. Prior attainment has been found to be an important reason why some young people are more likely to go to university than others, but it is less clear which stage of education has the greatest impact on HE participation. This is vital from a policy perspective, as it provides insight into the best time to intervene to raise participation. This report uses linked individual-level administrative data from schools in England and universities in the UK to document the relationships between socio-economic status, ethnicity and HE participation, and explore what drives these relationships.
Authors: C. Crawford and E. Greaves (2015) Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Who Gets the Top Jobs? The Role of Family Background and Networks in Recent Graduates’ Access to High-status Professions
Summary: There is currently debate in policy circles about access to ‘the upper echelons of power’ (Sir John Major, ex Prime Minister, 2013). This research explores the relationship between family background and early access to top occupations. We find that privately educated graduates are a third more likely to enter into high-status occupations than state educated graduates from similarly affluent families and neighbourhoods, largely due to differences in educational attainment and university selection. We find that although the use of networks cannot account for the private school advantage, they provide an additional advantage and this varies by the type of top occupation that the graduate enters.
Authors: L. Macmillan, C. Tyler, A. Vignoles (2015) Journal of Social Policy