Inequalities round-up

Since there’s far more inequality-related research in the world than we can write about, we’ll occasionally just signpost things that we’ve stumbled across.  Today’s round-up includes Canadian and Chinese inequality trends, redefining poverty as a problem of parenting, and ‘whether the rich actually work for a living’…

  • Income inequality is apparently growing in Canada – where “the richest 1% took 32% of all growth in incomes between 1997 and 2007” – and also in China.
  • The Coalition Government in the UK has repeatedly said that it’s committed to tackling poverty – but judging from a government review by the (Labour) MP Frank Field, the problem of poverty is being redefined as about parenting not money.  I haven’t had a chance to read the review yet, but I did hear cries of pain coming from the childcare researcher who sits next to me…

The Govt welcomed the review, but some commentators were less enthusiastic.And we’re now likely to be deluged by research showing how parenting is less important than class, like this research here.

  • Meanwhile, new UK research shows that in-work child poverty is the highest on record – meaning that for every kid in a workless household in poverty, there are 1.4 kids in poverty who have a parent that works.  As media reports point out, this contradicts some of the implicit assumptions in Frank Field’s report.
  • The US National Archives have released named tax and income data from 1943 – which shows that “1941′s top executive at IBM, Thomas Watson, collected…about $7.7 million in current dollars. Watson paid 69 percent of [this] in federal income tax.” This is taken from Sam Pizzigati’s post on ‘A World of Progress’; let me know if you come across the direct source.
  • While the entire UK welfare system is being overhauled, there’s been some interesting pieces on how the proposed changes will imitate parts of the US system – and that this might not be a positive step.
  • Robert Frank’s WSJ blog flags research showing that more of the rich work for a living than they used to – or at least, that the incomes of the richest people come more from salaries than they used to.
  • Apparently the effect of HIV on economic growth is relatively small – but that the effect on inequality is considerable. (Again, I haven’t had a chance to read this paper in any detail yet, so let me know what you think…)
  • And finally, I’ve already talked about the difficulty of presenting data accurately but persuasively.  So I was deeply impressed by this visualization of the difference between Republican and Democrat tax cuts.

From Friday, though, we’ll be back to our usual staple of trying to join together these dots…


About Ben Baumberg Geiger

I am a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) at the University of Kent. I also helped set up the collaborative research blog Inequalities, where I write articles and short blog posts. I have a wide range of research interests, at the moment focusing on disability, the workplace, inequality, deservingness and the future of the benefits system, and the relationship between evidence and policy. You can find out more about me at
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One Response to Inequalities round-up

  1. John Holmes says:

    RE: Frank Field’s report. I have three major problems with this. Firstly, studies (e.g. Kiernan and Mensah in the British Educational Research Journal) have repeatedly shown that, whilst parenting accounts for a sizeable chunk of the effect of poverty on child development, around half of the effect still appears directly related to poverty. Solving ‘the parenting problem’ won’t stop poor kids having worse outcomes.

    Secondly, there’s little evidence that parenting interventions work particularly well. Field wants to teach parenting but it’s pretty uncertain whether that will a) be effective b) be possible to acccomodate in the curriculum c) be within the capacity of teachers to deliver with the necessary intensity (see the blundered attempts to introduce ICT to schools with little regard for teachers’ competence relative to pupils).

    Finally, whilst difference in parenting may explain why poor children do less well on average, it doesn’t necessarily follow that that poverty isn’t the underlying cause. Is it more plausible that, in many cases, the strains (psychological, financial and demographic) which poverty places on parents, their relationships with their children and their ability to educate, supervise and provide for their children will be unresponsive to parenting education and tough love?

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