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Shaping policy, changing our world Social sciences research 1

Our internationally respected researchers are generating fresh insights into some of the big issues facing today’s society, such as migration, economic uncertainty, political disengagement and demographic change. From Westminster to urban China, our projects span the globe and examine diverse topics, including the implications of change in the workplace, ways to improve population forecasting and the effectiveness of maternal health services in the developing world. What they all share is a focus on impact. By providing crucial evidence for decision-makers and influencing policy in the UK and worldwide, our research is making a real difference to people’s lives. We promote a dynamic research environment, supported by ongoing investment into state-of-the-art facilities such as high-performance computing, a behavioural economics lab and Bloomberg terminals for real-time financial market data. Our researchers work across five divisions – Economics; Demography and Social Statistics; Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology; Gerontology; and Politics and International Relations. They are also involved in cross-disciplinary work in a number of specialist research centres, including centres funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. You’ll find more information about our research centres on page 23. I hope this report gives you an insight into the impact we are making through social sciences research. You can discover more by visiting our website, Professor Jane Falkingham, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences







In this publication Making a global impact Improving reproductive health services in China Inequality and wellbeing among China’s economic migrants Improving the health of mothers and children Measuring older people’s wellbeing worldwide

4 4 5 6 7

Resilience and ageing in Nairobi’s slums


Measuring the social world Revamping official statistics on migration and population Poverty mapping: innovations in small area estimation

8 8 9

Understanding and influencing behaviour Responding to political disaffection Shaping change in civic behaviour Finding out what works in crime reduction Helping in the fight to save energy Examining the role of parliamentary select committees The Olympics and risk management

10 10 11 12 12 13 13

Challenging myths about migration The benefits of temporary migration Pension prospects for European migrants

14 14 15

Changing the workplace Understanding organisational change Older healthcare workers and new technology

16 16 17

Preparing for an ageing society Examining the impact of an ageing population Ethnicity and pension protection

18 19 19

Providing the bigger economic picture Informing global labour market policies Towards a healthy future

20 20 21

Examining the way we live Changing living arrangements

22 22

Research centres



Improving reproductive health services in China Robust scientific data generated by Southampton demographers and social statisticians are benefiting millions of people in China by informing the development of high-quality, clientoriented family planning and sexual health services without any discrimination or coercion. The researchers have been monitoring and evaluating large-scale programmes run by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) across eastern, central and western China over the last 14 years, providing the evidence base for significant policy changes by Chinese government ministries and UNFPA. Tackling discrimination After years of enforcing a rigorous family planning policy that restricted couples in urban areas to only one child, the Chinese government wanted to enable people to make informed reproductive health and family planning choices through clientcentred services without any discrimination or influence from health authorities. With UNFPA, it put in place a series of programmes to improve access to quality services, with an emphasis on human rights rather than demographic goals. However, no systematic method of evaluating the impact of these programmes was in place and UN member states insisted on a comprehensive evaluation before committing further resources. Researchers from Social Statistics and Demography were therefore invited to lead an independent research programme, working with research institutions under the Chinese ministries to scientifically evaluate the programmes’ impact. Changing attitudes The UNFPA Sixth Country Programme (CP6) built on previous programmes (CP4 and CP5) to improve access to quality reproductive health services, with the aim of promoting awareness and reducing stigma related to HIV/AIDS, changing attitudes towards young people’s risky sexual behaviour and improving women’s status and gender equity.

After analysing the CP4 and CP5 programmes, the research team evaluated the CP6 programme, gathering evidence through statistically robust population surveys and field research in areas within and outside the programme. Their analysis revealed a clear shift in attitudes among health providers, an improvement in people’s knowledge of reproductive health and family planning and significant improvements in contraceptive choices. It also identified gaps in service standards to be addressed by future programmes. International reach The research has resulted in significant policy changes in China. These include the revision of in-service training modules to include genderbased reproductive health and family planning information as well as counselling, referral and treatment services for people with HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Post-abortion care guidelines have also been amended to provide a better service for women and couples. The UN programme has been extended nationwide, giving 754 million Chinese men and women of reproductive age access to family planning methods of their choice without coercion or discrimination from service providers. The team’s survey methods have also been replicated in a similar programme in North Korea and members of the team have been in discussions about whether lessons from China could be applied in Africa, particularly in conflict regions such as Sierra Leone and Rwanda.

Making a global impact

“The Southampton team’s analysis over the past decade has benefited millions of Chinese people by generating robust scientific evidence to inform significant policy changes by Chinese ministries and the UN Population Fund.”


 abu Padmadas, S Professor of Demography and Global Health

Making a global impact

Inequality and wellbeing among China’s economic migrants Recent decades have seen unprecedented growth in China’s economy, but this has caused considerable population challenges in cities and urban areas, exacerbated by the mass movement of economic migrants from rural areas. Southampton researchers, led by Professor Sabu Padmadas, worked with colleagues from the China Population Development Research Centre, the Institute for Population and Labour Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Nanjing University to investigate the socioeconomic and gender inequalities affecting different migrant groups and how these impacted on people’s health behaviours and wellbeing.

The project, which was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, engaged policymakers from a range of organisations in order to maximise the social and economic impact of its findings. It is one of a number of collaborative Southampton studies investigating causes of social and health inequality in countries including Brazil, South Africa and India.


Improving the health of mothers and children Social Sciences researchers are making a significant contribution to better maternal and child health policies in the developing world, with the aim of reducing preventable deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth. Worldwide, around 800 women die every day from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, the majority from developing regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In addition, every day more than 13,000 newborn babies and infants die needlessly.

Nyovani Madise, Professor of Demography and Social Statistics

Pioneering research conducted over the past two decades by the University’s Centre for Global Health, Population, Poverty and Policy (GHP3) is playing a crucial role in improving the chances of mothers and babies in developing countries by informing maternal health policies nationally and internationally. Led by Zoe Matthews, Professor of Global Health and Social Statistics, and Nyovani Madise, Professor of Demography and Social Statistics, the research team explored the provision of maternal health services for women in urban and rural communities in the developing world, including studies focusing on slums in Nairobi, Kenya and Mumbai, India.

Zoe Matthews, Professor of Global Health and Social Statistics

Making a global impact


“Our findings have informed policy and funding priorities at national and international organisations including the Department for International Development and the United Nations.”

Making a global impact

The research is having a significant impact worldwide, with organisations such as the Department for International Development (DFID) and the United Nations using the findings to inform policy and funding priorities. New DFID funding will see the team working with researchers and governments in six African countries to translate their research evidence into policies and actions to improve women’s and children’s health.

Measuring older people’s wellbeing worldwide A Southampton researcher, working with HelpAge International and a group of experts from around the world, has developed the first index to measure the wellbeing of older people on a worldwide scale.

Asghar Zaidi, Professor in International Social Policy, worked on the Global AgeWatch Index which compares the experiences of older people from 91 countries. Focusing on factors such as income security, health status, social opportunities through employment and education, and enabling agefriendly environments, the index ranks the countries according to the wellbeing and quality of life of the current generation of older people. Currently Sweden, Norway and Germany are at the top of the ranking, with Pakistan, Tanzania and Afghanistan at the very bottom.

© Kate Holt/HelpAge International

The aim is to use the data to build a strong case for better policies and services to improve the lives of older people, particularly those in developing countries. The project is supported by the United Nations Population Fund, and it will continue to generate evidence for additional countries in the future.

Resilience and ageing in Nairobi’s slums Social Sciences researchers are engaged in a collaborative study that seeks to improve the lives of older people living in the slums of Nairobi – one of the world’s poorest urban areas.

They are investigating people’s ability to cope with stresses and shocks to find out why some people are better able to adapt than others and emerge with better health and socioeconomic outcomes and overall wellbeing. Southampton researchers, led by Professor Maria Evandrou, are working in collaboration with partners in the Africa Population and Health Research Centre in Nairobi and with HelpAge Kenya to make sure that the project’s findings feed through to inform policy interventions. The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Department for International Development.


Revamping official statistics on migration and population A model developed by demographers and social statisticians at Southampton is helping national organisations to tackle the challenge of producing reliable population estimates and forecasts. Accurate information about the size and movements of populations is crucial for policymakers at local, national and international level. They need reliable data to inform decisions about a range of issues, from funding for infrastructure and amenities to strategic planning. However, at European Union level the study of international migration has been hindered by problems with data availability, quality and consistency. To address this problem, researchers from the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute and the ESRC’s Centre for Population Change joined forces to seek a reliable, useable solution.

Measuring the social world


They investigated the problems government bodies faced when trying to accurately estimate and predict population changes, working with them to significantly improve the way they use and understand the available statistics. As part

of a three-year project, Migration Modelling for Statistical Analyses (MIMOSA), the team developed a modelling approach which, for the first time, could produce consistent estimates of international migration between countries in Europe and reconstruct missing data. Related projects showed how statistical modelling could overcome data limitations to produce more reliable and detailed migration estimates and forecasts, and how administrative sources like student registers, NHS registers and National Insurance data could supplement traditional survey data used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The research is already having a significant impact on policymaking in the UK and has become an integral part of ONS operations. It was also highlighted in Migration Statistics: The Way Ahead?, a report by the UK Statistics Authority, and the team recently submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee’s inquiry into international migration and asylum statistics.

“The team developed a modelling approach which, for the first time, could produce consistent estimates of international migration between countries in Europe.” Dr Jakub Bijak, Lecturer in Demography

Measuring the social world

Poverty mapping: innovations in small area estimation Southampton statisticians have designed methodologies that have been adopted in the UK and around the world to produce high-quality statistics about small geographical areas. “The estimation of social and economic indicators is essential for targeted implementation of policies,” explains Nikos Tzavidis, Associate Professor in Social Statistics. “In order to deliver really effective policies, leaders need a detailed picture that goes beyond national estimates and drills down to small areas.”

The research is also having impact around the globe. It is being used by Mexico’s National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy to gain an unprecedented statistical picture of the country’s most pressing social development problems and to design more effective and efficient social programmes. Techniques developed at S3RI are also being studied in the Netherlands to investigate the production of improved business data statistics.

Nikos is part of a research team from the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute (S3RI) that is using pioneering methods to develop accessible methodologies that can estimate these key small area indicators. The first phase of the research, conducted as part of a European Commission project, looked at the development of techniques to estimate unemployment levels at a small area level. Over the years further methods have been developed for estimating averages, distributions and poverty indicators. These novel developments are all supported by accessible software. The team’s methods have been adopted thanks to its partnership with the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Its studies have been shared with the Department for Work and Pensions, the Greater London Authority, various local authorities and government departments and with academics and students.


Responding to political disaffection Political disaffection is a growing problem in the UK and worldwide, with political parties and think tanks struggling to find ways to tackle anti-political sentiment. Research at Southampton is helping governmental and non-governmental organisations to understand how they can respond to citizens’ disenchantment and encourage participation in the political process. Gerry Stoker, Professor of Governance and Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Globalization and Governance (C2G2), worked with colleagues to study the role of citizens within their local communities, how they made decisions and how they ran community facilities or regeneration projects. The study identified six mechanisms that support community self-rule – asset transfer, citizen governance, electronic participation, participatory budgeting, petitions and redress. The results further developed an understanding of what appeared to be public cynicism towards politics, with a central source of disaffection being the belief that too many politicians are self-serving. There was also a fear that special interest groups dominate political decision-making and a perception that the role of the tabloid media confirmed a sense of anti-politics among citizens.

Understanding and influencing behaviour


The researchers also explored citizens’ ideas for reform and discovered a popular perception that more open and responsive government could persuade many voters, and younger people in particular, to engage actively in politics. The findings are making a difference to the ways in which governments in the UK and other countries are trying to engage and empower their citizens. For example, the research recommendations on empowering communities were a key part of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 and are widely read and used by the UK civil service. Findings on the causes of political disenchantment have been presented to the Australian and New Zealand School of Government and to leading politicians and civil servants at the House of Representatives in Tokyo, Japan.

Shaping change in civic behaviour What motivates people to change their behaviour and engage with the policies that affect their lives? Governance and politics experts at Southampton have been exploring this question, shedding new light on civic behaviour and how it can be promoted for the benefit of the wider community.

Governments and organisations in the UK and around the world face the challenge of changing people’s behaviour in different aspects of their lives – from tackling obesity and carbon reduction, to increasing recycling and community safety. Another C2G2 study is generating new insights into the most effective drivers for change and how organisations can influence people and make a difference to their actions. The research built on previous work investigating the importance of two ideas that relate to changing and promoting civic behaviour – nudge concepts, where small incentives, social cues and peer pressure are used to influence behaviour, and think strategies, where people are asked to reflect upon and discuss information.

“The team used experimental methods to gather robust evaluations of how different interventions could be used to change people’s behaviour in a variety of areas including recycling, petitioning, voting and volunteering,” explains Gerry. Working with local authorities, the NHS and voluntary organisations, the researchers carried out a number of field-based, large-scale experiments that demonstrated how different techniques work in practice and how they can be made more effective. The research has influenced the UK government’s approach to the concept of the Big Society and has helped shape the debate on behaviour change and how it relates to public sector reform in the UK and other countries. The importance of the work in shaping policy in this field has also been recognised in Australia and New Zealand. /socsci/civic_behaviour

“Political disaffection is a growing problem in the UK and around the world. Government and nongovernmental organisations globally are facing an increasing challenge to keep their citizens engaged and participating in the political arena.” Gerry Stoker, 

Professor of Governance


Finding out what works in crime reduction Southampton is a key player in a new consortium of eight universities examining the most effective ways to reduce crime. The What Works Centre for Crime Reduction is part of a world-leading network of centres to guide decisionmaking in public services.

The Centre aims to build an evidence base to help practitioners and decision-makers make the best decisions on how to reduce crime. As well as generating guidance and tools, the consortium will raise public awareness of successful crime reduction methods, highlight areas for further research and inform national debates on effective crime reduction policies. Professor Jenny Fleming, the consortium’s Southampton lead, says: “The University of Southampton has a wealth of expertise to bring to this consortium. Our interdisciplinary research hub, the Institute of Criminal Justice Research, involves colleagues of all disciplines whose research interests include or complement criminal justice studies.” The Centre is a three-year partnership between the Economic and Social Research Council and the College of Policing.

Helping in the fight to save energy Academics from Social Sciences and Civil Engineering and Environment at Southampton are part of a cross-disciplinary team investigating the effectiveness of community-led energy saving programmes.

Understanding and influencing behaviour


With colleagues from the universities of Reading and Westminster, the researchers are examining whether schemes run by community organisations can influence people’s behaviour to reduce their energy consumption, which would in turn help meet ambitious national targets for reduced carbon dioxide emissions. The study will compare two groups of Hampshire householders – a control group and an intervention group that is involved in regular community-run energy saving workshops. Dr Milena Büchs, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy, says: “The outcomes of the research will be of major interest to community organisations promoting pro-environmental behaviours, as well as to the UK government that has made considerable investment into community-led climate change and energy saving programmes.” The study is part of a cross-disciplinary programme funded by Research Councils UK.

Examining the role of parliamentary select committees A Southampton researcher with a special interest in the workings of Westminster politics is putting the role of select committees in the House of Commons under the spotlight.

Dr Alexandra Kelso, Senior Lecturer in Politics, is playing a key role in analysing the effectiveness of departmental select committees in holding the government to account. The research uses insights from group processes in social psychology to examine how MPs from different political parties, who frequently battle against each other in the House of Commons and the media, manage to work together within all-party select committee environments.

The findings of the study, which is part of a threeyear Economic and Social Research Council-funded project, will develop a greater understanding of how MPs work together to deliver useful scrutiny ‘outputs’ and inform debates on future select committee reform.

“Through extensive interviews with MPs, parliamentary clerks, committee special advisors and others, we are examining how MPs from different parties work together within all-party select committee environments.” Dr Alexandra Kelso, Senior Lecturer in Politics

The Olympics and risk management Southampton is at the leading edge of research into the governance and risk management of large-scale sporting events.

Dr Will Jennings, Reader in Politics and International Relations, has studied the organisation of Olympic games from the early 1900s to the present day, tracing the development of risk mitigation approaches in relation to security but also health, financial and reputational risk. Olympics organisers traditionally focused on reacting and recovering from incidents using tools such as insurance, safety plans, and command and control structures. However, since the 1980s,

organising committees have increasingly integrated risk management into decision-making and operations and have invested in teams and systems dedicated to the management of risk through internal controls. Will comments: “As Olympics committees have become more sophisticated in risk management over the past 30 years, the broader discipline and profession of risk management has benefited from its example.”


The benefits of temporary migration Research by a Southampton economist has challenged the popular belief that temporary migration has a detrimental effect on the home countries of those who go abroad to work. The research has led to a reassessment of policies relating to temporary labour migration on a national and international level.

Challenging myths Challenging mythsabout aboutmigration migration


It is a widely held view that emigration of skilled workers has a negative impact on the home countries of migrants, with developing countries investing scarce resources into the education of people who then go abroad, leaving their countries under-skilled and poor. However, a study by Professor Jackline Wahba, Professor of Economics, was one of the first to challenge this notion by showing that temporary migration can bring multiple benefits to migrants’ home countries. Investment and enterprise Jackline studied the labour market experiences of Egyptians who migrated to rich Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and then returned to Egypt. She found that uneducated people returning to their home countries had a markedly positive impact on the economy. As well as increasing investment in the country by 15 per cent, migrants returned with savings that enabled them to set up their own businesses, which would not have been possible if they hadn’t migrated. The research showed that migrants used the knowledge and experience they gained abroad to set up enterprises at home, creating jobs for local people with greater emphasis on workers’ rights, such as sick leave and holiday pay. It also revealed that when migrants came home they enjoyed a wage premium, often earning up to 38 per cent more than non-migrants.

Jackline comments: “The findings show that it is important for ‘labour sending’ developing countries to put policies in place to maximise these benefits and strengthen their relationship with their migrant communities, so that migrants can become more involved in the economic life of their home country.” Global impact The research has led to a reassessment of migration policies on a national and international level and has influenced the policy of several international organisations. The World Bank drew on Jackline’s work to support the Egyptian government in its negotiations with the European Union on temporary labour migration. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development cited the research as a key reason to encourage temporary migration and consulted with Jackline on the development of policies that would help countries maximise the benefits of their return migrants and the investment they bring. The International Labour Organisation also based policy recommendations on this research, suggesting that the Egyptian government set up online services and offer tax breaks to return migrants.

Pension prospects for European migrants Research into European Union (EU) migration and pension costs has found that the large numbers of EU workers who have moved in recent years from eastern Europe to the west are likely to be better off on retirement in the west than their counterparts staying in the east.

This contradicts previous research in the field, which suggested that mobile workers face significant pension costs because EU pension regulations are too lax. Social policy researchers Caroline Andow, Dr Paul Bridgen and Dr Traute Meyer found that workers migrating from east to west Europe are better protected against poverty thanks to more generous pension system principles and higher wages in their

adopted country. However, they also found that some workers moving between countries of similar wealth are more vulnerable to pension losses. The results indicate that researchers who want to assess whether migration leads to pension loss for individuals must take into account the design of pension systems and the differing wealth levels of migrants’ home and host countries.


Understanding organisational change The introduction of new technologies, increased workforce mobility, spending cuts and workers’ shifting expectations are just some of the factors driving change in today’s workplace. Research by sociologists at Southampton is helping employers and policymakers understand and respond to these changes and contributing to the design of management change processes and policies. A range of research projects at the University’s Work Futures Research Centre, led by Professor Susan Halford and Professor Pauline Leonard, has been examining the impact of workplace change on the organisation and delivery of services and on people’s experience of work. The implications of change

Changing the workplace


Equality at work The Centre’s research has also revealed sustained inequalities in the workplace, despite legislative and cultural change. Racism remains manifest in access to training and careers within the health services and gender pay inequalities and discrimination persist across the private, public and third sectors.

Research investigating the growing use of technology in the health sector showed how the work required to make new technological systems function effectively in the workplace was considerable and could vary from place to place. Innovations such as telemedicine, electronic booking and large scale information systems were not quick or cheap technical fixes for current funding constraints and had an impact on the professional and organisational aspects of healthcare work.

Making an impact

Another study looking at workplace design showed that the configuration of office space had a significant bearing on individuals’ motivation, working relationships and wellbeing. Initiatives designed to promote sustainability were generally supported by employees but effective communication was crucial – without it, people could perceive changes to their workspace as motivated by financial rather than environmental concerns.

The workplace design research forms part of the British Council for Offices web-based research evidence base that is used by commercial property developers, architects, property tenants, facilities managers and senior managers. It has been adopted by construction engineers in the management of effective sustainable working practices and was published in Government Today and Public Servant.

Professor Susan Halford

The research has had a direct impact on organisations’ understanding and management of workplace issues. For example, the findings on the effect of race and racism on medical careers has framed British Medical Association good practice guidelines, while the study into the impact of increasing digitisation has played an integral part in the introduction of the Department of Health’s new national 111 service that is set to replace NHS Direct.

Professor Pauline Leonard

Older healthcare workers and new technology Researchers from Southampton and Norway have teamed up to investigate the impact of technology in healthcare on an ageing workforce. Technological innovation is seen as one solution to the various challenges facing healthcare systems. However, studies in other sectors have shown that employees are more likely to take early retirement where there is rapid technological change. This is a particular concern in the healthcare sector, which faces high levels of early retirement among nurses alongside an increasing demand for health services. The researchers found that technology itself was not a particular cause of stress or early retirement, and that older nurses are competent and often keen to adopt new technologies. However, there were issues with the way new technologies were introduced, the level of support and training given and the effect of physical aspects of ageing on people’s abilities.

The research findings will be disseminated in Norway and the UK to shape employment practice and encourage the development of strategies to support older workers. The project was a collaboration between Southampton’s Work Futures Research Centre and the University of Nordland, Norway, working with NORUT (Northern Research Institute) and the University of Tromso, Norway.


Preparing for an ageing society


Examining the impact of an ageing population The growth of an ageing population raises significant challenges for governments and policymakers around the globe. Researchers at the University of Southampton are playing a pivotal role in exploring the impact of this demographic shift on individuals and society. By 2050, the number of older people worldwide will exceed two billion, with the older population increasingly concentrated in developing countries. In the UK, people aged 60 and over currently constitute 23 per cent of the population; by 2050 this will have risen to 30 per cent. In the context of this demographic trend, research at two Southampton centres is contributing to the cultural and policy understanding of ageing, intergenerational relations and the life course. Studies at the Centre for Research on Ageing (CRA) and ESRC Centre for Population Change (CPC) aim to help ensure that countries across the globe are prepared to provide for the future demands of an ageing population. Mapping future demand One significant element of the centres’ work is the Care Life Cycle project, a five-year study funded by a £3m Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council grant. Together, the CPC and CRA are leading a multidisciplinary team of researchers from social sciences, management science and complexity science who are developing a suite of models to map the future demand and supply of health and social care in the UK. The models will help national and local government decision-makers to understand the complex interactions between formal public sector care provision and informal family provision, which will in turn help them to plan for the future.

Exchanging knowledge Beyond the UK, a successful bid by the CPC for European Commission funding will see the establishment of Population Europe, a knowledge exchange platform that will promote understanding of demographic change in Europe. Members of the CPC have also actively participated in a series of knowledge exchange events for influential decisionmakers and eminent scholars. Changing attitudes A CRA project helped to challenge attitudes to ageing by contributing to the creative process of a play, On Ageing, that was staged at the 40th birthday celebrations of the Young Vic theatre in London. The show was a narrative by older people performed by children aged between seven and 11 years. Alongside the performance, the CRA also hosted a symposium for more than 100 members of the public to engage directly with social science researchers. They evaluated the whole process and circulated an online questionnaire to the play’s audience. The work of both centres continues to stimulate dialogue between researchers, policymakers and the general public, and has enhanced cultural and policy understanding of ageing-related issues.

Ethnicity and pension protection Demographers and gerontologists from Social Sciences are analysing data from two major social surveys to assess the pension prospects of current and future groups from ethnic minority communities in Britain. Preliminary results show that, even allowing for other demographic and socioeconomic variables, ethnicity is a strong determinant of a younger person’s chances of being a member of an occupational pension scheme, and of the likelihood of an older person receiving any pension income, whether private or state-funded.

Maria Evandrou, Professor of Gerontology and Director of the Centre for Research on Ageing

“By 2045, for the first time in human history, the number of people aged 60 and over will exceed the number of children aged under 16.” Jane Falkingham, Professor of Demography and International Social Policy

Further work will examine the extent and nature of the effect of ethnicity and inform policy initiatives for people from traditional minority ethnic groups as well as those from countries such as Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Principal Investigator Dr Athina Vlachantoni says: “These migrants form a ‘new’ type of minority in the UK, whose employment patterns, as well as welfare needs, may be different to those of traditional minority groups such as the Indian, Pakistani, black Caribbean and Bangladeshi communities.”


Informing global labour market policies Labour market policies play an influential role in countries’ economies, so an understanding of the effects of such policies is crucial, particularly in the current economic climate. Research conducted by Southampton economist Dr Mirco Tonin has generated new insights into the impact of a range of labour market policies, informing decision-making by governments and institutions nationally and internationally.

Providing the bigger economic picture


Dr Mirco Tonin, Senior Lecturer in Economics

Mirco’s exploration of the relationship between the minimum wage and tax evasion showed that, contrary to the commonly held view, introducing or increasing the minimum wage can actually reduce workers’ disposable income in some environments. “In developing and transition countries, people often under-report earnings in order to avoid paying tax on them,” Mirco explains. “When minimum wage legislation is passed there may be a significant rise in declared earnings, but workers may actually be losing income as they swap undeclared earnings for declared, taxable ones.” Another study looking at in-work benefits showed that universal tax credits can be more effective than targeted ones in fighting unemployment and encouraging participation in the labour market. Mirco’s research also found evidence of a correlation between weaker employment protection legislation and the trend in many countries across the European Union of shorter tenure among young workers.

Mirco has also investigated workers’ altruistic motivations. An experiment that connected workers’ compensation to charity through a monetary donation revealed that women increased their effort due to the sense of satisfaction they gained from charitable giving, whereas this generally had no effect on men. The research has shaped policy and recommendations at major global and government institutions including the World Bank, the International Labour Organisation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the UK Cabinet Office and Sweden’s Fiscal Policy Council.

Dr Carmine Ornaghi, Senior Lecturer in Economics

Towards a healthy future “Economists in Southampton have been examining the effects of mergers and acquisitions on organisations’ research efforts and outputs in the UK pharmaceutical industry.” Dr Carmine Ornaghi

Groundbreaking research by economists at Southampton into innovation and competition in the pharmaceutical industry is making an important contribution to policy debates in Europe and the US. The results point to the need for better policies to sustain this thriving industry and deliver high-quality, affordable medicines. The UK pharmaceutical industry is a commercial success story; it employs 70,000 people and has an excellent track record for innovation. However, drugs are also a considerable national expense, which puts the UK government under increasing pressure to sustain innovation and give patients affordable access to the best treatments.

Another study showed that firms with lower quality drugs benefit more from advertising and this advertising can increase the price of the drugs. This suggests that advertising can act as a barrier to innovation and that if advertising expenditure was controlled more tightly it could free up funds for research and reduce the NHS drug bill.

To help inform policy in this area, research led by Dr Carmine Ornaghi has explored a range of issues including the role of mergers and acquisitions on innovation. The result of this study – one of the first and most exhaustive of its kind – suggested that mergers generally have a negative effect on research because companies may look to acquire firms with similar technology and drug portfolios, leading to higher prices and less incentive to innovate.

Carmine’s work brings an important new perspective to policy debates on both sides of the Atlantic. His research has informed a paper by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and has been cited by several economists working for the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice. Carmine has also been invited by the Department of Health of Cataluna, Spain, to discuss how to reform the finance and access of new prescription drugs.


Changing living arrangements Factors such as economic pressures, migration and a move away from ‘traditional’ family expectations are changing the way we live. Social Sciences researchers are examining these changes and their implications in order to inform social policy. Young adults and independent living Demographer Professor Ann Berrington is leading a study at Southampton’s ESRC Centre for Population Change (CPC) on the living arrangements of young adults. The study builds on previous CPC research which revealed that young people’s success in achieving independent living can relate to their education, employment and parental backgrounds. These factors, as well as the increased immigration of foreign-born young adults, are having a significant effect on how young people live. The new study will inform policies such as welfare reform, regulation of the private rented sector and access to credit for first-time buyers. Wellbeing in later life CPC research is also examining changes in living arrangements for older people. One study, led by Professor Jane Falkingham, explored factors associated with older people moving into residential and sheltered accommodation to understand the effects on quality of life and on care provision. Another investigated how pathways into living alone affect people’s mental health. “The findings suggest that living alone in later life is not in itself a risk factor for psychological distress, and the negative effects of a move to living alone on mental health tend to be transient,” says Jane. Changing obligations The timing of parental marital disruption and how this influences adult children’s sense of obligation to care for their parents in later life is the subject of another CPC study. The findings challenged commonly held views, revealing that people who were middle-aged when their parents divorced tended to feel less obliged to care for their parents than those who were children when their parents divorced. The study raises questions about whether society can continue to rely on the family as the main source of care for older people in future, a question that will be examined further using data from a large national survey.

Examining the way we live


Research centres Our world-leading research is facilitated by a number of interdisciplinary centres and programmes, including: Centre for Research on Ageing An international and multidisciplinary research centre examining key issues in ageing and the life course, informing policy and debate at national and local level.

ESRC Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) A partnership between Southampton and the University of Birmingham, TSRC aims to provide a better understanding of the value of the third sector and how this can be maximised.

Centre for Citizenship, Globalization and Governance (C2G2) Merging insights from political science and international relations, C2G2 focuses on the central political questions of today’s world about power, cooperation, security, inequality and democracy.

EPSRC Care Life Cycle Research Programme This cross-disciplinary programme is the first to deal comprehensively with the factors affecting both the supply and demand of health and social care in the context of an ageing population. It is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Centre for Global Health, Population, Poverty and Policy (GHP3) GHP3 brings together social scientists from across a range of disciplines to examine the interrelationships between health, population and poverty at societal and individual level. ESRC Administrative Data Research Centre for England Part of a UK-wide network funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Centre will make routinely collected administrative data accessible for research. ESRC Centre for Population Change The UK’s first research centre on population change, the Centre brings together expertise from five UK universities, the National Records of Scotland and the Office for National Statistics. ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) NCRM aims to promote a step change in the quality and range of methodological skills and techniques used by the UK social science community and to support methodological innovation in the UK.

Institute of Criminal Justice Research An interdisciplinary hub for researchers at the University and from other institutions whose interests include or complement criminal justice studies. Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute (S3RI) One of the largest groups of statisticians in the UK, S3RI develops and applies cutting-edge methodologies and analytical techniques to add meaning to data for a range of applications. Work Futures Research Centre Bringing together eminent academics from across the University’s disciplines, the Centre conducts research into the implications of economic, policy and social change on work, employers, social groups and individuals.

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University of Southampton social sciences research  

From Westminster to urban China, our projects span the globe and examine diverse topics, including the implications of change in the workpla...

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