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Project Aims

Funded under the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme Priority 7 (Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge Based Society), this project was designed to produce a European socio-economic Classification (ESEC) for use in comparative social science research across the EU. The strategic objectives addressed by the proposal were the integration and promotion of socio-economic research across the European Research Area.

Comparative analysis of many aspects of the quality of life and of social cohesion, for example health, living conditions and economic situation of Europe’s population, seeking to understand variation between member states, is hampered by the lack of an agreed, harmonised and validated classification of socio-economic positions. This project was designed to improve the state of the art in this area and to make demonstrable progress towards comparative research in a wide variety of areas relevant to the knowledge based society. These include the health, living conditions and labour market situation of men and women within Europe. By providing an essential comparative European research tool, the ESeC project also hoped to greatly facilitate subsequent analyses of intergenerational social mobility and the intergenerational inheritance of inequalities.

The two year programme of research and dissemination was a major collaborative effort by key actors in this area, most of whom have worked together before. Via a detailed programme of work designed to create a conceptually clear, validated and easily operationalized socio-economic classification for use in comparative European analyses, key policy and scientific issues relating to health and socio-economic inequalities have been addressed. Validation studies relating to the proposed European Socio-economic Classification (ESEC) included (inter alia) comparative analyses of health inequalities and analyses of labour market insecurity. This work also serves to improve the quality of public statistics in new member states and those EU member states that do not have national SECs.