New research on skills and poverty

A team of researchers at ISER has won funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to research the links between skills, poverty and inequality.

The six month £32k project will review existing theories relating skills to employment, poverty and inequality; estimate the impact of skills on earnings and employment; generate simulations of household income distribution in 2020 and use this to estimate poverty and income inequality.

Explaining the background to the project, Principal Investigator Mark Taylor said:

“The longer term aims of British governments have been to raise employment and reduce inequality and poverty through improving skills. This assumes that enhancing skills improves people’s employment prospects and incomes. However secondary effects are possible –increasing competition for high skilled jobs may, given limited supply of such jobs, induce a fall in relative wages, and could lead to highly skilled workers seeking low skilled jobs pushing less skilled workers out of employment.”

The researchers believe the project will be of interest to policy makers looking to tackle inequality. Mark added:

“Skills are an important route out of poverty and low income while skills and jobs foster economic prosperity. Despite this, income inequality and non-employment among the unskilled have risen, suggesting complex dynamics. A deeper understanding of links between skills, inequality and poverty is required to anticipate the impacts of the changing skill distribution in the UK.”

The research team, which also includes Steve Pudney and Tina Haux, plans to use data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and/or Family Resources Survey and will produce a report documenting theoretical and empirical literature on relationships between skills, employment, inequality and poverty; a report summarising research methods and results; and a summary findings document.


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