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Too Many Children Left Behind: the US achievement gap in comparative perspective
21st Oct, CASE and LSE International Inequalities Institute public lecture

Date: Wednesday 21 October 2015
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue: Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House
Speaker:  Professor Jane Waldfogel
Chair: Professor Sir John Hills

The belief that with hard work and determination, all children have the opportunity to succeed in life is a cherished part of the American Dream. Yet, increased inequality in America has made that dream more difficult for many to obtain. In Too Many Children Left Behind, an international team of social scientists assesses how social mobility varies in the United States compared with Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Bruce Bradbury, Miles Corak, Jane Waldfogel, and Elizabeth Washbrook show that the academic achievement gap between disadvantaged American children and their more advantaged peers is far greater than in other wealthy countries, with serious consequences for their future life outcomes. With education the key to expanding opportunities for those born into low socioeconomic status families, Too Many Children Left Behind helps us better understand educational disparities and how to reduce them.

Jane Waldfogel is Compton Foundation Centennial Professor, Columbia University School of Social Work and Visiting Professor at CASE, LSE. She is co-author of Too Many Children Left Behind.

John Hills is Professor of Social Policy and Director of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) and Co-Director of the International Inequalities Institute at LSE.

The Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at LSE (@CASE_LSE) focuses on the exploration of different dimensions of social disadvantage, particularly from longitudinal and neighbourhood perspectives, and examination of the impact of public policy.

The new International Inequalities Institute at LSE (@LSEInequalities) brings together experts from many LSE departments and centres to provide co-ordination and strategic leadership for critical and cutting edge research and inter-disciplinary analysis of inequalities.

Suggested hashtag for this event for Twitter users: #LSEchildren

This event is free and open to all with no ticket or pre-registration required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis. For any queries see LSE Events FAQ or contact us at or 0207 955 6043.

News Posted: 24 August 2015      [Back to the Top]

Inequalities and disadvantage in London: Focus on Religion and Belief
New blog on research findings from Social Policy in a Cold Climate

In our comprehensive report on inequality and disadvantage in London published earlier this year, The Changing Anatomy of Economic Inequality in London (2007-2013), we provided a detailed picture of what happened to different population groups in London in the wake of the crisis and downturn.

In a series of blogs, hosted by research funders Trust for London, we are expanding that analysis by ‘drilling down’ into different aspects of inequality in London. The latest blog looks at key economic outcomes (wealth, unemployment, and wages – unfortunately a breakdown of London data on income is not available) by religion and belief.
News Posted: 20 August 2015      [Back to the Top]

Pension reforms since the financial crisis could have a serious impact on the future retirement incomes of young Europeans
Blog post by Aaron Grech

What effect has the financial crisis had on pension systems in EU countries? Aaron Grech notes that prior to the crisis there was a significant divergence in pensions across the EU, with some states having relatively generous systems in comparison to others. He writes that following the crisis, southern European states have had to substantially cut back on pensions, while other states in northern Europe have remained relatively unscathed. He argues that although it should still be possible for these systems to keep pensioners out of poverty, European policymakers will need to ensure a properly functioning labour market that provides opportunities for young Europeans. Continue reading at LSE British Politics and Policy blog.

News Posted: 16 August 2015      [Back to the Top]

Downward mobility, opportunity hoarding and the 'glass floor'
Abigail McKnight's new report for the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission

new report Downward mobility, opportunity hoarding and the ‘glass floor by Abigail McKnight has been published by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. It examines the evidence for a cohort of British children born in 1970 in terms of the relationship between family background, childhood cognitive skills and adult success in the labour market. In particular it considers the role of parents’ education, later childhood performance in reading and maths, social and emotional skills in childhood, type of secondary school attended and whether or not individuals go on to attain a degree.

The research finds that, on average, children from lower income families or those with less advantaged social class backgrounds do not perform as well in a series of cognitive tests taken at age 5 as children from higher income families or those from advantaged social class backgrounds. Children from more advantaged family backgrounds are more likely to have high earnings in later adult life and are more likely to be in a “top job”. This is not simply due to different levels of cognitive ability as it holds within attainment groups as well as over the complete distribution. Analysis is focused on a group of initially high attaining children and a group of initially low attaining children and follows their progress through to labour market outcomes at age 42.

The research identifies a number of factors that account for the fact that children from more affluent family backgrounds are more likely to be highly successful in the labour market as adults:  highly educated parents; higher maths skills age 10; stronger social and emotional skills age 10; greater likelihood of attending a Grammar or a Private secondary school; more likely to attain a degree level qualification.  The hoarding of opportunities by better-off families is likely to contribute to the reduced success of initially high attaining children from less advantaged families converting early potential into later labour market success.

Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institute, whose own research focusing on American social mobility has been influential, has written an interesting blog about this report.

As part of our Social Policy in a Cold Climate programme (SPCC) we have produced a summary of recent research on social mobility and education attainment based on research by Jo Blanden, Claire Crawford, Ellen Greaves, Paul Gregg, Lindsey Macmillan, Abigail McKnight, Luke Sibieta and Anna Vignoles.

A new working paper in this theme from the SPCC programme is now available: When and Why do Initially High Attaining Poor Children Fall Behind? by Claire Crawford, Lindsey Macmillan and Anna Vignoles.

More research on this theme is forthcoming in Autumn 2015. If you’d like to receive email updates sign up here.

News Posted: 17 July 2015      [Back to the Top]