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Understanding Inequalities: new thinking for public policy

last modified Jun 30, 2016 03:04 PM
A one-day conference bringing together researchers to discuss inequality from different disciplines and perspectives with a focus on public policy options to tackle persistent inequalities.

We had a hugely stimulating day at Trinity Hall on 25 May, which began with discussions on recent polling relating to public attitudes to inequality conducted by YouGov and a keynote delivered by former Secretary of State Sir Vince Cable. Through individual presentations and panel discussions, we uncovered the breadth and depth of research across the disciplines tackling the question of explaining and understanding inequality.

From population-level data and the international sustainable development goals to the use of local newspaper reports in relation to both child abuse and asbestos-related deaths, we learned about the ways in which different researchers understand and explain inequalities in different disciplines. 

Inequalities cut across all disciplines and fields, from health to education, to law, economics, history and development. We learned about how inequalities change and develop over time, what the public think about inequality, what factors explain inequalities in different contexts and what implications this has for policy makers. In some circumstances there were calls for national measures, such as in prioritizing policy goals in relation to development, in others listening to individual voices. 

We learned about the power of the state and institutions, in mitigating inequalities, and about the power of argument and discourse around inequality as well as a focus on 'what works' in relation to specific policy interventions. 

We thank all those who contributed including presenters, chairs, and early career researchers who displayed posters at the event. 

We hope to hold future events taking up the theme of inequality and encourage the research and policy community to follow up on conversations across disciplines in relation to this important societal issue. 

Read Vince Cable's speech here

Listen to the audio from the conference here

Slides from the conference can be downloaded here: 

New polling on public attitudes to inequality
Laurence Janta-Lipinski, Associate Director, YouGov

Colonial-modern legacies of development and public policy
Sarah Radcliffe, Department of Geography

Corporate governance, shareholder value and worker rights
Simon Deakin, Centre for Business Research

Inequalities and the history of child sexual abuse
Lucy Delap, Faculty of History

Social spending and health outcomes
Alex Sutherland, RAND Europe and Jennifer Rubin, King’s College London

A sociological and historical perspective on health inequalities: implications for current policy debates
Mike Kelly, Institute of Public Health and Simon Szreter, Faculty of History

Measuring inequalities in learning across and within countries in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals: lessons for policy
Pauline Rose, Ben Alcott, Sonia Ilie, Ricardo Sabates, Research for Equitable Access and Learning Centre

Do inequities in neighbourhood food environments contribute to inequalities in diet and health? 
Pablo Monsivais, PhD, MPH

Youth precarity and inequitable transitions
Geoff Hayward, Faculty of Education

Potential for development through education and employment
Kai Ruggeri, Department of Psychology

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About Us

We aim to support public policy research across Cambridge University, working with colleagues in science, social science, the arts and humanities, to apply new thinking to public policy problems and promote research and analysis into the public policy process. We hope to connect and raise the profile of existing public policy related work across the University and support collaborative research that includes policy development in a range of subject areas. 

Contact us if you are interested in joining the initiative or would like to know more.