Understanding Society Research Conference

Wednesday 24 July to Friday 26 July, 2013

University of Essex, Colchester, UK





Abstracts











Contents

Linking life events and stated reasons for moving over the life course 1
Residential mobility decisions amongst the white UK-born population and ethnic diversity 2
The process of socio-economic constraint on geographical mobility: England 1991 to 2008. 3
The Amenity Value of the British Climate 4
Does Sunshine make you Happy? Subjective Measures of Well-Being and the Weather: Evidence from the UK Panel Data 5
Green, Healthy and Happy 6
The impact of local labour market conditions on school leaving decisions 7
Identification of the Union Wage Impact using Panel Data: The British Case During 1995-2009 8
Psychological distress of union dissolution: What does the average effect hide? 9
Living alone and psychological well-being in late mid-life: does partnership history matter? 10
Cohabitation or Marriage? The socioeconomic and family characteristics of first union formation among men and women in Britain. 11
Working too much? 12
How does working time affect subjective well-being?: British evidence 13
Residential mobility and socio-spatial inequalities in health between neighbourhoods: Why do people in BHPS move to unhealthy areas? 14
Does early-life income inequality predict later-life self-reported health? Evidence from three countries 15
Places and preferences: A Longitudinal Analysis of Self-Selection and Contextual Effects 16
Plans for Immigrant and Ethnic Minority Boost Sample 17
Handling Attrition and Non-Response in the 1970 British Cohort Study. 18
Understanding survey attrition among immigrants in wave 2 of Understanding Society 19
Latent Class models to describe the profiles of different groups of drop-outs in the British Household Panel Survey 20
Use of Different Preventative Health Check-Ups in UK: A Comparison with Dynamic Panel Data Models Using the BHPS 1992-2008 21
Measuring unmet preventive medication needs and socio-demographic characteristics of respondents at high risk of primary cardiovascular events in the UK household population 2010-2012 22
Determinants of private health care use in the UK - Did a decade of NHS budget expansion change the demand for private inpatient care? 23
Gender differences in educational aspirations and attitudes 24
Subjective Expectations about the Returns to Schooling and the Decision to Go to University 25
Parental Investment and the Intergenerational Transmission of Economic Preferences and Attitudes 26
How to encourage a face-to-face household panel to go online? Timing isn't everything but money talks! 27
Do branched rating scales have better test-retest reliability than unbranched scales? Experimental evidence from a three-wave panel survey 28
Question ordering effects on the reporting of fertility intentions and close social networks. 29
Enhancing the current knowledge on linking survey data to administrative records. Evidence from the Innovation Panel of the UK Household Longitudinal Study 30
Do the children of employed mothers eat fewer ‘family meals’? 31
The socio-economic gradient in children’s reading skills and the role of genetics 32
Information disclosure and educational expectations. A regression discontinuity approach 33
Marriage, cohabitation and child outcomes 34
Sustainable Partnerships An Empirical Study into Matched Sustainable Behaviour Within Married and Cohabiting Opposite Sex Couples Living in the UK 35
Is active commuting good for our health? 36
Associations between active travel to work and overweight, hypertension and diabetes in the United Kingdom 37
Exploration of High-emitting Households in the UK 38
Chasing hard to get cases in panel surveys – is it worth it? 39
'Keeping in touch' on the Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS) 40
Targeting households to issue to web to maximise web full household response 41
International differences in wealth inequality: The role of economic, demographic and institutional factors 42
The Living Wage: An economic understanding and a policy for equality. 43
Poverty in Perspective 44
The association between unemployment and psychological well being among ethnic minority groups in the UK today 45
Ethnicity and bullying involvement in a national UK youth sample 46
Life satisfaction, ethnicity and neighbourhoods: Is there an effect of neighbourhood ethnic composition on life satisfaction? 47
Why are households that report the lowest incomes so well-off? 48
Measuring employment in panel surveys: A comparison of reliability estimates in HILDA and BHPS 49
Understanding alcohol consumption in a family context 50
Social class and period influences on smoking transitions in early adolescence 51
The effect of smoking bans on self-reported health: comparative evidence from Germany and the UK 52
The short-term consequences of unemployment: an investigation for Germany 53
Households’ responses to spousal job loss: ‘all change’ or ‘carry on as usual’? 54
Adverse effects of parental unemployment on young adults’ labour market experience 55
Patterns of connectedness and resilience to hard times 56
Exploring the influence of others: modelling social connections in contemporary Britain 57

Understanding Society Research Conference 20131

14:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Rory Coulter
Co-authors
Jacqueline Scott

Linking life events and stated reasons for moving over the life course

Since the publication of Peter Rossi’s Why Families Move in 1955, understanding the motivations driving residential mobility has become a key objective for social scientists and policy makers. While a growing number of studies have used survey data to analyse reported reasons for moving, much of our knowledge of why people move derives from inferences drawn from observed mobility patterns. Little is known about the correspondence between inferred and stated reasons for moving, or how these relationships may vary over the life course. As a result, this paper uses 1991-2008 data from the British Household Panel Survey to analyse how stated reasons for moving vary over the life course. The paper then explores how life events are associated with reported reasons for having moved. The results reveal large differences in reported reasons for moving across different stages of the life course. Importantly, both bivariate and panel modelling analyses show that people often report different reasons for having moved than we might expect from analysing their life course trajectories. Reported reasons for moving also frequently vary within families. We argue that this suggests that cognitive models of mobility decision-making can be problematic. Overall, the results highlight the importance of integrating subjective and event based data to better understand why people move.

Understanding Society Research Conference 20132

14:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Gareth Harris
Co-authors
Eric Kaufmann

Residential mobility decisions amongst the white UK-born population and ethnic diversity

The paper explores the relationship between mobility decisions amongst the white UK-born population and ward-level ethnic diversity. Rarely does a dataset permit the analyst to track the demographic, geographic and attitudinal properties of respondents. The BHPS/Understanding Society is an exception due to its longitudinal nature, large size and inclusion of attitudinal items. This analysis uses the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society datasets, linked to decennial census data, to help answer the puzzle: why white UK-born residents appear to be more tolerant towards immigration in ethnically diverse areas compared to those who live in less diverse areas.

The research aims to evaluate explanations derived from contact theory, which claim that toleration of minorities by the majority ethnic group is the result of the opportunities for interpersonal contact between members of different ethnic groups that occur in more diverse wards. Two issues that might contradict this account are addressed: First, that more intolerant members of the white UK-born population leave wards that have become more diverse, so that ‘white flight’ or white avoidance of ethnically diverse areas results in selection bias. Second, that certain kinds of white people live in diverse areas and these properties, rather than diversity, are what explain greater toleration. More diverse areas tend to be more transient, with higher levels of population churn. Even if those entering diverse areas are no more tolerant than those leaving them, movers tend to be more tolerant than stayers among the white UK-born population.

The research empirically examines these hypotheses by first, seeking to establish if there is a distinct demographic and attitudinal profile to white respondents who move to more diverse areas as compared with those who leave them. Secondly, multi-level models are employed to estimate the effect of both ward-level ethnic diversity and transience on whites’ mobility decisions.

Understanding Society Research Conference 20133

14:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Brian Kelly

The process of socio-economic constraint on geographical mobility: England 1991 to 2008.

This paper suggests that a life course perspective, together with an understanding of the process of socio-economic constraint, offers a useful theoretical framework for the study of geographic mobility. This understanding is largely missing from current approaches. The aim of this paper is to test the hypothesis that lower socio-economic groups are less likely to move geographical area and more likely to be constrained to areas of higher material deprivation. The analysis uses longitudinal data from all 18 waves of the British Household Panel Survey combined with aggregate ward level Census data within multilevel regression models. The findings provide evidence in support of the hypothesis and for the notion of a process of socio-economic constraint independent of life-cycle. After controlling for age it was found that, over the period of study, individuals from lower income households were less likely to move ward and less likely to move large distances, and there are similar seperate independent effects restricting mobility for those experiencing a decrease in household income during the period. The main conclusion is that an understanding of the process of socio-economic constraint should be central to theoretical and empirical studies of geographic mobility.

Understanding Society Research Conference 20134

14:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author & presenter
Helena Meier
Co-authors
Katrin Rehdanz

The Amenity Value of the British Climate

This study attempts to monetize the amenity value of climate to British households. By using the hedonic price approach, the marginal willingness to pay for small changes in climate variables is derived. The hedonic technique suggests that if households are freely able to select from differentiated localities then climate becomes a choice variable. The tendency will be for the costs and benefits associated with particular climates to become capitalised into property prices. The underlying assumption is that migration-induced changes in house prices and wage rates households have eliminated the net benefits of different locations. The few existing studies characterise climate in different ways e.g. annually averaged temperatures; January and July average temperatures; the temperature of the hottest and the coldest month. Representing the climate by the temperature of the hottest and coldest month means the impact of climate change will be independent of baseline climate; using only annual average temperatures to represent the climate implicitly suggests that individuals are indifferent between climates which might differ substantially in terms of seasonal variation. We overcome the limitations of previous studies by describing climate in terms of heating degree-days (HDDs) and cooling degree-days (CDDs). These measure daily deviations from a base mean temperature of 65 °F . The base temperature is intended to approximate the outside temperature where householders need neither heating nor cooling to feel comfortable indoors In our analysis we combine climate variables on the local authority district with data of the BHPS for the years 1998, 2003 and 2008 and add information on the area of living (e.g. distance to regional amenities, unemployment rates). Our preliminary findings suggest that household are willing to pay a significant amount of money to live in areas with less CDDs and more HDDs but not without limits.

Understanding Society Research Conference 20135

14:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author & presenter
Franz Buscha

Does Sunshine make you Happy? Subjective Measures of Well-Being and the Weather: Evidence from the UK Panel Data

This paper examines to what extent individual measures of well-being are correlated with daily weather patterns in the United Kingdom. Merging daily weather data with data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) allows us to test whether measures of well-being are correlated with temperature, sunshine, rainfall and wind speed. We are able to make a strong case for causality due to ‘randomness’ of weather in addition to using regression methods that eliminate time-invariant individual level heterogeneity. Results suggest that some weather parameters (such as sunshine) are correlated with some measures of well-being (job satisfaction); however, in general the effect of weather is very small. Life events such as long-term disabilities, unemployment or job changes influence well-being measures by 10 to 100 magnitudes more than any weather variable. However, we do find evidence of Seasonal Affective Disorder with individuals consistently reporting lower well-being scores in winter months.

Understanding Society Research Conference 20136

14:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author & presenter
Gopalakrishnan Netuveli
Co-authors
Mala Rao

Green, Healthy and Happy

As concerns for environment increased sustainable development has shifted from being desirable to essential. Concomitantly environmental activists have progressed from the first two generations characterised by conservation and preservation respectively to the third generation characterised by individual commitment. It has been theorised that the human being has an evolved sense of connectedness to nature ( the Biophilia hypothesis) and a small number of studies have shown the benefits of exposure to nature on health, especially mental health. Using BHPS data Ferrer-I-Carbonell and Gowdy (2005) demonstrated a positive association between environmental awareness and subjective wellbeing. In this study we use data from two waves of Understanding Society to investigate whether living in ‘green’ households is associated better with health and wellbeing. We defined ‘green’ households on the basis information on energy use and recycling from wave 1 and test their association with individual measures of life satisfaction, general happiness, GHQ12 measures, self-rated health and SF12 physical and mental health components, adjusted for individual level commitments to green activities, age, sex, and education. We found that living in ‘green’ households has a small but significant impact for better for all outcomes. Further analyses are being done to disentangle the effects of household, ego, and alter environmentalism on these health and wellbeing outcomes.

Understanding Society Research Conference 20137

14:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
Alberto Tumino

The impact of local labour market conditions on school leaving decisions

We use data from the British Household Panel Survey and Labour Force Survey to examine the relationship between the demand for post compulsory education and prevailing labour market conditions. We explicitly incorporate the role of family resources by allowing effects to differ between young people whose families are home owners and those whose families are not home owners. We find evidence that household resources affect school leaving decisions mainly through past investment in the child’s human capital, and that local labour markets significantly affect school dropout rates at age 16 for youths living in tenant households, specifically in social housing. Our findings are consistent with the presence of credit constraints.

Understanding Society Research Conference 20138

14:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
Georgios Marios Chrysanthou

Identification of the Union Wage Impact using Panel Data: The British Case During 1995-2009

This study estimates the union wage impact employing BHPS data spanning the period of 1995-2009 using balanced and unbalanced panels of male and female employees. We employ a two stage control function variant approach to estimate a dynamic model of unionism and wage determination. This estimator is flexible in its treatment of unobserved heterogeneity and reveals information regarding the economic sorting mechanism of individuals within unionised and non unionised establishments. However, it limits our ability to include lags of the dependent variable and union membership in the structural wage equation. In response to this, we use an alternative difference generalised method of moments (GMM) estimator. Further, in order to account for the endogeneity of union membership without having to rely upon the potentially restrictive assumptions of the control function variant approach, that entails estimation of the reduced form under random effects assumptions, we additionally employ the fixed effects (within transformation) estimator. We conclude that fixed effects and difference GMM estimation are inappropriate in that the restriction that unobserved individual heterogeneity is time-invariant and equally rewarded in the two sectors is rejected in all of our estimates. We find that the unobserved factors that influence union membership also affect wages and conclude that UK trade unions still play a non-negligible role in wage formation. Upon accounting for the endogeneity of union status, measurement error in union membership status and the impact of job changers we conclude that there is a positive union membership differential (defined as the differential between covered members and covered non members) and a small union coverage differential gain for covered non members suggesting the existence of free riding. Upon exclusion of the potentially endogenous occupational controls, coverage differentials become statistically insignificant while union membership differentials are estimated to be approximately 8.9 and 13.4 per cent for male and female members.

Understanding Society Research Conference 20139

16:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Lara Patrício Tavares
Co-authors
Arnstein Aassve

Psychological distress of union dissolution: What does the average effect hide?

It is well-established that on average divorce brings about psychological distress. But, as Amato (2010) points out, average effects may mask substantial heterogeneity in individual’s reaction to union dissolution. The fact that on average divorce brings about psychological distress does not mean that all individuals experience union dissolution in the same way (Carr and Springer 2010). Actually, it might be beneficial to those who initiated it (Kitson 2006; Wheaton 1990; Amato 2000). The outcome studied relies on an indicator of mental health, psychological distress. The dependent variable is the change in psychological distress around first union dissolution i.e., the change between the level of psychological distress measured at the first interview after union dissolution (t+1) and the one observed in the interview before the last with respect to union dissolution (t-2), as (t-1) is likely to capture an anticipation effect. Our descriptive results clearly show that individuals are almost evenly split between those who gain from the union dissolution and those who loose. In this paper we are particularly interested in the moderation effects of gender, parenthood and union type (marriage Vs. cohabitation). On the other hand, it is likely that the consequences of union dissolution differ according to which union breakdown one is looking at. Due to sample size limitations, in the analysis we will not stratify by union order but we do control for it which allows us also to see if psychological distress of union dissolution decreases with the union order. Preliminary results show significant gender differences. Higher union dissolutions tend to be less distressful but only for men. Working at (t-2) has a protective effect, but only for women. Having children however, significantly increases psychological distress for both women and men.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201310

16:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Dieter Demey
Co-authors
Ann Berrington, Maria Evandrou, Jane Falkingham

Living alone and psychological well-being in late mid-life: does partnership history matter?

There is strong empirical evidence that psychological well-being deteriorates in a relatively short period surrounding a union dissolution, but also that experiencing multiple union transitions can have longer lasting consequences for psychological well-being. However, previous studies have rarely jointly considered the duration since the most recent union dissolution and the number of union transitions. Furthermore, most studies have focussed on marriage breakdown. Increasingly, partnership dissolution results from the breakdown of cohabiting partnerships and this should be taken into consideration in studies on psychological well-being and partnership characteristics. This study uses data from the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Survey (UKHLS) to investigate how the time since the most recent union dissolution and the number of union dissolutions are related to two indicators of psychological well-being, namely dissatisfaction with life and GHQ-12 caseness. The sample is restricted to 50-64 year old British men and women who are living alone and have ever been in a co-residential union (including cohabiting and marital unions). We focus on adults living alone in late mid-life as this is an increasingly common living arrangement in this age group and because their partnership histories are very diverse, with a considerable proportion having re-partnered at least once. Preliminary findings show lower psychological well-being in the two years following a union dissolution. Furthermore, psychological well-being is also lower for those who have experienced multiple union dissolutions. These findings are reported for both men and women, and remain unaltered when controlling for age, parenthood status and socio-economic status. However, the findings differ for the two measures of psychological well-being. These findings indicate that several aspects of partnership history are related to psychological well-being. Our approach also demonstrates that partnership dissolution is associated with lower well-being in the longer term.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201311

16:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Kenisha Russell-Jonsson

Cohabitation or Marriage? The socioeconomic and family characteristics of first union formation among men and women in Britain.

Using the retrospective British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), this study analyses how the socioeconomic and family characteristics of British men and women affect their transition to first union. Despite the fact that cohabiting unions have become a growing norm for first union formation among young adults, marriage remains an institutional feature of society. It is therefore not surprising that most research is still focused on marriages. The inclusion of premarital cohabitation is however an important part of any analysis on relationship formation, not least because our understanding of how cohabitation and marriage differs will become more clear, but such an analysis sheds light on the factors affecting an individual’s choice of marrying versus entering a cohabiting union as first union formation.

Although such analyses have been carried out in an earlier studies (e.g Berrington/Diamond, 2000) they focused on a singular birth cohort. This work proposes therefore to extend current research in Britain, by using longitudinal data which includes multiple cohorts (1960-1992). In addition, the longitudinal nature of the data makes it possible to differentiate between age and period effects, which was not possible in the previous analyses.

The transition to first relationship was analyzed with Fine and Gray’s (1999) competing-risks regression. As in previous studies, a favourable socioeconomic state promoted entry into marriage, as the propensity for marriage increased with higher levels of education and income. Beyond that, for women, university level degrees seem to have a stronger effect on marrying directly than on entry to cohabitation. For both sexes, pregnancy, the number of children and the age of the child is consistently and positively related to transitions to direct marriage. In general, the decision to cohabit or marry directly seems to be affected by factors such as the experience of a parental divorce during childhood, childhood socioeconomic status, ethnicity and region of residence.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201312

16:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author & presenter
Sarah Jewell
Co-authors
Marina Della Giusta

Working too much?

This paper addresses the role of different factors in explaining why so many people appear to be working more than the number of hours they desire to. There is now a large literature discussing the effects of both long working hours and work intensification on a range of outcomes including health, family relations and firm productivity (Burke and Cooper, 2008; Blyton et al, 2006). The causes of the phenomenon have been linked to both demand (screening through long hours by firms; Souza-Poza and Ziegler, 2003), and supply-side factors (increased competitive pressure, staff reductions, flattening hierarchies with more employees competing for fewer promotions, 24/7 work schedules enabled and intensified by new technologies, but also peer pressure and status races; Burke and Cooper, 2008; Bowles and Park, 2005). One third of the working population surveyed in the British Household Panel Survey in 2008 states that they would like to work fewer hours although they are in a job they like and are not income constrained. We test, using the British Household Panel Survey, the relative relevance of different factors discussed in the literature in determining both labour supply in general (participation and working hours), and the degree of satisfaction with working hours in particular, focussing in particular on the role of values and personality, both of which help to test supply side explanations put forward in the literature as well as suggesting alternative complementary ones.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201313

16:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author & presenter
Andy Charlwood
Co-authors
David Angrave

How does working time affect subjective well-being?: British evidence

Given the dramatic increase in underemployment in the UK labour market since 2008, and continuing UK political debates about whether working-time should be regulated, it is important to understand the effect of mismatches between employees’ actual and preferred hours on their well-being. Studies of working-time mismatch have already been conducted in both the USA (Reynolds & Aletraris 2010) and Australia (Wooden et al 2009), finding that hours mismatch has a significant impact upon the job and life satisfaction of employees, but no longitudinal studies have investigated the impact of hours mismatch within the UK from a longitudinal perspective. Therefore this paper analyses the impact of a mismatch between actual and preferred hours of work on job satisfaction, life satisfaction and the GHQ-12 measure of affect using both the full BHPS panel from 1992 and waves 1 and 2 of Understanding Society. The results of fixed effects estimates suggest that there is a subjective well-being penalty for both long hours (>47 hours a week) and working part-time if there is a mismatch between actual and preferred hours worked. Neither long nor short hours of work in themselves predict job or life dissatisfaction, the critical issue is whether there is mismatch between actual and preferred working time. We then extend our analysis by investigating how employees respond to a working time mismatch – do they adjust their hours, their preferences or do they remain mismatched? For those employees who remain mismatched, do their satisfaction levels adapt to the mismatch or do lower levels of satisfaction persist?

Reynolds, J. & Aletraris, L. (2010) Mostly Mismatched With a Chance of Settling: Tracking Work Hour Mismatches in the United States, Work and Occupations, 37:476-511

Wooden, M., Warren, D. & Drago, R. (2009) Working Time Mismatch and Subjective Well-being, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 47:147–179

Understanding Society Research Conference 201314

16:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
Helena Tunstall
Co-authors
Jamie Pearce, Liz Richardson, Rich Mitchell & Niamh Shortt

Residential mobility and socio-spatial inequalities in health between neighbourhoods: Why do people in BHPS move to unhealthy areas?

Geographical analyses of migration have suggested that residential mobility can reinforce and acerbate socio-spatial inequalities in health. However, the reasons that people in poor health move to deprived areas have not often been assessed. This study uses data from the BHPS to analyse the causes of residential moves in UK and explore the processes underlying health and socially selective migration. The analysis describes patterns of mobility, characteristics of movers, the reasons for their moves and the impacts of their moves on spatial inequalities in self-rated health. The aim of the analysis is to understand better how people in poor health become resident in neighbourhoods with socio-economically and physically disadvantaged environments.

BHPS data was used to describe self-rated general health, age, socio-economic status, changes of residential neighbourhood and reasons for moves. The neighbourhoods analysed were Census Area Statistics wards in Britain (N=10,654; mean population approximately 5,500). Neighbourhood socio-economic deprivation was defined by the Carstairs 2001 deprivation index. The physical environment of the wards was described using the Multiple Environmental Deprivation Index (MEDIx), based upon indicators of air pollutants, climate, proximity to waste management or metal production/processing sites, UVB radiation and green space.

The analysis finds that selective mobility contributed moderately to the concentration of people in poor health in the most deprived environments in most age groups. Health-motivated mobility was relatively rare and selection processes varied substantially with age.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201315

16:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
Roger Wilkins
Co-authors
Dean Lillard, Richard Burkhauser, Markus H. Hahn

Does early-life income inequality predict later-life self-reported health? Evidence from three countries

We use Cross-National Equivalent File (CNEF) data from Australia, Great Britain, and the United States to investigate whether and how an individual’s self-reported health varies with income inequality. We combine these survey data on individual health with time series data on the share of taxable income reported by the top one percent of tax units. Because the income share series in each country covers many years, we are able to relate the probability of being in poor health to contemporaneous inequality and to the average inequality each birth cohort experienced in the first 20 years of life. Simple correlations are statistically significant. The probability a person reports being in poor health increases with both measures of inequality. However, the simple associations are not robust. When we control for time trends, demographic characteristics and the log of per-capita GDP, the association between health and current inequality turns insignificant or reverses sign; the association between health and early life inequality remains positive and statistically significant for US men and US and British women but is negative and statistically significant for Australian men. To reconcile these findings, we posit that self-reported health depends on basic public health care spending and argue that the associations we estimate will arise if the cost of delivering basic care is either declining in real terms or is rising more slowly than GDP, even when income inequality is growing. Under these conditions, the relationship between inequality and health should change as a country grows richer. In particular, inequality is likely to be associated with worse health when a country is poorer and with better health when a country is richer. Our evidence supports this prediction. Residents in all three countries are more likely to report being in poor health when current inequality is higher, but only when per-capita GDP is low. As per-capita GDP increases, higher inequality is associated with better health. We also find that health is more likely to be worse for US men who experienced higher inequality and low levels of GDP in the first five years of life. Although we do not directly test the hypothesis about the underlying relationship between basic health care and health, these patterns suggest that the association between inequality and health is likely a statistical artifact not the result of a causal effect of inequality per se.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201316

16:30, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author
Aina Gallego
Co-authors
Franz Buscha, Patrick Sturgis, Daniel Oberski
Presenter
Patrick Sturgis

Places and preferences: A Longitudinal Analysis of Self-Selection and Contextual Effects

Contextual theories of political behavior assert that the contexts in which people live influence their political beliefs and vote choices. Most studies of contextual effects rely on cross-sectional data, but it has long been recognized that this approach does not provide convincing evidence of contextual effects because it fails to adequately distinguish contextual influence from self-selection of individuals into areas. This paper advances research into this longstanding controversy using longitudinal survey data over an 18-year period in England. We track individual-level left-right position and party identification before and after residential moves across areas with different aggregate-level political orientations. We find evidence of both self-selection and assimilation of new entrants to the majority political orientation over time. However, these conclusions are contingent on the type of area an individual moves to. Overall, contextual effects are found to be weak and dominated by the larger effect of non-random selection into areas.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201317

18:00, Wednesday 24th July 2013 - LTB 7

Author
Presenter
Lucinda Platt

Plans for Immigrant and Ethnic Minority Boost Sample

New Immigrant Boost and Refreshment of Ethnic Minority Boost for Understanding Society

This facilitated discussion will introduce and debate plans for enhancing the research potential of Understanding Society from wave 6 onwards through a new boost of immigrants and a refreshment of the ethnic minority boost sample.

The discussion is a chance for users to identify the key research questions that such new boosts could address, and discuss their implications for boost sample selection.

Many key design issues for the boosts are not yet resolved. These includes questions such as how far should the immigrant boost concentrate on recent immigrants – and what counts as recent? Should the ethnic minority boost focus on the same groups as previously or should it attempt to target (as well as include) other groups? What are the limits, given different patterns of relative concentration and group size? As the boost will need to be selected using household-level screening, which is costly, how much should the chances of maximising sample size be prioritised over refinement of the sample? And for which parts of the boost?

The session will enable those with interests in this area to identify the best design to maximise the research potential of the enhancements, and to debate the trade-offs, and priorities between as well as within the two proposed boosts.

We’d like to know what is going to reap the biggest rewards for the substantial investment needed, and to involve users directly in considering these issues.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201318

09:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Tarek Mostafa
Co-authors
Richard D. Wiggins

Handling Attrition and Non-Response in the 1970 British Cohort Study.

The 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) is a continuing multi-purpose, multidisciplinary longitudinal study based on a sample of over 17000 babies born in England, Wales and Scotland. The study has collected detailed information from main parents then cohort members on various aspects of their family circumstances at birth, on their education, employment, housing and partnership histories over eight subsequent sweeps of data collection at ages 5, 10, 16, 26, 30, 34, 38 and most recently age 42 (2012). This paper studies the extent of attrition in BCS70 and how it affects sample composition over time. We examine the determinants of response then construct inverse probability weights. In the last section, we use a simulation study to illustrate the effectiveness of weights and imputations in dealing with unit non-response and item missingness respectively. Our findings show that when the predictive power of the response models is weak, the efficacy of non-response weights is undermined. Further, multiple imputations are effective in reducing the bias resulting from item missingness when the magnitude of the bias is high and the imputation models are well specified.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201319

09:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Dorothee Schneider

Understanding survey attrition among immigrants in wave 2 of Understanding Society

Immigrants, as ethnic minorities in general, have a higher risk of nonresponse in many household surveys (Watson and Wooden 2009, Feskens 2009). This poses a problem, especially when maintaining a panel that should offer large enough sample size for subgroup analysis. Little is known about the mechanisms leading to nonresponse or attrition of migrants. The large number of migrants in Understanding Society—both due to its large sample size and the Ethnic Minority Boost sample—allows investigating in how far factors commonly associated with attrition as well as characteristics specific to migrants help understand their response behaviour.

Using data from waves 1 and 2 of Understanding Society, I analyse attrition amongst migrants in the second wave. The nonresponse process is understood as sequential, consisting of non-contact and, for those contacted, refusal and different factors can affect each of the two stages. I first model household non-contact at wave 2 and then, conditional on contact, refusal to the individual interview. Both models control for small-area characteristics and survey paradata such as whether the interviewer changed between waves.

I find that household non-contact amongst migrants is, similar to that of the UK-born population, determined by factors relating to at-home patterns and residential mobility. Immigrants’ propensity to refuse is influenced by factors relating to nonresponse theories about social exchange and civic duty, but also by their cultural background (proxied by their ethnicity and religion). Even after accounting for these characteristics attrition both at the contact stage and at the cooperation stage is related to time since arrival in the UK. These findings shed light on which factors are important for retaining migrant sample members in a longitudinal study and have implications for fieldwork practitioners.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201320

09:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Peter Lugtig

Latent Class models to describe the profiles of different groups of drop-outs in the British Household Panel Survey

Latent class models can be used to study attrition (drop-out) patterns in panel surveys. The advantage of using a Latent Class Model over other models, is that there are fewer assumptions with regards to the pattern of attrition in the survey. People in a panel survey may drop out and never return (monotone attrition), but any other (non-monotone) attrition pattern is possible as well. Using a Latent Class model, respondents can be grouped into homogeneous classes that each follow a different attrition pattern.

The latent class variable can subsequently be used in several ways. Differences on substantive variables can be investigated when the latent class variable is used to predict one or more dependent variables for example. Another possibility of interest to survey methodologists, is the study of measurement errors within each attrition class. In this way, it is possible to estimate measurement errors for every class of people who drop out, and ultimately, to study whether there is any relation between attrition error and measurement error. For example, is it true that who drop out quickly report with more measurement error than respondents who participate in every wave of a panel survey?

This presentation outlines different statistical methods to investigate attrition patterns, determine the number of Latent Classes and develop Latent Class indicators for attrition. Data from the British Household Panel will be used to illustrate how the profiles of different Latent classes of people who drop out differ from eachother.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201321

09:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
Alexander Labeit

Use of Different Preventative Health Check-Ups in UK: A Comparison with Dynamic Panel Data Models Using the BHPS 1992-2008

Individuals have the possibility to visit different health check-ups within the NHS in UK: breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screening, blood pressure check, cholesterol test, dental screening and eyesight test. My analysis uses the BHPS covering the period from 1992 to 2008 and investigates empirically how individual and household characteristics, past screening behaviour and policy changes affect the uptake of any of these specific NHS health check-ups. For the conceptual framework, I use a human capital approach (Grossman model) which is extended for non-economic factors.

Independent variables in the equation estimations are lagged dependent variables up to lag 3, equivalised household income, age, gender and partner status, number and age of children, ethnicity, employment, education level, self-rated health status, health problems, smoking, region and moved residence within UK and race. I estimate unbalanced and balanced versions of dynamic panel data models of binary choice for the different health check-ups and use as econometric method dynamic RE probit models with initial conditions (Mundlak-Wooldridge). Also marginal effects for these models are estimated and for considering the influence of attrition effects for the estimation inverse probability weighted models (IPW) are used.

Results with dynamic RE probit models (Mundlak-Wooldridge specification) show that in accordance with expectations previous health check-ups one year before (first lag) and higher lags which correspond to the recommended interval for the specific health check-up have the expected positive effect on uptake. Age has for all of the check-ups a nonlinear relationship and the effects of variables such as living with a partner, education, ethnicity, health status and smoking differ for the different health check-ups. For policy changes only the coefficient for breast cancer screening has the expected sign, however not for cervical and dental screening. A higher permanent income leads to a higher uptake for dental screening, however not for all other health check-ups.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201322

09:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
Jakob Petersen

Measuring unmet preventive medication needs and socio-demographic characteristics of respondents at high risk of primary cardiovascular events in the UK household population 2010-2012

Despite of progress in the last decade the family of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) remains one of the main causes of premature death and disability in the UK. The gains made could furthermore be jeopardised due to rising levels of obesity and diabetes observed in ever younger cohorts. The government set out the new CVD Outcome Strategy in 2013 to improve CVD prevention, treatment pathways and long-term care. This re-emphasises the need for early detection of those at high risk and interventions to mitigate individual risk factors through lifestyle advice and preventive long-term medication. The present study uses the UK longitudinal household study, Understanding Society, which offers opportunities to study health status, socio-demographic and lifestyle factors in a community setting. More than 15,000 adult respondents of Understanding Society took part in a health assessment in the period 2010-2012 and just over 5,800 of those were aged 40-74 years, gave a blood sample and did not report to have been diagnosed with CVD or diabetes. Ten-year risk of first CVD event will be calculated for this group using the Joint British Societies 2 risk prediction tool (initially without and later with blood test results). Based on recent predictions the sample size for the study is expected to reach 1,200. The possession of anti-hypertensive and lipid-regulating prescription drugs will be studied against current clinical treatment guidelines. Multivariable logistic regression analysis will be used to characterise socio-demographic and lifestyle factors associated with unmet preventive medication needs among participants with a high 10-year risk of a CVD event. Two groups that are likely to emerge are those that are undiagnosed due to non-consultation and those no longer in possession of adequate medication due to non-adherence. More knowledge about the risk factors for non-consultation and non-adherence would be of interest to planners of public health interventions.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201323

09:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
Marian Schmidt

Determinants of private health care use in the UK - Did a decade of NHS budget expansion change the demand for private inpatient care?

Objectives: To investigate the determinants of private health care demand in the UK, by assessing whether NHS budget expansion changes the demand for private hospital care, with particular focus on the patient’s financial situation.

Methods: Using household survey data (BHPS) from 1991-2008 a panel analysis is conducted to identify determinants of private hospital care demand. Further, the time periods 1991-1997 and 2002-2008 will be compared to investigate the influence of NHS budget expansion.

Findings: From 1991 to 2008 demand for private hospital care decreased more rapidly than demand for public inpatient care. After the NHS budget expansion, education and employment are nowadays more important predictors of private hospital care use than a patient’s income. Due to the small number of observations no significant reduction of private health care use by patients with financial problems could be detected.

Conclusions: The expansion of the NHS budget strengthened the universality principle of the UK health system by including more patients to receive public care. In future times of financial austerity, a reduction in depth of NHS services will likely increase the share of private health care finance in total health expenditure and may threaten both universality and equity of the health system.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201324

09:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author & presenter
Tina Rampino
Co-authors
Mark Taylor

Gender differences in educational aspirations and attitudes

We use data from the youth component of the British Household Panel Survey to examine how gender affects educational attitudes and aspirations among 11-15 year olds. We find that the impact of gender on children’s attitudes and aspirations varies significantly with parental education level, parental attitudes to education, child’s age and the indirect cost of education. Contrary to our expectations based on social control and gender role socialisation theories we find that boys are more responsive than girls to positive parental characteristics. Moreover we find that boys’ educational attitudes and aspirations tend to deteriorate at a younger age than girls’ and that, differently from girls, boys do not take into account information on the business cycle when reporting their educational attitudes and aspirations. These findings are particularly relevant when trying to design policies aiming at reducing the gender educational attainment gap since they help identifying other relevant household, economic and individual characteristics which exacerbate boys’ educational disadvantage.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201325

09:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author & presenter
Adeline Delavande
Co-authors
Basit Zafar

Subjective Expectations about the Returns to Schooling and the Decision to Go to University

Most economic decisions involve uncertainty and are therefore shaped not only by individual preferences but also by expectations of future outcomes. Understanding the expectations that individuals have is thus critical for understanding their behavior—in particular, for major life decisions such as schooling choices—and for modeling the effects of policies. For example, several explanations could rationalize why many young individuals do not go to university. One possibility is that they expect low returns to schooling. Another alternative is that they face high attendance costs or credit constraints. Without data on expectations we cannot separate these two explanations, yet doing so is important for designing policies that promote schooling. Higher education is a priority in UK government policy. In this context, it is relevant to understand youth’s decision to go to university. This decision critically depends on individuals’ (and parental) perception about the returns to schooling and about the cost involved. While a large literature estimates the returns to schooling with earnings data, it is the returns perceived by students and/or their parents that influence actual schooling decisions We have collected new data from the UK Innovation Panel of Understanding Society Wave 5 to elicit from youth (and parents) the subjective probability of applying to university, the probability of being employed at age 30 if they have a university degree in several fields and if they don’t; expected earnings at age 30 if they have a university degree in several fields and if they don’t; expected costs and hours of study if they go to university. We will evaluate whether youth and their parents have systematic misperception about the returns to a university degree, and the relative role of expectations about future earnings and credit constraints in shaping youth’s decision to attend university.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201326

09:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author & presenter
Maria Zumbuehl
Co-authors
Thomas Dohmen, Gerard Pfann

Parental Investment and the Intergenerational Transmission of Economic Preferences and Attitudes

We study empirically whether there is scope for parents to shape the economic preferences and attitudes of their children through purposeful investments. We exploit information on the risk and trust attitudes of parents and their children, as well as rich information about parental efforts in the upbringing of their children from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study. Our results show that parents who invest more in the upbringing of their children are more similar to them with respect to risk and trust attitudes and thus transmit their own attitudes more strongly. The results are robust to including variables on the relationship between children and parents, family size, and the parents’ socioeconomic background.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201327

13:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Carl Cullinane
Co-authors
Gerry Nicolaas

How to encourage a face-to-face household panel to go online? Timing isn't everything but money talks!

The fifth wave of the UK Household Longitudinal Study Innovation Panel included a sequential mixed mode design to evaluate the possibility for saving costs by collecting a significant portion of both household and individual data by web rather than face-to-face interviewing. The panel also included an experiment to test whether it would be possible to manipulate certain design features to boost response to the web questionnaire, thus further increasing cost savings. Two design features were selected for experimentation using a fully crossed 2×2 factorial design: (1) day of first contact and (2) a bonus for web completion. In this presentation we will present the results of the experiment, looking at web response rates and final response rates for individuals and whole households. We will also discuss the possible implications for the UK Household Longitudinal Study.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201328

13:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Emily Gilbert

Do branched rating scales have better test-retest reliability than unbranched scales? Experimental evidence from a three-wave panel survey

The use of ‘branched’ formats for rating scales is becoming more widespread because of a belief that this format yields data that are more valid and reliable. Using this approach, the respondent is first asked about the direction of his or her attitude/belief and then, using a second question, about the intensity of that attitude/belief (Krosnick and Berent, 1993). The rationale for this procedure is that cognitive burden is reduced, leading to a higher probability of respondent engagement and superior quality data. Although this approach has been adopted recently by some major studies, notably the ANES, the empirical evidence for the presumed advantages in terms of data quality is actually quite meagre. Given that using branching may involve trading off increased interview administration time for enhanced data quality, it is important that the gains are worthwhile. This paper uses data from an experiment embedded across three waves the Innovation Panel, part of the ‘Understanding Society’ survey. Each respondent was interviewed once per year between 2009 and 2011. We capitalise on this repeated measures design to fit a series of models which compare test-retest reliability, and a range of other indices, for branched and unbranched question forms, using both single items and multi-item scales. We present the results of our empirical investigation and offer some conclusions about the pros and cons of branching.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201329

13:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Paul Mathews

Question ordering effects on the reporting of fertility intentions and close social networks.

In surveys, preceding questions can influence respondents’ answers to later questions. As an individual’s opinions toward their own fertility and close social network are highly dependent upon their circumstances, we test whether prior questions might influence the reporting of fertility intentions or close social networks. Our data come from the Innovation Panel of the UK Household Longitudinal Study. We have an experiment contained in waves 4 and 5 of the panel. At the household level participants were randomly allocated to one of two conditions. Approximately half of the participants were asked the questions on their fertility intentions before the measurement of their close social network and the other half were asked the questions on fertility preferences after their close social network questions. Our provisional results show that there is a plausible risk that fertility preferences are responsive to subtle preceding question primes. However, there appears to be less effect on the reporting of close social networks.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201330

13:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Emanuela Sala
Co-authors
Jonathan Burton, Gundi Knies

Enhancing the current knowledge on linking survey data to administrative records. Evidence from the Innovation Panel of the UK Household Longitudinal Study

Linkage of administrative data to survey data is becoming increasingly popular both in the UK and elsewhere. Major social surveys have linked their data with a wide range of administrative data including data on benefit receipt, adolescent’s school performance, health and morbidity. The reason why data linkage is so appealing to researchers lays in the potential to overcome some of the main challenges currently facing survey practitioners, for example by improving data quality, reducing survey costs in the longer term and easing respondent (and interviewer) burden.

Despite its wide spread use, there is very little methodological research on data linkage in household panel surveys. As asking for consent to link administrative records to survey data is often compulsory, obtaining respondents’ consent is key for the success of the data linkage procedure. Most of the survey design decisions are often based on anecdotal accounts and common sense rather than being driven by sound empirical evidence. Such decisions, however, may have strong implications as they are likely to have an impact on consent rates and bias.

This paper investigates the impact of survey design features (i. e., type of question and position of the consent question) on consent to datalinkage and provides a deeper understanding of the reasons why people consent or do not consent. Using a unique set of experimental data collected in Wave 4 of the Innovation Panel and recordings from survey interviewes, we show that, under certain conditions, interview features such as question format (dependent/independent questions) and placement of the consent question may have an impact on consent rates. We also find evidence that shows that a specific interviewer training and carefully drafted question wording may have a positive effect on consent rates. The paper also provides practical guidance to survey methodologists and survey agencies on the implementation of data linkage .

Understanding Society Research Conference 201331

13:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author
Antonia Simon
Co-authors
Charlie Owen
Presenter
Charlie Owen

Do the children of employed mothers eat fewer ‘family meals’?

There is a concern that the failure of families to eat an evening meal together is contributing not only to children’s poor nutrition and an epidemic of obesity, but also to a rise in antisocial behaviour. Some large-scale surveys have found positive associations between frequency of family meals and desirable health and behavioural outcomes for children. A number of such studies also find negative associations between frequency of family meals and hours of maternal employment, supporting public discourses which blame working mothers for negative child outcomes. However, the definition of a ‘family meal’ is not straightforward. Understanding Society wave 1 included this question for parents: ‘In the past 7 days, how many times have you eaten an evening meal together with your child/children and other family members who live with you?’ This paper uses the answers to this question to examine whether the children of employed mothers eat fewer ‘family meals’. It also contrasts the results with the Millennium Cohort Study which asked a related question: ‘Who usually eats the evening meal with [child’s name] on weekdays?’ In addition to maternal employment, relationships with other socio-economic factors have been analysed. This paper compares and contrasts the results from these two recent, large-scale studies and explores some of the methodological and conceptual difficulties involved in using these data for examining ‘family meal’ frequency and its association with socio-demographic variables.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201332

13:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author
John Jerrim
Co-authors
Anna Vignoles; Raghu Lingham; Angela Friend
Presenter
Anna Vignoles and John Jerrim

The socio-economic gradient in children’s reading skills and the role of genetics

In this paper we investigate the role of three particular genes (and gene-environment interactions) in determining children’s reading skills. Our analysis focuses upon three of the most promising candidate genes (DCDC2, KIAA0319 and CMIP) available within the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) dataset. We find that whilst these genes are indeed correlated with reading outcomes, effect sizes are small and sensitive to the choice of test used and the sample selected. We find no evidence of gene-environment interactions. Rather our results suggest that the leading candidate genes can jointly explain just 2% of the socio-economic gap in children’s reading test scores. We conclude that the influence of these three genes on children’s reading ability is limited, and their role in producing socio-economic gaps even more limited still.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201333

13:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author & presenter
Laura Fumagalli

Information disclosure and educational expectations. A regression discontinuity approach

This paper uses survey and administrative data on English students in secondary schools to investigate how the information students receive about their academic performance a ffects their expectations of applying for a university degree. At the end of year 9, the students’ performance in English, Mathematics and Science is assessed and translated into continuous score measures which are then used to assign each student to a small number of performance levels. We exploit the fact that students receive information on the level achieved in each subject – but not the scores – to investigate the impact on educational expectations of information on individual academic performance. Implementing a regression discontinuity design, we examine whether being assigned to a higher level a ffects a marginal student’s expectations about her participation in further education. We find that being assigned to a level which clearly signals good performance has the e ffect of boosting educational expectations for some subgroups of male students.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201334

13:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author & presenter
Ellen Greaves
Co-authors
Alissa Goodman, Claire Crawford, Rob Joyce

Marriage, cohabitation and child outcomes

Children born to married couples have higher cognitive and social and emotional ability, on average, than children born to cohabiting couples. We investigate whether marriage, or the characteristics of couples that choose to marry, is the cause. This is an important empirical investigation in the context of a large and increasing proportion of births to cohabiting couples in the UK and US, accounting for around 30% and 40% of births in 2011 in each country respectively. We find a large degree of selection into marriage (evident through differences in exogenous characteristics of parents) which accounts for the majority of difference in outcomes between children born to married and cohabiting couples in two complementary sources of data, the Millennium Cohort Study and British Cohort Study. This suggests that policies that encourage marriage would have a small impact, if any, on children’s development.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201335

13:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
Hazel Pettifor

Sustainable Partnerships An Empirical Study into Matched Sustainable Behaviour Within Married and Cohabiting Opposite Sex Couples Living in the UK

In this study I show that men and women living together as a couple are likely to behave similarly sustainably or non-sustainably in and around the home. Further testing three mechanisms which explain this, I show that similarities in the shared environment explain common routines of energy and water consumption. However men are more likely to behave independently of their partners beliefs in climate change and both men and women show some propensity towards influencing the behaviour of their partners where they hold opposite beliefs in climate change. Overall findings suggest that treating the family as a group of homogenous individuals is a naïve approach to the study of greener households. There is a complex interplay of relationships, roles and responsibilities which if better understood could guide interventions towards the creation of more sustainable households.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201336

13:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
Ellen Flint
Co-authors
Steven Cummins, Amanda Sacker

Is active commuting good for our health?

Background: Physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and is an important factor in healthy weight maintenance. However, overall levels of physical activity have declined in the developed world, and tackling obesity is a public health priority. Active commuting is thought to be a particularly effective way of getting exercise, as it is easily adopted and likely to be maintained as part of one’s daily routine.

Methods: Using data from Understanding Society Wave 2, this study investigates the extent to which active commuting predicts four objectively measured health outcomes: body mass index (BMI); percentage body fat; lung function; and blood pressure. Commuting was defined using three categories designed to capture increasing levels of physical activity: private transport; public transport; active transport. The analytic sample was restricted to those who worked outside of the home and had complete data for commuting and biological measurements (n=3352 men; n=4103 women). Gender-stratified multivariate linear regression analyses were utilised, in order to adjust for a range of covariates.

Results: In age-adjusted analyses, compared with using private transport; public transport and active transport were associated with lower BMI for men (public transport: b -1.1, p<0.001; active transport: b -0.9, p=0.002) and women (public transport: b -0.6, p=0.05; active transport: b -0.6, p=0.01). Adjustment for other covariates did not greatly attenuate this association for men (public transport: b -1.0, p<0.001; active transport: b -0.7, p=0.016) or for female active travellers (public transport: b -0.6, p=0.09; active transport: b -0.9, p=0.001). Similar results were found for percentage body fat. Findings for blood pressure and lung function varied by gender and told a more complex story.

Conclusions: The results corroborate findings from other studies suggesting that incorporating a greater level of physical activity into the journey to work may help individuals maintain a healthy weight and body composition.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201337

13:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
Anthony Laverty
Co-authors
Elizabeth Webb; Jenny Mindell; Christopher Millett

Associations between active travel to work and overweight, hypertension and diabetes in the United Kingdom

Background and purpose Increasing active travel (walking, cycling, or using public transport) is increasingly seen as integral to strategies to raise physical activity levels. This study examined: (1) socio-demographic correlates of active travel to work; (2) associations between active travel and cardiovascular risk factors in the United Kingdom.

Methods Data comes from Understanding Society, a nationally representative survey of United Kingdom residents in 2009/2011. Data come from the 20,000 respondents to the first wave of the survey who were aged 16 – 65 years and in work. Multinomial logistic regression assessed associations between socio-demographic factors and mode of transport to work. Logistic regression was used to examine associations between mode of travel and overweight/obesity, having hypertension or diabetes.

Results 69% of participants traveled to work using private transport, with public transport, walking and cycling used by 16%, 12% and 3% respectively. Use of any active travel was more likely in participants living in London. Black participants were more likely to walk (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) =1.41, 95%CI 1.08-1.84) or take public transport (AOR=2.34, 95%CI 1.88-2.90) to work than white participants. Using public transport, walking or cycling to work was associated with a lower likelihood of being overweight (AOR=0.85, 95%CI 0.77-0.95 for walking). Walking or cycling were associated with a lower likelihood of having diabetes; and walking with lower likelihood of having hypertension than private transport (AOR=0.83, 95%CI 0.71-0.97).

Conclusions There are wide variations in the mode of travel to work across regions and socio-demographic groups in the United Kingdom. The protective association between active travel and cardiovascular risk demonstrated in this nationally representative study adds to growing evidence that a concerted policy focus in this area will benefit population health.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201338

13:30, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
Xinfang Wang

Exploration of High-emitting Households in the UK

Policies for addressing climate change have been economy wide, little attention has been paid to ‘tailoring’ policies towards the particular high impact groups within society, which may provide for a more effective, efficient and equitable delivery of a low carbon society. With a new angle of separating the high-emitting groups from the general households in the UK in order to promote more reasonable and realistic policies focusing on household emission reductions, this paper concentrated on exploring the key reasons that caused the significant different levels of green house gas (GHG) emissions between the high-emitting households and the general ones. Basing on the consumption-based approach, the paper estimated household emissions by linking their expenditure and corresponding emission intensities. The estimation uses secondary data that are collected from the Economic and Social Data Service in the UK. Further, the distributions of UK household emissions are presented by Lorenz curves. After that, four important household socioeconomic factors including household income, household owned number of cars, house size and household size are investigated on their influence of household emissions from key emitting categories through linear regression analyses. It is found that emissions from transport are more related to household owned number of cars because of its high influence on transport fuel. Emissions from electricity and gas used at home are more related to house size. In addition, household sizes have much less influence on emissions from food and non-alcoholic drink among high emitters comparing to all households. Moreover, among high emitters, households prefer more driving and less use of other transport tools with the increase of household size. The analyses further support the standpoint of treating the high-emitting groups differently from the general households as an implication for policies projected on GHG emission reduction from the UK households.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201339

16:00, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 7

Author & presenter
Mark Wooden
Co-authors
Nicole Watson

Chasing hard to get cases in panel surveys – is it worth it?

Obtaining high response rates to population surveys typically requires concentrating fieldwork effort on a relatively small proportion of hard-to-get cases. This paper examines whether this effort is justified within a panel survey setting. It considers four related questions: (i) are the hard-to-get cases that are ultimately interviewed noticeably different from other interviewed cases? (ii) do the cases that require a lot of effort in one survey wave require a lot of effort in all waves? (iii) are hard-to-get cases in one wave simply going to attrit at the next wave? and (iv) is data quality inversely associated with effort?

The data at the centre of the analysis come from the first eleven waves of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, Australia’s only large-scale nationally representative household panel survey. The HILDA Survey involves personal interviews conducted each year with all adult members of sample households. The fieldwork at each annual survey wave is split into three distinct phases, with each successive phase focusing more intently on the harder-to-get cases, whether they be harder to locate or contact, harder to persuade or harder to interview. For this analysis we define hard-to-get cases as those first worked on in one phase that need to be re-issued to a later phase in order to obtain the interview.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201340

16:00, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 7

Author & presenter
Oliver Tatum and Angie Osborn

'Keeping in touch' on the Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS)

The Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS) provides the most comprehensive measures of private household wealth in Great Britain. As well as measuring levels of cross-sectional wealth, the longitudinal design of the survey allows analysts to examine how people’s levels of wealth change over time; alongside changes in the other circumstances of WAS respondents. WAS, which uses Computer Aided Personal Interviewing (CAPI), is currently in its fourth wave. The longitudinal design of the survey poses a number of challenges; not least the ability to maintain respondent engagement and accurate contact details for future waves of interviewing. To date, the primary method of contacting respondents between waves has been a short household telephone interview; know as the ‘Keep in Touch Exercise’ (KITE). An experiment was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the WAS KITE telephone interview, along with the introduction of a newsletter distributed between WAS waves. The experiment lasted for a period of 12 months between November 2010 and October 2011.

The experiment classified half of the participating households in wave three of the survey into one of four groups; 1) KITE contact; 2) Newsletter contact; 3) KITE and newsletter contact; 4) No contact. The impact on response rates and identification of ineligible addresses/movers for wave four was compared for these four groups in order to evaluate the most effective strategy for respondent contact between waves.

The results indicated some significant differences between the response rates and sample frame efficiency observed for these four groups in wave four. This presentation will explore the results of our analysis and how it has informed our future strategy for contacting respondents between Wealth and Assets Survey waves.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201341

16:00, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 7

Author & presenter
Richard Boreham

Targeting households to issue to web to maximise web full household response

Understanding Society is moving to a multi-mode design from Wave 7 onwards, where a proportion of households will be initially issued to web, and then transferred to face-to-face if necessary. This clearly has potential cost savings, although these will only be realised if the whole household is productive. Introducing mixed mode may also impact the overall response rate – at IP5 the mixed mode experimental group where cases were initially issued to web and subsequently transferred to face-to-face had a household response rate that was 4 points lower than the sample issued directly to face-to-face. Is it possible to identify households where we can make cost savings by getting full household response in web, and not damage the overall response rate for those that do not fully respond in web? This paper sets out an approach to determine which households should be issued to web. The technique is to use logistic regression to estimate the probability of individuals taking part in web, and then from this derive a probability of everyone in a household taking part and then select those households which have the highest probability. Initial analysis suggests that it is possible to select 25% of households to issue to web and to double the web full household response from 23% for the whole sample to 46% for this targeted group of households.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201342

16:00, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Abigail McKnight
Co-authors
Eleni Karagiannaki and Frank Cowell

International differences in wealth inequality: The role of economic, demographic and institutional factors

In this paper we compare the level, composition and distribution of household wealth in five industrial countries: the UK, US, Italy, Finland and Sweden. We exploit the harmonized data within the Luxembourg Wealth Study, extended to include additional years of the British Household Panel Survey. We find that the Nordic countries have lower average wealth holdings, smaller absolute gaps between low wealth and high wealth households but high relative measures of wealth inequality. Italian households hold very little debt and are much more likely to own their homes outright, leading to relatively high median levels of wealth. In contrast American households tend to hold much more housing debt well into retirement. We show that there are underlying country differences in terms of distributions of age, household composition, educational attainment and income as well as wealth and debt portfolios. Educational loans are increasing in their size and prevalence in some countries and look set to create some marked differences in the distribution of wealth for different age cohorts. We adopt a counterfactual decomposition analysis to analyse cross-country differences in the size of household wealth and levels of household wealth inequality. The findings of the paper suggest that the biggest share of cross-country differences is not due to differences in the distribution of household demographic and economic characteristics but rather reflect strong unobserved country effects.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201343

16:00, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Carlo J Morelli
Co-authors
P.T Seaman

The Living Wage: An economic understanding and a policy for equality.

The revival of support for a living wage has reopened a long-run debate over the extent to which active regulation of labour markets may be necessary to attain more equitable outcomes. Market failure is suggested to result in lower wages and remuneration for low skilled workers than might otherwise be expected from models of perfect competition.

This paper examines the theoretical underpinning of living wage campaigns and demonstrates that once we move away from idealised models of perfect competition to one where employers retain market power over the bargaining process it is readily understandable that low wages may be endemic in low skilled employment contracts. The paper then examines evidence, derived from the UK Quarterly Labour Force Survey, for the extent to which a living wage will address low pay within the labour force. We highlight the greater incidence of low pay within the private sector and then focus upon the public sector where the Living Wage demand has had most impact. We examine the extent to which addressing low pay within the public sector increases costs. We further highlight the evidence that a predominance of low pay exists among public sector young and women workers (and in particular lone parent women workers) but not, perhaps surprisingly, among workers from ethnic minority backgrounds. The paper then builds upon the results from the Quarterly Labour Force Survey with analysis of the British Household Panel Survey in order to examine the impact the introduction of a living wage, within the public sector, would have in reducing household inequality.

The paper concludes that a living wage is indeed an appropriate regulatory response to market failure for low skilled workers and can act to reduce age, gender and regional pay inequality, and reduce household income inequality among in-work households below average earnings.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201344

16:00, Thursday 25th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Matt Barnes
Co-authors
Andy Ross, Gareth Morrell, Claudia Wood, Jo Salter

Poverty in Perspective

Poverty as a lived experience is a complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon. This project used data from the Understanding Society dataset to create groups of households with different experiences of poverty. Latent Class Analysis was applied to 20 indicators of poverty to create different ‘types’ of poverty among the low-income population. Interpretation of the quantitative analysis was verified by carrying out in-depth interviews with households in the different poverty types. The research findings were used to develop a toolkit to guide policymakers and practitioners in their attempts to combat poverty. The project also assessed whether the data analysis could be carried out at a local level, using local data.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201345

09:00, Friday 26th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Natasha M Crawford

The association between unemployment and psychological well being among ethnic minority groups in the UK today

Background This study examines the potential moderating effect of ethnicity upon the association between unemployment and psychological well being. While a range of studies document a negative association between unemployment and psychological well being, the effect of ethnicity has not been examined outside of a specific occupational setting.

Methods This paper uses data from waves 1 and 2 of Understanding Society. The Ethnic Minority Boost component of Understanding Society, which samples approximately 1000 individuals from five target ethnic groups (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Caribbean and African), represents a unique opportunity to examine ethnicity in the UK today. Psychological well being is measured using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). Due to its skewed nature, this measure is recoded as a binary variable. The main independent variable, employment status, is self reported. Ethnicity is introduced as a series of dummy variables. Logistic regression is used to examine the effect of unemployment on psychological well being.

Results Preliminary results identify differential employment outcomes according to ethnicity. Specifically, with the exception of those who identify themselves as Indian, all targeted ethnic groups have higher unemployment rates than those who identify themselves as white/British. Further, all targeted ethnic groups report poorer psychological well-being compared to our reference category; this is consistent with findings from other studies of an ethnic gradient in mental health. Unemployed individuals from each targeted ethnic group report poorer psychological well being compared to those who identify themselves as white/ British. We therefore expect the association between unemployment and psychological well being to differ according to ethnicity.

Conclusions Increasingly, mental health occupies a central place within public health policy. An understanding of the moderating effect of ethnicity upon the association between unemployment and psychological well being, as presented in this study, may therefore have implications for targeted mental health interventions and initiatives.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201346

09:00, Friday 26th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Neil Tippett
Co-authors
Dieter Wolke, Lucinda Platt

Ethnicity and bullying involvement in a national UK youth sample

There is compelling evidence that the experience of bullying in childhood adversely impacts on health and life outcomes. To limit this negative impact it is important to identify factors that are associated with being bullied or engaging in bullying behaviours. Ethnicity is one factor which may contribute to exposure to peer victimisation; however, few studies directly address this issue, hence there is continuing debate over whether rates of bullying differ between ethnic groups. The present study aimed to investigate whether there were ethnic differences in bullying involvement (as victim and bully) among a UK wide sample of adolescents.

Participants were 4,668 youths, aged between 10 and 15, who participated in Wave 1 of Understanding Society. Bullying was assessed using multiple self-report measures, and ethnic group was identified using a self-report classification question based on the 2011 National Census. Binary logistic regression models examined ethnic differences across bullying roles while controlling for potential confounders of age, gender, household structure, economic situation and parent-adolescent relationships. Results indicate that overall, ethnic minority youth were no more likely to become victims. Among perpetrators of bullying, both Pakistani and Caribbean youths were more likely to bully others than White youths, however this effect was entirely explained by gender. Pakistani and Caribbean girls were significantly more likely to bully others than White girls.

The findings are positive in showing that ethnic minority youth are no more likely to be victimized than white youth. However, the differential involvement found for bullying perpetration opens potential avenues for future research, which should attempt to replicate and investigate why Pakistani and Caribbean girls were found to be more often perpetrators of bullying than girls in other ethnic groups.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201347

09:00, Friday 26th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author
Lucinda Platt, Alita Nandi, Gundi Knies
Presenter
Gundi Knies

Life satisfaction, ethnicity and neighbourhoods: Is there an effect of neighbourhood ethnic composition on life satisfaction?

There is considerable debate about the advantages and disadvantages of minority ethnic group concentration. While some regard it as a process of group separation (Battu, et al. 2007), or damaging for local trust (Putnam 2007), others highlight the potentially protective influences in areas such as health or experience of discrimination (Becares, et al. 2009). However, to our knowledge, no studies have so far evaluated the extent to which different levels of own or other group concentration impact on subjective well-being itself. Exploiting the opportunities offered by an exceptional source of data we therefore bring together three research strands, those on ethnic segregation, neighbourhood effects and well-being to explore for the first time in the UK the mediating effect of neighbourhood context on life satisfaction of ethnic minority groups. Using a unique dataset for the UK linked with a range of neighbourhood characteristics from a number of different sources, the research looks at variation in life satisfaction of ethnic groups living in Great Britain, and examines the extent to which neighbourhood ethnic composition is related to life satisfaction. Since other characteristics of the neighbourhood may be correlated with ethnic composition (i.e., economic and socio-cultural aspects such as neighbourhood deprivation, neighbourhood income and consumption and life-style profiles) the paper also considers the role of these factors. Taken together this allows us to answer the question whether the ethnic composition of the neighbourhood plays a part in positively or negatively impacting people’s experienced utility, and whether there is variation across ethnic groups.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201348

09:00, Friday 26th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author
Mike Brewer
Co-authors
Ben Etheridge, Cormac O'Dea
Presenter
Ben Etheridge

Why are households that report the lowest incomes so well-off?

Using data from the Living Costs and Food Survey in the UK over 1978-2009 we document that households with extremely low measured income (below 10% of median income) on average spend much more than those with merely moderately low income (those below 50% of median income): in short, the graph of median expenditure against income maps out a `tick’. We show that this tick appears, to a greater or lesser extent, over the whole period and across di fferent employment states, levels of education and marital statuses. Of the likely explanations, we provide several arguments that discount over-reporting of expenditure and argue that under-reporting of income plays the major role. In particular, by using a dynamic model of consumption and saving, and paying special attention to poverty dynamics, we show that consumption smoothing cannot explain all the apparent dissaving. Finally, and whatever the reason for the tick, we document that low consumption is better correlated with other measures of living standards than having low income.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201349

09:00, Friday 26th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
SC Noah Uhrig
Co-authors
Nicole Watson

Measuring employment in panel surveys: A comparison of reliability estimates in HILDA and BHPS

An important use of large household panel surveys is an examination of inequality dynamics in society. An example might be how research on discrimination in employment focuses on sex or race differences in wages, job quality, mobility chances or status outcomes. A well known problem, however, is how random measurement error can lead to attenuation bias in observed substantive coefficients. Moreover, there is mixed evidence on how panel conditioning might affect measures as panels age. One approach to assessing changing data quality in a panel context is to estimate the reliability of variables using quasi-simplex Markov models initially formulated by Heise (1969) and Wiley and Wiley (1970). This approach relies on panel data with at least three time-points to estimate reliabilities from a measurement model incorporating latent true values. Comparing data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey and the British Household Panel Survey, our research addresses the questions of whether and under what conditions the reliability of core employment measures change over time. We further examine whether change in reliability is related to a number of covariates including sex, age and education. We conclude with a discussion of how reliability assessments may affect substantive research using panel data, including cross-country comparisons, and whether calculating and publishing reliabilities may be a desirable feature of a panel data quality profiling exercise.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201350

11:00, Friday 26th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Cara L. Booker

Understanding alcohol consumption in a family context

Recent government policies have been proposed with the aim of curbing binge and heavy drinking, particularly among young people, and changing the drinking culture in the United Kingdom (UK). Alcohol consumption norms can be transmitted through peer and familial networks. The aim of this paper is to investigate the association between parental and youth alcohol consumption behaviours and the individual and household contextual factors associated with those associations.

The paper uses the adult and youth (10-15 year olds) surveys from Wave 2 of Understanding Society. Young people were asked about their frequency of drinking in the past month and the number of times they had consumed five or more drinks in a single setting, binge drinking, in the past month. Adult alcohol consumption was measured by a question about frequency of consumption in the past 12 months and the maximum daily alcohol consumption in the past seven days.

The findings showed that the proportion of young people who reported having had a drink in the past month was low but varied greatly with age. Similarly, binge drinking one or more times in the past month differed by age and gender. Patterns of parental alcohol consumption differed by gender, education and income. Overall, an increase in the frequency or amount drank by the parent was associated with an increased likelihood in the frequency of past month drinking or binge drinking of the youth. The strength of the association between parental past 12-month drinking and youth binge drinking increased with the addition of covariates.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201351

11:00, Friday 26th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author & presenter
Michael J Green
Co-authors
Alastair H Leyland, Helen Sweeting & Michaela Benzeval

Social class and period influences on smoking transitions in early adolescence

Background: Smoking development is often conceptualised in stages from initiation, through occasional use to daily smoking. Previous research suggests that adolescents from a disadvantaged background are more likely to become daily smokers at early ages than their more affluent peers. Recent years have seen increasing efforts in the UK to reduce smoking, but it is unclear how this has affected socioeconomic inequalities in early adolescent smoking development. Methods: Smoking histories from ages 11 to 15 were constructed using data spanning 1991-2009 from the British Household Panel Survey youth sample. 4,500 adolescents had valid data. Discrete-time survival analyses examined associations with household social class and time period (measured in years since 1991) for progression from never to having tried smoking (n=1,917), from trying to occasional use (n=861), and from occasional use to either daily smoking or quitting (n=293 and n=390 respectively), adjusting for respondents’ gender and age. Results: Adolescents from manual compared to non-manual households were more likely to try smoking, and to progress from occasional to daily use, but did not differ in progression from trying to occasional use, or in quitting after occasional use. For time period there was a non-linear decrease in the risk of trying smoking which remained relatively flat up to 2001, decreasing more sharply thereafter, and the risk of progression to occasional use initially increased with passing years but then decreased again. Transitions to daily smoking or quitting were independent of time period. There were no interactions between household class and time period. Conclusion: Smoking initiation among early adolescents has decreased across the socioeconomic spectrum in recent years. However socioeconomic inequalities in early adolescent uptake persist. Social class is most strongly associated with initial trying and progression from occasional to daily use. Interventions need to address these stages if they are to reduce inequalities.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201352

11:00, Friday 26th July 2013 - LTB 8

Author
Daniel Kuehnle, MSc BA
Co-authors
Christoph Wunder
Presenter
Christoph Wunder

The effect of smoking bans on self-reported health: comparative evidence from Germany and the UK

Passive smoking is a significant public health issue. in recent years, many countries worldwide have introduced anti-smoking policies to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. However, the health effects of smoking bans are unclear a priori as previous studies for the US have demonstrated both intended and unintended consequences of smoking bans. In particular, one influential study shows that the health of young children deteriorated significantly because smokers were found to substitute private for public smoking spaces.

This paper provides novel comparative evidence on the effects of smoking bans on self-rated health for two European countries, Germany and the UK. We conduct separate analyses for both countries, compare the results, and work out similarities and differences. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel and the British Household Panel Study, we exploit temporal and regional variation in the implementation of smoking bans, applying a difference-in-differences approach. We address the following research questions: does self-assessed health respond to smoking bans on average? Do different population subgroups respond differently to bans?

In summary, our results identify both population subgroups that benefit and those that suffer from smoking regulations. Separate analyses for Germany and the UK show similar patterns across population subgroups. The findings indicate health improvements for non-smokers whereas smokers report deteriorating health. We detect particularly large benefits for non-smoking women aged 30-49 in both Germany and the UK. We conclude that subjective health assessment improved for non-smokers due to the smoking bans, presumably by reducing the amount of exposure to second-hand smoke, but deteriorated for smokers at least in the short-run.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201353

11:00, Friday 26th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author & presenter
Sebastian Beil

The short-term consequences of unemployment: an investigation for Germany

The paper analyzes the temporal pattern of the occupational consequences of unemployment for Germany in a time of extensive reforms and considerable variation in economic growth. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) and difference-in-differences matching estimators I show that the variation in the overall scar effects correlates with economic growth as well as the timing of the reforms. Most notably, I find partial evidence that the shortening of the potential durations of unemployment benefits for older workers leads to higher scar effects of unemployment after 2006.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201354

11:00, Friday 26th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author & presenter
Karon Gush
Co-authors
James Scott, Heather Laurie

Households’ responses to spousal job loss: ‘all change’ or ‘carry on as usual’?

Job loss or reductions to paid working hours can pose a serious threat to the economic stability of a household, creating an incentive for couples to jointly re-evaluate the way in which paid and unpaid labour is shared between them and adjust to their changed circumstances. It is generally accepted that the UK recession which began in 2008 has been accompanied by a squeeze in living standards but little is known about the ways in which households have responded in the current economic climate. This paper explores household behaviour and expectations with respect to (a) the level of anticipation surrounding job loss and (b) the extent to which couples adopt long or short term labour market perspectives. Drawing on in-depth qualitative interviews conducted with a purposive sample selected from the Understanding Society Innovation Panel, couples’ experiences and expectations are examined where one couple-member had undergone a change in job, working hours or employment status since spring 2008. The findings suggest that even where there is a reasonably high level of awareness that job loss is a very real prospect, when it actually happens it can still prove to be a ‘shock’. Furthermore, the extent to which couples favour long or short term approaches towards their labour supply appears to be strongly linked to work identities. Regardless of whether job loss is anticipated, couples seek to maintain/regain their pre-existing share of paid and unpaid household labour preferring to employ income smoothing techniques over both the long and short term. Such techniques can include a complex mix of cutting household expenditure on everyday and/or big ticket items, relying more heavily on support from other family members and drawing on savings and investments.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201355

11:00, Friday 26th July 2013 - LTB 5

Author & presenter
Wouter Zwysen

Adverse effects of parental unemployment on young adults’ labour market experience

Both in the academic literature and in the media, the study of intergenerational unemployment and cycles of disadvantage has received a lot of attention. Parental experiences such as being out of work may impact adversely on their children by limiting their opportunities from early on. Previous research has established a correlation between parental unemployment and that of their children using cohort studies. The focus of these studies has been to infer causality, using instrumental variables or joint estimation. We use propensity score matching to construct a comparable control group. Using the first wave of Understanding Society we have rich information on both parents and children to match on. The advantage of propensity score matching is that it does not make parametric assumptions about confounders. It also increases the power of our estimates. We compare labour market experiences of children whose fathers did not work when aged 14 to those of children whose fathers did work, but in a low-paid job, rather than comparing to all working fathers. These two groups are likely to face adversity on the labour market, thus increasing comparability. We also go beyond unemployment to investigate job quality. We find that children of non-working fathers are about 20% less likely to be in employment themselves. When looking at those young adults in employment though, growing up with a non-working father does not have any discernible effect on the quality of a job. Our results indicate that children whose father was out of work at age 14 face a higher risk of being out of work as young adults, but do not get lower quality jobs once employed. We simulate an unobserved confounder which shows that our results are robust to misspecification.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201356

11:00, Friday 26th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
Lindsay Richards

Patterns of connectedness and resilience to hard times

The concept of resilience has been largely confined to child development and to stress responses in health research. I argue that it also has a place in sociological and economic research as a construct integrating outcomes and the presence of adversity. This study is concerned with psychological well-being, its resilience to economic hard times and the role of social context as a resilience resource.

The concept of social capital is used as a theoretical framework and combined with economic and psychological takes on happiness. It is accepted that money does buy happiness to a certain degree, but also that adaptive and social comparison processes are operating. The analysis shows that social capital (connectedness) is not only reliant on economic circumstances and predictive of subjective well-being, but also has the power to mediate the relationship between these two factors. I follow in the ‘civic’ tradition of social capital and a new measurement scheme is proposed.

Indicators from the 7 most recent waves of BHPS data (2002 – 2008) are used to perform a latent class analysis resulting in a typology of connectedness; each type having a unique social, economic, and psychological profile. Connectedness is then used in a multilevel modelling framework (observations nested within individuals) along with economic factors to predict life satisfaction. The longitudinal approach highlights that connectedness may be better understood as dynamic, with individual changes in civic activity being particularly frequent. I also show that the relationship between economic hard times (including a drop in income and financial struggles) and well-being differs by connectedness with some types showing more resilience than others.

This research contributes to a growing literature showing that the effect of money on happiness is less than straightforward and that social context functions as a resilience resource to maintain well-being despite the presence of financial stressors.

Understanding Society Research Conference 201357

11:00, Friday 26th July 2013 - LTB 3

Author & presenter
Vernon Gayle
Co-authors
Paul Lambert, David Griffiths, Mark Tranmer

Exploring the influence of others: modelling social connections in contemporary Britain

In addition to information on respondents, large scale social surveys routinely include data on other individuals who have connections with the respondent. This information is usually collected by interviewing current and previous household members. Additional information, for example on friends, is often collected directly from the respondents. Despite the availability of these data, it is common for analyses to be restricted to individual-level explanatory frameworks that fail to exploit information on social connections. In this paper we present results which attempt to summarise the magnitude of the effects of social connections on a range of outcomes. Information on linked individuals can be incorporated in statistical models (e.g. by the inclusion additional explanatory variables, or through random effects estimating patterns of association for clusters of linked individuals). The innovative aspect of this present paper is that we exploit data on social connections to construct measures of the ‘social distances’ between various groups as an alternative way of considering locations on the contemporary social landscape. In recent influential work, The Spirit Level, Wilkinson and Pickett (2009) provide a persuasive argument that increased societal inequality is linked to a range of undesirable social outcomes. These outcomes can reasonably be considered as barometers of ‘what matters’ in contemporary societies. Using the British Household Panel and Understanding Society data we develop a range of similar measures. Our analyses examine the role of social connections when modelling these indicators at the individual level with social survey data.














Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER)
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www.understandingsociety.ac.uk
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Understanding Society has been commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The Scientific Research Team is led by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex.