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Session Overview
RN21_11a_P: Measuring Enduring and Emerging Social Inequalities in Europe
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Georg P. Mueller, Univ. of Fribourg
Location: PC.3.16
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 3.

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The challenge of assessing financial hardship. A comparison of direct and indirect measures of poverty in Europe

Ralf M. Lüth

University of Kassel, Germany, Germany

When social policy researchers want to explain the factors that lead to poverty, analyse its implications and develop or evaluate ways to prevent poverty, they need an instrument to identify the poor. This presentation deals with different approaches to this endeavour. A common definition of poverty is the inability to achieve a minimum standard of living due to a lack of resources; it is widely agreed that this minimum standard should be fixed in relation to the general living standard of a given society. But there is a multitude of concepts for determining this minimum living standard and for identifying those people that are excluded from it. A fundamental distinction here is the one between direct and indirect measures of poverty. While the latter focus on the resources available to an individual, direct measures of poverty capture the goods and activities that a person must forgo.

The presentation compares various operationalisations of poverty used in contemporary Europe (i.e. income poverty, material deprivation, social exclusion, welfare receipt). Based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel 2012, it explores the mismatch between the populations identified as poor by different operationalisations.

Drawing on these findings, possible improvements in regard to the existing indicators are discussed.

The overall aim of the presentation is to highlight both options and problems when measuring poverty in social policy research, with a special focus on the comparability of popular measures throughout contemporary Europe.

European labour markets in crisis

Dafni Dima

University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

This paper aims to study the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on European labour markets at national, regional and individual level. I explore whether labour market patterns changed and whether employment inequalities appeared wider during the crisis. The contributions of this paper are its dual comparison and the use of longitudinal data. Most of the recent empirical studies either focus on one or few countries, or cover only the first phase of the crisis, 2008-2010. The comparison of eleven European countries during 2005-2008 and 2009-2012 with the use of longitudinal data allows the dynamic study of the impact of the crisis on labour market trajectories. Using the longitudinal component of the EU-SILC dataset, with proportional country weights applied, I study all individuals between 25 and 64 years old who have been followed for the maximum duration of the panel, i.e. four years. The outcome variable is the unordered categorical labour market status, self-declared by the respondent. I first apply the latest techniques of Sequence Analysis to study labour market transitions as a whole and not as single events. Then I use Optimal Matching Analysis to measure a symmetrical dissimilarity matrix used for the Cluster Analysis, which aims to identify labour market groups. Finally, I use a multilevel model to study the regional labour market variation across time, with a complex 3-level data structure, with observations nested within individuals nested within regions. I allow for random intercepts at regional level and I control for socio-demographic and contextual characteristics.

The role of diverse social networks in maintaining generalized trust. Social class and prevailing inequalities.

Andreea Alecu

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway

The level of generalized trust is often linked to institutional performance. Other factors such as participation in social networks are, however, also of high importance, but have received less empirical scrutiny in recent scholarship. The scholarship has mainly investigated whether the number of close friends as well as the frequency of contacts is associated to the level of generalized trust. However, close networks of friends might be highly particularistic and foster similar ideas and attitudes. This paper aims re-examine Putnam's (1995) claim that interactions with people from different backgrounds fosters generalized trust, by taking into account the diversity of one's network and the strength of ties. This is achieved by employing a measure derived from Lin and Erickson (2008) social capital, which accounts for the strength, range and prestige of one's social ties. The preliminary results, based on a comprehensive Norwegian cross-sectional survey, support this hypothesis and indicate a significant correlation between the number of acquaintances and generalized trust, even when observations are matched using coarsened exact matching on social and background characteristics. There is, however, a ceiling effect. Individuals with most ties in a few professions are less trustful compared to those with a diverse network. Nevertheless, there are no significant differences between those with an average span in their network, and those with networks above the average. Furthermore, individuals whose social network encompasses individuals with a higher status are also more trustful.

Who is talking at the end of wealth surveys?

Martin Schürz

Economic University of Vienna, Austria

In the second wave of the Austrian Household Finance and Consumption Survey 2014 ( we have included a field for comments of the respondents Respondents werde invited to mention topics they consider themselves as important. After answering standardized questions this provides an opportunity for them to bring in their subjective perceptions on wealth.

We will analyze the comments according to socio economic variables of the respondents such as net income, net wealth, age education and other variables..In particular we focus on intem non-response behavior and on the issues selected by the people. The dominant theme is inequality in various dimensions. By studying these results one gets a better understanding of subjective perceptions of inequality by respondents of wealth surveys.

Inverted Classroom-Reducing inequalities at universities

Andrea Breitenbach

Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany

Heterogeneity among students has been on the rise for several decades. It has manifested itself not only in sharply different knowledge requirements, but also in other areas, such as heterogeneous conditions of living. This has created new challenges for teaching, in response to which only a few new concepts are being developed. For learners in heterogeneous situations, in particular, new teaching concepts can rarely be found. Also, there are hardly any offers for employed students, commuters etc.

As a result, digital teaching formats, such as the Inverted Classroom Model, can make crucial contributions towards softening the impacts of student heterogeneity. In this new teaching model, face-to-face and self-learning phases are almost ‘flipped’. For example, videos would be prepared and made available, replacing classical lectures. The time in the plenary session offers the opportunity for active collaboration like solving problems together, discussions etc.

The way in which the ICM responds to the heterogeneity in the area of statistics for social scientists was explored by a mixed methods study. The study evaluated the concept over four semesters and assessed the results.

The results threw up very interesting findings: the students prefer the concept to classical lectures and consider the learning effect to be higher. Also, such independent learning posed no difficulties. Learners with poor mathematical knowledge even worked on more exercises than those with greater knowledge. The fear of dealing with statistics will also presumably reduce. In addition, the students reported it as good; the new concept of teaching entails no disadvantages. This positive overall picture is buttressed by further quantitative results: students learning by means of ICM perform significantly better and do better in written exams.

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