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  • Writer's pictureNikki Latham

Major Study Shows How Widening Inequalities In Education And Employment Has Been Caused By COVID 19

It is hoped that a major study will demonstrate the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on children's lives as a result of widening inequalities in education and employment.

Having analysed the life chances of today’s young people compared with those who started working during the 2008 recession, the experts are hoping that their work will be able to assist the UK government and policymakers in developing long term recovery plans to improve the outcomes for all children.

Professor Lee Elliot Major of the University of Exeter, along with Professor Stephen Machin and Andrew Eyles of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, are leading the study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation. The researchers will use a wide variety of data sources to construct a comprehensive projection of the likely impact of the Coronavirus on the long-term prospects of children.

As a result, we will be able to provide the most comprehensive assessment of the likely evolution of social mobility in the aftermath of the pandemic to date.

The study will show how the quality of schooling experienced by children, the amount of time and money invested by parents, and the characteristics of their family influences them throughout their life. Using children born around 2000, who were educated in a similar environment to those affected by Covid, as a basis for this model, we will examine the impact of Covid on their education over the years.

Using this framework, the researchers plan to estimate the impact of the pandemic on parents' financial investments, resources, and the quality of their children's education during the children's growing up years.

The Nuffield Foundation awarded £209,809 in funding to the project COVID-19 and Social Mobility: Promoting Life Prospects in a Post-Pandemic World a two-year feasibility study.

Professor Elliot Major said “Our project will provide a comprehensive account of how emerging inequalities caused by Covid will impact on future social mobility levels in the UK. Our approach is distinctive in that it goes beyond the descriptive evidence on losses in learning time. Instead, it combines the array of evidence being accumulated and uses it to model the effect of the Covid pandemic on a range of outcomes for children including school attainment, non-cognitive skills, earnings, and ultimately life prospects.”

Mr Eyles added: “We will show how school results are linked with later life outcomes, highlighting how young people were impacted by the Great Recession in 2008. We can then estimate the likely impacts on young people affected by the pandemic.

“By identifying the main drivers shaping outcomes of children and young people at distinct life stages we can highlight how these have changed during the pandemic. Finding evidence at different stages of the life-course will show the potential of best-timed investments for children. The ultimate aim of the project is to help improve the prospects of disadvantaged children and young people most likely to be impacted by the pandemic.” The University of Exeter is home to Lee Elliot Major, who is Professor of Social Mobility. He has co-authored two major books on social mobility with Stephen Machin. In addition to being an economist at the Centre for Economic Performance, Andrew Eyles is a PhD candidate at the UCL Department of Economics. Professor Stephen Machin is a Professor of Economics at London School of Economics. He is also Director of the Centre for Economic Performance. In addition to publishing in the top academic journals, generating successful books and articles for the public, and making a real difference to the national policy, the team has successfully worked on several joint research projects on social mobility. Cheryl Lloyd, Education Programme Head at the Nuffield Foundation, said: “The pandemic has affected many aspects of children and young people’s lives, including their experiences of school, college and home learning, their emotional and mental health, and how they spend their time. Young people at transition points have been especially vulnerable, and there is evidence that socio-economic and other inequalities are growing, which are likely to impact on longer term prospects. This project will provide a holistic picture of how the pandemic has impacted children and young people so that action can be taken to reduce inequalities, and better support young people, families and those who work with them.”

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