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InGRID Winter School on Intergenerational Inequalities

Date: 03 November 2014 - 05 November 2014
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Website: Visit website


3-5 November 2014 - CEPS, Centre for European Policy Studies, Place du Congrès 1, Brussels, BELGIUM

Inequality has become one of the biggest social, economic and political challenges of our time. Yet, policymakers remain reluctant to confront it head on. We therefore decided to make it the topic of our 5th InGRID winter school, to create a bridge between the state-of-the-art literature and political perceptions of this issue.

This winter school will bring together scholars,  experts as well as policy makers and practitioners  to analyse the most pressing issues within the concept of inequality in a cross-country comparative way as well as through country case studies.

Over 2½ days we will look at inequality from different angles and in relation to specific topics, such as:

  • intergenerational justice and welfare state,

  • education

  • corruption and politics

  • finance.

We will also look at relationship between social and spatial mobility, with a focus on Roma.

The final half day will provide the opportunity for researchers to present their work to allow on-the-spot discussions and networking.

Lectures and topics

Drivers and barriers behind social mobility

The sociological literature looks at inequality in terms of the relationship between social stratification and power. This interpretation can be considered as complementary, rather than alternative, to more economic interpretations of inequality, which consider globalisation and returns from capital as explanations for the rise in this phenomenon. In this session we will explore the drivers and barriers behind social mobility.

To this end, by adopting both an economic and sociological perspective, we wish to understand whether the increase in income inequality translates into lower social mobility, thereby undermining the aspiration of the Western societies that hard work and equal opportunities translate into prosperity and success. We will consider in particular:

  • How social capital influences social mobility

  • How family background and parental income affect children’s outcome

  • If and why a certain, more or less high level of inequality, has been considered acceptable by the society in the recent decades

  • Which political and institutional aspects contribute towards keeping the level of inequality high and acceptable.

Intergenerational justice and the welfare state

Affluent countries are about to face one of the biggest challenges in the history of the welfare state. Baby-boomers born at the end of WWII are retiring, while births have decreased to historically low levels in many countries. Added to these demographic trends are sluggish economic growth and persistently high unemployment rates, reducing the proportion of economically active citizens. Meanwhile, inequalities in living conditions have been growing for decades in many countries. These multi-faceted challenges to social protection indicate that inequality in modern welfare states – its moral significance, drivers and effects – cannot be properly understood by focusing solely on class, gender and ethnicity structures. We must also take generational cleavages into account. In many countries the issue is high on the political agenda as there is widespread concern that older generations are benefiting from the welfare state at the expense of younger generations. Such beliefs show that age-related differences in social citizenship rights and living conditions may represent a distinct and significant form of inequality that has relevance for distributional conflict and welfare state sustainability. The purpose of this session is to discuss the issue of equality between generations in relation to the institutional structures of the welfare state.

Inequality and education

Inequalities affect societies in many ways and have ramifications not only for current generations but also for generations to come. The institutional setting, social structures, economic circumstances, and education systems are all closely intertwined from a perspective of inequality. In this vein, there have been many academic and policy discussions about the role of education systems – and ultimately educational attainment – in shaping economic inequalities. For example, despite a widespread increase in educational attainment, there has not been a causal and/or unidirectional change in inequality. On the one hand, comprehensive and progressive education systems might decrease inequalities by providing equality of opportunity to students, and hence potential success later on in the labour markets. On the other hand, education systems might also reinforce inequalities by placing pupils in various tracks at a young age, which can then reinforce the effects of family backgrounds (Hanushek and Wossmann, 2005)[1]. The latter effect emphasises the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic circumstances and can also promote inequalities.

Finance sector and income inequality

There is a widespread perception among the general public that the financial sector has not only been responsible for the collapse of European and American economies since 2008, but it is also guilty of having contributed to the increase of income and wealth inequality observed in these countries since the end of the 1970s. Examples of such discontent are the Indignados and Occupy movements. But are such beliefs underpinned by the theoretical and empirical evidence? In this session we aim to examine the gathering research on the link between the financial sector and the dynamic of income inequalities, in particular with regard to two perspectives. One concerns the expansion of credit and the risk of channelling wealth to the few via returns on capital. The other is the distribution of wealth between countries that are members of the euro area.

Inequality, corruption and power

In this session, we look at the relationship between inequalities and corruption from a multidisciplinary point of view - combining political science, economics and sociology/anthropology. We will address the following questions:

  • At the macro and micro level, is high-level corruption associated with more inequality and its persistence over time?

  • What is the cause and what are the consequences of this phenomenon?

  •  What policies can address or mitigate this issue?

Same people + different location = different result

In this session we will look at the relationship between social and spatial mobility.

The speakers will shed light on the factors contributing to the success/failure of certain policies targeting immigrant intergration in Europe. Special attention will be given to the case of Roma.

 The aim of the session is to understand why and where performance variation exists across countries with regard to the improved inclusion of immigrants, in areas such as employment, education, housing and health.


Detailed programme and more information here.

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