19 May 2014
Dr. Almudena Sevilla, reader in Economics at the School of Business and Management at Queen Mary and ESRC Social Diversity and Population Dynamics Cluster Leader, organized the policy conference "Family Life in Britain in the 21st Century: Changes and Opportunities". This conference presented results from a set of ESRC-funded projects on family issues and brought together over 60 UK researchers, policy makers, and NGOs to discuss the implications of the findings, changes in the nature and identity of UK families, and the opportunities and challenges for policy and employers.
At the event Dr. Almudena Sevilla from Queen Mary University presented her work on trends in parental time with children in the UK over the last five decades. She was then joined by Dr Svetlana Speight from the National Centre for Social Research, Professor Margaret O'Brien from the Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education and Dr Eloise Poole from the National Centre for Social Research who presented latest findings on father involvement in family life. Dr. Susan Harkness from the University of Bath presented her work on the changing nature of lone parenthood and its consequences for children. This event took place on 15 May, the International Day of Families, celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2014.
A roundtable discussion followed the academic presentations, chaired by BBC Social Affairs correspondent Alison Holt. Questions discussed were: Are changes in family life reinforcing inequalities? What are the implications of these research findings for inequality and for social mobility? Is it appropriate to try to address these inequalities and what measure might we take? Discussants were The Rt Hon David Lammy MP, Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics, Alison Garnham, CEO Child Poverty Action Group, Prof Jonathan Gershuny, Professor of EconomicSociology, Senior Research Fellow, Nuffield College, University of Oxford, and Jerome De Henau from the Women's Budget Group.
The above projects are three ESRC-funded projects which are part of the Secondary Data Analysis Initiative, the SDAI. The UK has a world-leading data infrastructure for social and economic research that provides a huge opportunity to address some of the most pressing challenges facing society. The aim of the SDAI is to deliver high-quality research through the deeper exploitation of major data resources, and delegates heard from the lead investigators from three projects grouped together in the 'Social diversity and population dynamics' cluster.