‘Self-perpetuating’ effects of inequality

Many forms of social disadvantage have a 'perpetual' character, according to the findings of a large-scale European research project. Past inequalities can themselves lead to future inequalities – not only for the individuals concerned but also for their children.

The report examines the key channels of influence and causality through which the social impacts of inequality can arise. It summarises the emerging conclusions from a wide range of individual studies, organised around five areas:

  • Poverty, deprivation and social 'risks'.
  • Gender, the family and fertility.
  • Health and health inequalities.
  • Wealth, inter-generational transmission and housing
  • Social cohesion and well-being.

The authors highlight the fact that a recurrent theme in debate on the impact of increasing inequality is the extent to which poverty, deprivation and social risks are linked not only to characteristics and factors currently affecting individuals and their households, but also with their socio-economic background. There is 'clear evidence' of the continuing influence of social class, and a danger that a one-sided focus on individual responsibility could open the door to new forms of marginalisation.

Source: Abigail McKnight and Brian Nolan, Social Impacts of Inequalities, Intermediate Work Package 4 Report, GINI Project (European Commission)
Links: Report