Low social position explains link between lack of money and poor health.
People with low incomes are more prone to ill health due to the stress associated with their social position rather than their lack of money, according to researchers at the University of Stirling.
The researchers found that simply having low pay or low wealth wasn’t enough to explain poor health; what they found to be more important was how much their income or wealth inferred about their social ranking compared with those in their neighbourhood or others like them.
The researchers were seeking to explain why the well documented link between low income and poor health occurs, even in countries like the United Kingdom where people don’t have to pay for healthcare.
Lead researcher Michael Daly, from the University of Stirling’s Behavioural Science Centre, said: 'Our research first showed that the less people earn or own, the worse their health. This was indicated by greater reports of illness and a worse profile of common biological markers like blood pressure, cholesterol and waist circumference.'
'However, all the health measures we examined were more closely related to the ranked position of the person’s income or wealth compared to people of the same age, education or geographic area, rather than their income or wealth alone.'
'We know from primate research that low-ranking primates can suffer chronic stress and resulting health consequences, even when food is readily available. Our study found that people who have an income that ranks lower than others tend to go on to experience poor health, while the actual amount they earn or own has no significant health effect.'
The pursuit of income and wealth may only help an individual’s health in so far as it also raises their social ranking. However, for every person who increases their rank another will drop a position meaning that the pursuit of income and wealth collectively is unlikely to directly improve overall health in society.
The researchers looked at data on income, wealth, and health gathered on over 40,000 adults as part of two representative longitudinal British studies, the British Household Panel Study and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.
Management, Work and Organisation (Ronald McQuaid and Scott Hurrell) have received modest funding (Euro 23,000) for their limited part in an EU funded strategic partnership under the ERASMUS+ Programme. The project will develop and implement a new toolkit to enable national, regional and local labour market forecasters to ensure that they are able to support the alignment of Vocational Education and Training policy and economic development strategy. It will include case studies, good practice approaches and recommendations that will address the need to tailor forecasting (analysis, intelligence, format, methodology) and accompanying labour market intelligence (subject, sector, qualifications) across the partner countries (CZ, DE, ES,IT, NL, SE, UK). Skills Development Scotland is expected to be involved. Partners include several universities and the Swedish Employment service and the project is led by Exeter University. The project runs for two year from September 2014. Total EU funding was Euro 300,000.
Assessing security research: tools and methodologies to measure societal impact a support action (ASSERT)
The aim is to provide tools, such as guidelines and recommendations, on how to assess and mainstream societal impacts of EU security research activities in the future. The work includes an overview of the current state of the art on societal security, including present good practices. A pool of experts in this field will be created, which will provide assistance to the Commission in implementing the recommendations. The outcome will include a roadmap on how to implement these aspects in the next framework programme (Horizon 2020) for research and innovation.
The need for considering societal impacts of EU security research has been acknowledged on many occasions by different actors. The problem though is that in traditional thinking, societal impacts are reduced to side effects of instrumental (technological and legal) security measures. This binary thinking has to be overcome. It should and can be demonstrated that societal dimensions of security research taken into account from the very beginning of the 'design process' can increase the variety pool of feasible solutions. Starting from a synthesis of state of the art discussions on societal security, we will identify best practice cases exploring and assessing societal impacts of science and technology in the security domain and beyond, and carefully analyse their structural properties.
This will be done in a multidisciplinary fashion from different perspectives, including end-users, stakeholders, researchers, policy-makers and NGOs. Bringing together these different perspectives in a series of workshops will create the basis for the development of a tool and a strategy for the sustainable implementation of societal impacts in future EU research activities in the field of security.
Exploring the challenges and opportunities facing lone parents, with children over the age of five, in receipt of out-of-work benefits and moving into paid work as part of the UK government’s welfare reforms
This research was aimed at understanding the challenges and opportunities facing lone parents who wish to return to work, or are being compelled to do so because their youngest child has turned five. It sought to understand: the issues facing a lone parent seeking work; what it is like being a lone parent on Jobseeker’s Allowance; and how the expectations placed upon them as Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants relate to the realities of seeking, entering into and sustaining paid work as a lone parent.
The project took the form of a mixed-methods study. The quantitative element used large-scale social survey datasets to explore lone parents’ demographic characteristics, employment, income, housing, education and health, in the UK, Scotland, and specifically in Glasgow where possible. The qualitative element of the research consisted of seventeen individual interviews with lone parents, and a focus group with eight lone parent participants.
The aim of the study is to explore the impact of the welfare changes over time on a range of households in Scotland. The project is being carried out by the Employment Research Institute, Edinburgh Napier University and the University of Stirling on behalf of the Scottish Government.
In-depth interviews will be held with participants twice a year over the next three years to identify and unpack their experiences of welfare changes.
The welfare changes explored are:
additional hours required for working tax credit
changes to lone parents’ obligations, lone parents moving to JSA when their youngest child is five
receipt of Universal Credit, including move to monthly payments
disability living allowance and employment support allowance
Who is Participating?
The final sample at the end of the research will be 30 households. The main criteria for inclusion in the study are that the participants must be on benefits that are undergoing changes and so have experience of these changes during the study. It is a qualitative study exploring the issues faced by the individuals and the proposed sample should be diverse.
Some of the press coverage of the research can be found .
IRISS - Increasing resilience in surveillance societies
IRISS (Increasing resilience in surveillance societies) will investigate societal effects of different surveillance practices from a multi-disciplinary social science and legal perspective. It will focus on the effects that surveillance practices introduced to combat crime and terrorism can have on citizens in open and democratic societies. It will review surveillance systems used in fighting crime and terrorism and will examine the driving forces that have led to the spread of these practices. It will review current research on public attitudes towards surveillance, the impact of surveillance on civil liberties and citizens' trust in political institutions.
In a set of case studies, the impact of surveillance on the everyday lives of citizens will be analysed in detail. These studies will focus on the relations between citizens and the state, between citizens and private sector institutions and between citizens.
Based on the findings from these case studies, a series of comparative empirical social experiments will be conducted to test different attitudes towards surveillance in different democratic contexts. These experiments will investigate citizens' attitudes towards surveillance and the extent to which democratic rights can be exercised under existing regimes of surveillance and how these rights can be strengthened. The empirical research will inform an analysis designed to explore options for increasing social, economic and institutional resilience.
IRISS will produce a better understanding of how surveillance affects different types of societies and how different groups react to surveillance. It will produce a comprehensive account of resilience options, focussing on strengthening democratic processes and public discourse about appropriate reactions towards threats against open democratic societies. The consortium will involve stakeholders in expert workshops, an international advisory board and by other means.
Postnatal Care Research Allocation Model (PRAM)
Postnatal care has traditionally been provided to all women by midwives, public health nurses and general practitioners. However, there are two key drivers for change. Firstly, there is a need to maximise the health gain for women and children. Mothers need support and information in the early postnatal period to develop confidence in parenting skills and to establish infant feeding. It is therefore important to plan the midwifery workforce so that it provides the most appropriate skill mix to achieve this. At the same time, UK health organisations are facing reductions in budget allocation and are being challenged to improve efficiency, without adversely affecting the quality of health care.
Pressure from these two areas has resulted in an urgent need to undertake full-scale improvement of postnatal care to ensure that high quality care is provided in a way which maximises the efficiency of service delivery.
The PRAM project is developing an Excel-based software tool to aid in the redesign of postnatal care services. This will be linked to a knowledge base of best practice in postnatal care, supporting a whole systems approach to service improvement in partnership with maternity services stakeholders. This will facilitate both the implementation of a new model of postnatal care and its long-term sustainability.
Living in Surveillance Societies
Surveillance is a ubiquitous feature of European society. Citizens are routinely monitored by a range of sophisticated technologies – CCTV being only the most obvious one. Surveillance is typically justified by the threat of terrorism, crime and disorder and the need to improve public and private services. The EU-funded 'Living in Surveillance Societies' (LiSS) research programme (COST Action ISO807) brings together over 100 experts from 20 countries and a range of academic disciplines to deepen our understanding of living and working in surveillance societies. What are, for instance, the consequences of technologically enhanced surveillance for equity, cohesion and trust in our societies? And how should surveillance be organised and controlled? LiSS will explore these questions and make recommendations for the future of surveillance in Europe. Please contact Dr William Webster for more information.