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Labour demand, education and the dynamics of social exclusion


This proposal outlines a programme of research which will study the dynamics of social integration and exclusion among a number of groups at risk (young people, females, migrants and unemployed) in Europe, against a background of structural changes in European labour markets arising from technical progress, market integration, and a variety of differences in educational and training programmes.

The proposed research agenda has three key objectives:

- to analyse the effects of technological change on the demand for labour in terms of education and skills,

- to develop new indicators of 'social exclusion' and new analytical techniques to explore the dynamics of exclusion for problems groups,
- to investigate how different labour market, educational, immigration and social policies have moderated this process, and to suggest alternative policy directions.

A major contribution will aim at methodological advances in the analysis of multidimensional indicators of social exclusion. While labour market and income outcomes are important, aspects such as types and location of housing (e.g. 'ghettos'), access to public services, crime, health and the nature of social networks are also essential. Social exclusion should also be viewed as a relative concept that changes over time and differs between cultures.
The research will also emphasise the sequential nature of social exclusion, which can be halted and even reversed. Technological change will be considered as a major cause. The dynamics of social exclusion and the role of training will be studied over time using panel data and for particular groups at risk.

The proposed research will be co-ordinated by the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), and will involve the collaboration of ten research teams drawn from a variety of disciplines (demography, sociology, political science, economic history, labour economics, educational economics, gender economics, economics of technical change, international economics, institutional economics, econometrics and statistics).

The collaboration of teams from Ireland, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Israel is essential to the achievement of the research objectives. These countries provide an ideal natural experiment: they display strong contrasts in the scale, character and timing of important processes of social inclusion and exclusion, such as female work, immigration, unemployment and differences in training and educational systems. There are also, however, similarities between subsets of these countries, such as particular migration experiences, unemployment processes and the general threat of technical change. The contrasts will provide a sharp test of the methodology which underlies the proposed research.

In addition, the contrasting national experiences will help to distinguish purely national and local aspects of social exclusion from those structural features common throughout the EU. The research will be based on the intensive use of large-scale panel datasets, and the development of new 'register-based' surveys.

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