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ESEC — Result In Brief

Project ID: 506452
Funded under: FP6-CITIZENS

Classifying Europe's socioeconomic classes

Ironing out socioeconomic opportunities is a complex task for politicians and sociologists. European research has developed a system to be used as a basis for improvement of life quality and social cohesion.
Classifying Europe's socioeconomic classes
Comparison of many aspects of life such as economic situation and health in different countries is hampered by the lack of a harmonised and validated classification of socioeconomic positions. Provision of a comparative European tool for studies on differences in health and job opportunity, to name but two examples, will facilitate future studies on social mobility and differences in life opportunities among Member States.

To develop and validate a classification system, the 'European socio-economic classification' (ESEC) project tested a prototype classification developed by the consortium. All National Statistical Institutes (NSIs) within the EU, Candidate Countries plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland were asked to test the consortium-devised prototype classification.

A truly pan-European event, a total of 21 NSIs responded either to give feedback or to receive information. On the first of the three-day event, consortium members described and validated the classification. The second day was devoted to individual countries and their presentations on their experiences of application of the ESEC in their national statistical sources. On the last day, meetings examined workshop findings and future activities were planned.

ESEC results demonstrate that the prototype they developed can be applied by NSIs across Europe. Data shows that there are indeed significant life chance variations among ESEC classes. Further research is required on the nature of employment relationships, particularly those concerning employment status and profession and not all countries agreed with the definition of certain groups.

establishment of a working protocol for socioeconomic classification is a significant achievement. ESEC will facilitate subsequent analyses of social mobility and intergenerational inheritance of inequalities. A standardised approach will help policymakers and all interested stakeholders to correct and adjust social inequalities within Europe.

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