Author Archives: Simonetta Longhi

Do We Understand Refugees?

While there is a large amount of academic research on why people may have negative attitudes towards migrants, we still have little information on are the main issues faced by stakeholders such as charities providing support to immigrants and refugees.

In June 2022 we organised focus groups and interviews with various charities and produced two story boards illustrating two important points. First, the “them versus us” rhetoric is flawed since people who are apparently different, often have various things in common (Nothing in Common?). Second, the common narrative that tax payers’ money is wasted hosting refugees in expensive hotels misses the point that this is a temporary solution that refugees would like to escape as soon as possible (Missed Opportunity?).

How can Universities Train Graduates for Jobs that Constantly Evolve?

Between November 2021 and April 2022, we have conducted a series of focus groups with large and small employers in various sectors to understand what technical and “soft” skills employers look for when hiring new graduates, and whether the pandemic has changed the required balance between technical and soft skills.  The results are remarkably similar across different types of employers.  Read our report here.

Stung by Pension Reforms: The Impact of a Change in State Pension Age on Women and their Partners

In many developed countries, pension systems are being reformed by increasing the age eligibility to receive the state pension and by reducing its generosity. The aim of these reforms has been to improve the financial sustainability of the system by encouraging people to work at older ages. However, these reforms also tend to have negative effects on wellbeing and to increase in inequality based for example on level of education and on family structure.

Our research focuses on the effect that the increase in the UK state pension age had on women born in the 1950s.  We found that the increase in the state pension age had the desired effect of keeping more women in the labour market (either employed, self-employed or seeking work), but also had negative effects on their mental health and on other aspects of wellbeing.  The reform had a more negative impact on more vulnerable women, for example, it had a larger negative impact on mental and financial wellbeing of women without a degree (compared to women with a degree), and of women without (compared to women with) a partner.

Della Giusta, M., Longhi S. (2021) Stung by Pension Reforms: The Unequal Impact of Changes in State Pension Age on UK Women and their Partners, Labour Economics72:102049.

Does Geographical Location Matter for Ethnic Wage Gaps?

We know that ethnic minorities in Great Britain are paid less on average than White British people.  We also know that ethnic minorities are more likely to live in deprived areas with lower job opportunities.  Does location matter in shaping ethnic wage gaps?

This research measures ethnic wage gaps by comparing minorities to majority workers in the same local labour market and focuses on the variation of wage gaps across areas. As wage gaps vary across areas, using one single national measure may be misleading. Higher wage gaps across groups are associated with higher occupational segregation and ethnic diversity, while higher wage gaps within groups are associated with higher regional specialisation and proportion of co‐ethnics. Policies could help by improving job location and selection into occupations across groups.

Longhi S. (2020) Does Geographical Location Matter for Ethnic Wage Gaps?, Journal of Regional Science, 60(3): 538-557.

Unhappiness in Unemployment: Is it the Same for Everyone?

Many studies have shown that there is a general tendency for men’s subjective wellbeing to be more badly affected by unemployment when compared to women, although the extent varies across countries. The existing literature notes the gender differences and offers possible explanations, but does not formally compare competing hypotheses. We analyse whether gender differences in life satisfaction associated with the experience of unemployment can be attributed to degrees of specialisation in the labour market, differences in the types of work undertaken by men and women, differences in personality traits, work identity or gender norms. We find that it is not all, but some, women who suffer less than men when experiencing a transition into unemployment. The experience of unemployment for women is differentiated by pay, work identity and, most powerfully, gender attitudes.

Longhi S., Nandi A., Bryan M., Connolly S. Gedikli C. (2018) Unhappiness in Unemployment: Is it the Same for Everyone?  Sheffield Economic Research Paper Series no. 2018007.
Also appeared as a Research Report on Gender and Unemployment for the What Works Wellbeing Centre.

The Diversification of Inequality

We examine intersectionality on the basis of increasingly complex interactions between gender and ethnic groups, which we argue derive from the growing diversity of these groups. While we critique the concept of superdiversity, we suggest that increased diversity leads to a ‘diversification of inequality’. This is characterised by an increasing incidence of inequality through the growth in migration and of the size and variety of ethnic minorities, and by a weakening of specific inequalities. We demonstrate this using the Labour Force Survey and conclude that there is a clear diversification of inequality but also that ethnicity is a more potent source of inequality than gender. Diversity also increases the reach of inequality through producing and increasing the number of intersections.

Brynin M., Longhi S., Zwysen W. (2019) The Diversification of Inequality, British Journal of Sociology, 70(1): 70-89.

A Longitudinal Analysis of Ethnic Unemployment Differentials in the UK

As in many developed countries, in the UK the unemployment rate of ethnic minorities is higher than the unemployment rate of the white British majority. These differences may be due to a higher probability of ethnic minorities entering unemployment by losing a job, or to a lower probability of exiting unemployment by finding a job. Using Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, this paper analyses what individual and job characteristics contribute to job loss, what contribute to job finding, and to what extent ethnic unemployment differentials can be explained by such characteristics.

For both men and women the results show no relevant ethnic differences in the probability to transition from a paid job into unemployment. Only Indian UK born women seem more likely to transition than white British majority women, while for other groups the small differences are in favour of ethnic minorities. Segregation in occupations characterised by low wages and less stable jobs does not seem to contribute to the higher unemployment rate of ethnic minorities. The main determinant of ethnic unemployment differentials seems to be the longer duration of unemployment for ethnic minorities, which, however, remains largely unexplained after the inclusion of individual and household characteristics.

Longhi S. (2020) A Longitudinal Analysis of Ethnic Unemployment Differentials in the UK, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 46(5): 879-892.

Couples’ Response to Job Loss: Boom and Recession Compared

We examine whether couples in the UK increase labour supply to cushion the fall in earnings from a job loss, comparing periods of growth and recession. We consider both male and female earners and various dimensions of labour supply adjustment. We find evidence of labour supply reactions, but they can be negative as well as positive, particularly at the extensive margin. During the recession, household reactions are either unchanged or couples increase their labour market attachment, with bigger positive reactions and smaller negative ones. People do not react in advance of job losses, suggesting that unemployment is a surprise.

Bryan M., Longhi S. (2018) Couples’ Response to Job Loss: Boom and Recession Compared, The Manchester School, 86(3) 333-357.

Employment and Earning Differences in the Early Career of Ethnic Minority British Graduates

Ethnic minorities in the U.K. are more likely than the white majority to gain university qualifications, but experience worse labour market outcomes on average. This paper compares employment and earnings of British graduates from ethnic minorities to those of white British graduates to analyse whether ethnic labour market differences exist among the highly qualified, and whether they can be explained by differences in parental background, local area characteristics or differences in university careers. These factors account for a substantial part of persistent ethnic differences in earnings, but explain very little of the differences in employment. Compared to the literature estimating ethnic labour market inequalities on people with any level of qualification, we find smaller ethnic differences in employment and almost no differences in earnings among graduates entering the labour market. The results are robust to various changes in model specification.

Zwysen W., Longhi S. (2018) Employment and Earning Differences in the Early Career of Ethnic Minority British Graduates: the Importance of University Career, Parental Background and Area Characteristics, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 44(1) 154-172.

Racial Wage Differentials in Developed Countries

In many developed countries, racial and ethnic minorities are paid, on average, less than the native white majority. While racial wage differentials are partly the result of immigration, they also persist for racial minorities of second and further generations. Eliminating racial wage differentials and promoting equal opportunities among citizens with different racial backgrounds is an important social policy goal since inequalities resulting from differences in opportunities lead to a waste of talent and of resources.

Since minority groups segregate in poorly paid occupations and lack career progression, we may have racial wage differentials even in the absence of direct wage discrimination.  Policy should be based on a better understanding of what characteristics and situations prevent racial minorities from moving into better jobs; discrimination and unconscious bias within and outside the workplace may be part of the reason.

Longhi S. (2020) Racial Wage Differentials in Developed Countries, IZA World of Labor, 2020: 365.v2

Here you can listen to the related IZA World of Labor Blog.  Racial wage differentials in developed countries: Simonetta Longhi in discussion with Dan Hamermesh.