The project is drawing on leading minds across the social sciences to assemble the evidence on the causes and consequences of different forms of inequalities, and the ways that they can best be reduced or mitigated.
Led by an interdisciplinary panel chaired by Nobel Laureate Sir Angus Deaton and comprising world leaders in economics, sociology, philosophy, political science and epidemiology, there are two broad phases of work.
Assembling the evidence on inequalities
The panel is first commissioning studies and commentaries on a large number of key themes. This is involving dozens more of the world’s best thinkers, who are bringing together the best of the existing evidence with new analysis. The nature of the evidence ranges from studying the experiences of people at the sharp end of inequalities to analysing large-scale datasets to learn about how people’s family lives and careers evolve. Diversity of topics, perspectives and methods is key – the only criteria for inclusion are that it is of the highest quality and relevant to inequalities in the developed world.
That work is being completed during 2022 and will be brought together in a published volume (the first of two that the project will produce). This will form the core evidence base of the review. Throughout the production of this work we will be publishing new data and analysis on a regular basis, and providing opportunities for engagement with government, researchers, the media, and the public.
To give a sense of the breadth and ambition of the project, the themes to be covered here will include: which inequalities matter and why they matter; people’s attitudes towards inequality; the political economy of inequality; the history of inequality; trends in economic inequalities; intergenerational inequalities; health inequalities; geographical inequalities; gender; race and ethnicity; immigration; early child development; education systems; families; social mobility; trade and globalisation; productivity, growth and innovation; labour markets; tax policy; and welfare policy.
Using the evidence to build a coherent policy agenda
In the second phase of the project, the expert panel will bring together the rich insights from the evidence volume to build a comprehensive and coherent narrative around the key questions that motivated the project in the first place: which inequalities matter, why do they matter, how are they related, what causes them, and what can be done about them.
A particular focus will be on providing comprehensive and practical policy guidance. This will be not simply about the impacts of specific policies on specific inequalities, as so much research is. It will be about the overall policy mix, which tools are best for which job, and how different policy options – whether it be competition policy and tax, or minimum wages and tax credits, or place-based interventions and family-level ones – can be made to work effectively together.
We will ensure that the conclusions here are useful and usable for the UK in the twenty first century, but they will also be applicable to governments across the developed world.
The findings will be published as a short book, comprising the second and final volume of the review.