It is well-known that people growing up in disadvantaged areas are at greater risk of dropping out of school and experiencing limited labour market opportunities.
It is less known whether the impact of growing up in such environments varies at different stages of a person’s childhood. And even less is known about what measures could work to break or mitigate the negative consequences.
“Our project is mainly about tracing the effects of neighbourhoods and schools on children from birth to young adulthood and identifying systematic ways to address inequalities that crop up because of different exposures to neighbourhood and school disadvantage,” says associate professor Benjamin Jarvis in the Department of Management and Engineering.
Six-year research project
Benjamin Jarvis will manage the six-year project recently granted just over SEK 17 million by the Swedish Research Council. The research team will address the problem from different angles.
The team wants to examine how neighbourhood and school segregation come about and evolve. They will also look at the importance of family background and what effect parents’ choice of housing and school have on their children at various stages of childhood. They will then try to estimate the impact of various factors on work and educational opportunities later in life.
Ultimately, the researchers plan to use computer simulations to combine their findings and test the effects of different policy decisions.
How would segregation and educational opportunities be affected should policy makers decide to halt, or speed up, housing developments in certain areas? What happens if single family homes and owner-occupied flats are prioritised over rental housing? What are the implications of closing down schools, or opening new ones, in particular areas? What impact would prioritising private schools over municipal schools have?
“Each of these decisions may have consequences for inequality and segregation in the near term and the long term. We hope to help policy makers and the public understand what those consequences might be and, subsequently, make better informed decisions,” says Dr. Jarvis.
The research team includes Dr. Jarvis, Martin Arvidsson, Maria Brandén, Adel Daoud, Laura Fürsich, Peter Hedström, Selcan Mutgan, Erik Rosenqvist, and Eduardo Tapia from the Department of Management and Engineering, Miriah Meyer from the Department of Science and Technology, and Elizabeth Bruch from the University of Michigan.
Translation: Anneli Mosell