Keynote Speakers

Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2019 - , University of Essex

Professor Tarani ChandolaUniversity of Manchester

Work, health and wellbeing: some biosocial perspectives

With the advent of novel biomarkers measing different aspects of human biology being collected in large surveys, there has been an explosion of biosocial studies on associations between new biomarkers and social phenotypes. Alongside, there has been increasing criticism of the methods and theoretical implications of these biosocial studies from sociologists, anthropologists and other social sciences. While much of the critical focus has been on the biological-to-social framework, this keynote talk will highlight some social-to-biological research examples within the sociology or work, health and wellbeing using data from Understanding Society.

Tarani Chandola is a Professor of Medical Sociology at the University of Manchester. His research is primarily on the social determinants of health, focusing on health inequalities and psychosocial factors, and the analysis of longitudinal cohort studies. Much of his research is on the social determinants of health with a focus on stress at work, and its psychophysiological effects on health. He is a research leader on the topic of work and health, with two of his papers in the top 10 most cited studies on the topic of work stress. His research expertise spans different disciplines- population and public health, epidemiology, social statistics and sociology- and different methodological approaches. He has had leadership and advisory roles within international research organisations, government departments and academic bodies. Tarani was the head of the Department of Social Statistics (2012-2014) at the University of Manchester and the director of the Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (2014-2016). He is currently a co-director of two Economic and Social Research Council funded centres: the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM: and the International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health. He also co-directs the SOC-B: the Social-Biological Centre for Biosocial Research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Professor Hill KuluUniversity of St Andrews

Family dynamics among immigrants and their descendents in Europe

This presentation is based on three comparative studies, which investigate partnership and family patterns among immigrants and their descendants in selected European countries. We analyse partnership formation and dissolution, determinants of intermarriage between natives and immigrants, and childbearing patterns among immigrants and their descendants. Using data from seven European countries the studies show, first, significant diversity in partnership patterns and family forms among immigrants and their descendants within and between the countries. Second, the analyses reveal that partnership and childbearing patterns of the descendants of immigrants are in-between those of immigrants and natives, although they vary across groups and also by dimensions of family life. Third, the studies show that the country context also matters, i.e. institutional factors shape partnership and childbearing behaviour of ethnic minorities. We discuss the results of the three studies in the light of competing approaches to immigrant and ethnic minority integration.

Hill Kulu is Professor of Human Geography and Demography at the University of St Andrews. Hill's substantive research interests lie in the field of family, fertility, migration and health studies; his methodological interests include the development and application of longitudinal models in social science research. Hill's research has advanced our understanding of how family changes and residential choices interact in people’s lives and how residential context shapes childbearing, migration and health behaviour of individuals. He has published over forty peer-reviewed articles in international journals and have edited three books published by international publishers. 

Hill is currently working on two large research projects. Changing Families and Sustainable Societies, a joint four-year (2013–2017) project of 25 European Universities and research institutes, is funded by the EU 7th Framework Programme. Partner Relationships, Residential Relocations and Housing in the Life Course is a joint three-year (2014–2017) project of the Universities of St Andrews, Cologne and Groningen.

Monica Costa DiasInstitute for Fiscal Studies

The gender pay gap in the UK: children, human capital and occupation

The gender pay gap remains high and has ceased to fall over the last decade. Past work has shown that it is closely linked to family formation, widening over the course of life with the arrival of children and the intermittent working patterns that characterise the careers of mothers. We show that such intermittent patterns can only explain between 30 and 60 percent of the opening of the gender pay gap, depending on education attainment. We then explore a different hypothesis, namely that mothers prefer jobs located close to their home in order to minimise commuting time, and that this limits their opportunities in work and negatively affects wage progression. Using the BHPS-USOC data combined with geographical information and vacancy data, we show evidence supporting this hypothesis and of its consequences for female wages

Monica Costa Dias  is an Associate Director at the IFS and a Research Economist at the Centre for Economics and Finance, University of Porto. Her research interests are mainly on Labour Economics and the Economics of Education, with a focus on the determinants of individual and household choices, including human capital investments, labour supply and intra-household allocation of resources, and their consequences for inequality and the evaluation and design of tax and welfare policies.