MIP network member Rasmus Landersø recently met with HCEO to discuss his research on social mobility in Denmark.
"The determinants of different life trajectories are one of the most central aspects of social sciences, not only from an academic perspective, but also from a policy perspective," Landersø says. "Because if we don't understand the roots of inequality, it's hard to address them by policies."
Landersø studies the determinants of equality of opportunity through the lens of the Scandinavian welfare state, which he knows well as a native of Denmark. He is interested in learning what different welfare policies do and don't do. He notes that while Scandinavian countries are widely praised for these policies, and for having low levels of income inequality, there are still substantial inequalities in areas such as health or education. "This of course raises questions about what the underlying mechanisms of inequality are," he says.
He notes that individual life outcomes in Denmark are still highly dependent on background. "You can't redistribute human capital," he says, which is an area where inequality exists.
He is also interested in studying the unintended consequences of social welfare policies. For example, he notes that while high social transfers reduce income inequality, it could also reduce the incentive to acquire education.
Landersø says that there are still many open questions about the role of the power of place, another of his research areas. For instance, does the neighborhood you grow up in influence you the same way as the country you grow up in? Or do your peers have the same amount of influence as your parents?
"These are open questions and I don't have the answers to them but I hope to get close to that in research in the future," he says. "Because it's pivotal to know this if we are to address in inequality from a policy perspective."
Landersø is a Senior Researcher at the Rockwool Foundation Research Unit.