UK Data Service Data Impact Fellows 2023: Niels Blom

Niels BlomWe are delighted to announce Niels Blom as one of our Data Impact Fellows for 2023. In this post Niels shares a bit about his background, his current work and research and what he hopes to get out of the Fellows scheme.

About me

I am a Research Fellow at the Violence and Society Centre at City, University of London, where I work as a core member of the UKPRP Violence, Health and Society (VISION) consortium. The consortium is a major 5 year investment by the UKRI/MRC aiming to use data to reduce violence and resulting health and social inequalities. Here, I investigate violence and abuse and its relationship with job loss, health, and wellbeing, with a particular focus on intimate partner violence and abuse. Additionally, I am responsible for a programme of work harmonising and integrating data from various surveys and administrative records regarding violence and abuse.

Before starting at City, I worked at the University of Bath where I investigated how the division of housework and employment between partners is related to one’s wages. Previously, I researched how couples’ relationship quality is associated with family formation, including marriage and childbearing decisions at the University of Southampton. I was awarded a PhD from Radboud University in the Netherlands in 2019 in which I investigated how economic inequalities within and between couples affected relationship quality.

Past work: Economic inequality and couples’ relationship

In my past research at the University of Southampton and before that during my PhD at Radboud University in the Netherlands, I studied how socioeconomic inequalities between partners and between different couples are related to couple’s relationship quality, marriage, fertility, and wellbeing.

This research has shown that economic problems have a strong impact on a couple’s relationship quality. Those who are more financially deprived, unemployed, and job insecure, report being less satisfied with their relationship.

My research shows that gender norms play a crucial role in how couples are affected by economic problems, as especially men’s unemployment and job insecurity affects how happy or satisfied people are with their relationship. Furthermore, my work shows that relationship quality itself impacts relationship formation, particularly marriage, but has limited influence on the transition to parenthood in the UK.

My work at Bath centred around wages and the division of housework and employment between partners in the UK. Here, we found that only elite men’s wages were significantly greater when they were the sole breadwinner and their partners did most of the housework. Everyone else is either better off or no worse off in terms of their wages with a more equal division of paid work and housework within the couple.

Current work: Economic impact of violence and abuse

My current work addresses how victimisation is related to job loss, health and wellbeing. Here, I’m looking at the experiences and effects of violence and abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional abuse, as well as violence/abuse by different types of perpetrators (e.g. intimate partners). Violence and abuse have been shown to incur widespread consequences for wellbeing and health. However, the impacts of violence and abuse on the labour market are often overlooked, which I study in this programme of work.

Being victimised can have severe physical and mental impacts, but on top of that, this research shows that victim-survivors are at higher risk of losing their employment, further impacting their wellbeing. We are using the Understanding Society survey and Crime Survey for England and Wales to investigate this issue. Our preliminary findings show that violence and abuse contributes to subsequent job loss, indicative of the importance impact on poverty, and deprivation. This is potentially due to the impact on victim’s wellbeing.

It’s not just individual victimisation that affects labour market outcomes, the level of crime and violence in the local environment is also a factor. Preliminary results show that fear of crime and avoidance of public spaces is linked to reduced labour market attachment, meaning people are less likely to enter the labour force and more likely to leave the labour market.

My future plans

Violence and abuse is a way through which structural economic disadvantage is reproduced, as people who are more economically deprived are more likely to be victimised and living in higher crime neighbourhoods, which in turn raises the risk of job loss. It is this cycle of economic disadvantage and violence that is generally overlooked in both criminology and the study of socioeconomic stratification.

I am looking to help bridge this gap as a UKDS Data Impact Fellow, to help to reduce the economic consequences for victims of violence. Therefore, I intend to facilitate a policy stakeholder workshop, between academics and key policy stakeholders on the link between victimisation and job loss, to share best practices to reduce the impact of victimisation.

Additionally, to help to improve data infrastructure I will engage with data collectors regarding operationalisation and measurement of violence experience and its labour market consequences to ensure better evaluation of the economic impact of violence is possible in the future.

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