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Social Inequality

Research on social inequality studies why access to scarce goods, such as economic resources, social status, cultural influence, and political power, are unequally distributed in society. We seek to understand both the reasons why inequality arises and the consequences of inequality in different domains of society.

Buildings in Oslo city centre

Photo: Jarli & Jordan/UiO

Inequality research at ISS has a broad scope, which is exemplified below. We focus on change over time, cross-national comparisons, and inequality between groups based on ascriptive traits such as social background, gender, or ethnic origin.


  • Norway is often highlighted as an egalitarian country with smaller economic and social inequalities than many rich countries in the West. Why is income inequality, housing segregation, and labor market polarization increasing, and why is inequality in wealth so high from an international perspective?

  • Children's life chances should be less determined by family background in Norway than in many other countries. But still, as adults, we often resemble our parents in terms of class status, earnings, wealth, and education. Why is this so?

  • In contemporary Norway, women complete more education than men. A rising number of low-educated men fall out of employment, some of whom experience an increased risk of marginalization, poor health, and criminal careers. Simultaneously, women, on average, still earn less than men and have poorer access to society's top positions. Why is this so?

  • Why do immigrants often struggle in the labor market while many of their native-born descendants experience socio-economic progress?

ISS conducts internationally leading research using various theoretical perspectives, analytical methods, and empirical data. Our research covers quantitative studies of administrative data and surveys, as well as qualitative methods such as document analysis, interview studies and participatory observation. At ISS, we also offer high-quality research-based teaching on social inequality.


Anne Krogstad
Adrian Farner Rogne
Alexi Gugushvili
Jan Grue
Marianne Nordli Hansen
Torstein Storsveen Throndsen
Cathrine Holst
Solveig Topstad Borgen
Marte Lund Saga
Are Skeie Hermansen
Trude Lappegård
Torkild Lyngstad
Mats Eirik Lillehagen
Karoline Blix Hjelle
Torbjørn Skardhamar
Terje Wessel
Inga Sæther
Øyvind Nicolay Wiborg
Aleksander Madsen
Sabina Tica

Published July 20, 2022 9:14 PM - Last modified Nov. 29, 2022 8:33 AM