Professor Karen Rowlingson

Professor of Social Policy

Applied Social Studies

Professor Karen Rowlingson

Contact details

School of Social Policy, IASS
Muirhead Tower, Room 925
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom


Karen is a Professor of Social Policy in the Institute of Applied Social Studies as well as being Director of the Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM).


Karen joined IASS in February 2007 as Professor of Social Policy.  Karen is Director of the Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM), launched in May 2010.  From 2010-2012 she was the Vice Chair of the ESRC's Research Committee and Chair of its Grants Delivery Group.  Karen previously worked at the Universities of Bath and Derby as well as at the Policy Studies Institute and in market research.  She has degrees in history, sociology and social policy.   

She is also a member of the 'No Angels' 6-aside university women's intra-league soccer team.


Karen is currently teaching on the BA and MA in Social Policy. Her teaching specialism lies in research methods, social security policy and economic inequality.


Karen's research interests lie within the field of social policy and focus on the financial security of individuals, families and households including: assets and asset-based welfare; poverty, wealth and inequality; social security policy; financial capability and education (including savings, pensions, credit and debt).  As well as looking at individual behaviour in relation to personal finance she is interested in the role of the state, the financial services sector, employers and the third sector in delivering financial security.  Her research is strongly empirical involving a broad range of rigorous research methods. She has a particularly strong methodological expertise in designing quantitative surveys and mixing qualitative with quantitative methods.

Current/recent work includes:

  • Research for the Friends Provident Foundation to monitor financial inclusion (2012-2017)
  • Research for Leverhulme Trust on inter-generational justice and wealth inequality (2011-2014)
  • Research for AHRC on responsibilities, ethics and the financial crisis (2011-2014)
  • University of Birmingham Policy Commission on the Distribution of Wealth (2012-2013)
  • Research on the impact of income inequality for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2010-2011)
  • A project, funded by the ESRC, to investigate attitudes to inequality through analysis of a new module of questions on the 2009 British Social Attitudes Survey (with Michael Orton of Warwick University and the National Centre for Social Research) (2009-2011)
  • Research on financial education in schools involving group discussions with children in two Birmingham schools in contrasting areas (inner city and suburb) (2010)
  • Research on the role of housing associations in relation to savings for people on low-incomes.
  • A book on 'Wealth and the Wealthy' for The Policy Press (with Stephen McKay).
  • Supervising three doctoral researchers: Louise Overton on attitudes to equaity release; and John Moss on access to financial advice; and Soniya Wazed on social exclusion and gender in Bangledesh.


Rowlingson, K and McKay, S (2012), Wealth and the Wealthy: Exploring and tackling inequalities between rich and poor, Bristol: The Policy Press.

Appleyard, L and Rowlingson, K (2011), 'Housing and Economic Inequality' in Anderson, I and Sim, D (eds), Housing and Social Inequality, London: Chartered Institute of Housing.

McKay, S and Rowlingson, K (2011), 'Social Security and Welfare Reform' in Bochel, H (ed) The Conservatives and Social Policy, Bristol: The Policy Press.

McKay, S and Rowlingson, K (2011 forthcoming), 'The Religion of Inequality' in Holmwood, J (ed) A Manifesto for the Public University, London: Bloomsbury.

Rowlingson, K and Connor, S (2011), 'The 'deserving' rich?  Inequality, morality and social policy' in Journal of Social Policy, 40,3, 437-452.

Rowlingson, K (2011) 'All in this together? Reflections on wealth, the wealthy and fairness' in Yeates, N, Haux, T, Jawad, R and Kilkey, M (eds) In Defence of Welfare: the impacts of the spending review, Social Policy Association.

Appleyard, L and Rowlingson, K (2010) , Home ownership and the distribution of personal wealth, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Rowlingson, K (2010), Going for Broke, Parliamentary Brief, September 2010.

Rowlingson, K, Orton, M and Taylor, E (2010) 'Do we still care about inequality?' in Park, A, Curtice, J, Clery, E and Bryson, D (eds), British Social Attitudes: the 27th report: exploring Labour's legacy, London: Sage.

Rowlingson, K and Joseph, R (2010), Assets and debts in couples, London: Friends Provident Foundation

Follow this link for further publications by Professor Karen Rowlingson (pdf; 76KB; opens in new window)


The financial security of individuals, families and households including: assets and asset-based welfare; poverty, wealth and inequality; inheritance and inheritance tax; social security policy; financial planning and money management; financial inclusion and capability; savings; pensions

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office

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