We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. Do You agree?

Read more

I.3.9. Human mobility and inequalities as seen through digital datasources – info

IDUB Programme Objective(s)

  • I.3 Support for the creation of research programmes and teams that will become future centres of excellence, including plans for their internationalisation

Name of POB/activity group



The main objective of this activity is to set up a research programme at UW using new types of data (digital data, as well as harmonised and integrated data from different sources). These may be used for carrying out innovative research on determinants, measurements, the effects of territorial and social mobility, and economic inequality – especially in areas related to the labour market. These issues are among the most pressing social challenges of today. The development of research tools in this area would strengthen the global position of UW in the social sciences and improve its publication capacity on topics of broad and growing interest.

The desired effect of the activity is the consolidation and reinforcement of the potential of researchers (those who are already working, or who are encouraged to cooperate with UW) on three main levels:

  1. The ability to publish in high impact journals, in areas related to studies on mobility and inequality, using new, harmonised data. These publications will be produced further to research projects that have been funded under the action and reflect the work of post-doc researchers.
  2. The possibility of creating consortia capable of competing and winning in the most prestigious national (NCN MAESTRO) and foreign (Horizon Europe) competitions requiring an interdisciplinary approach.
  3. The initiation of research cooperation by a consolidated team from the University of Warsaw with the leading academic centres in the world in the areas of mobility and inequality issues. This will be achieved by financing trips for UW employees to foreign centres, and visits by well-known foreign researchers to UW.

By consolidating existing resources, it will be possible to develop new theoretical or methodological approaches, among other things; researchers who study inequalities and mobility at UW will be invited to participate in the development of new databases. These databases will be presented in open seminars and made available to researchers for their own work. Methodological support and opportunities to collaborate on effective data use will also be offered.

The experience of researchers in this field, among others from the Faculty of Economic Sciences, the Centre of Migration Research, DELab, EUROREG, the Faculty of Sociology, the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences and Resocialisation, the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations, and several other units from UW will be integral to these activities.


Territorial mobility, social mobility (intra- and inter-generational), and economic inequalities are currently among the most frequently examined problems in the social sciences. This is largely due to the intensification of negative or potentially negative trends in recent decades, such as growing economic inequality in many developed countries and declining economic and social mobility in many Western societies. At the same time, the scale of territorial mobility has significantly increased, especially the concentration of certain types of migration (such as labour migration, family reunification, and refugee movements) in highly developed countries, including those in the EU. In response to these phenomena, a significant body of literature has emerged on measuring mobility and inequality, as well as their determinants and effects. Work on these problems in recent years has led to some of the most frequently cited publications in the social sciences. At the same time, research in these areas poses a major methodological and disciplinary challenge, as such studies usually go beyond the narrowly defined disciplines of the social sciences; therefore, the literature in these fields has increasingly incorporated new types of data from previously unavailable digital sources (satellite data, data from social media and mobile phones, administrative data, etc.) or which are the result of a combination of data from different sources (e.g., revenue data combined with other data taken from surveys, tax records, and macroeconomic databases). Data sets like these, which used to be difficult to obtain or verify, now allow for innovative research with much greater accuracy. Under this activity, new or harmonised databases in the areas of economic and social inequalities and mobility will be developed for innovative research purposes. The demand for studies on data is growing in global science and this activity aims to enable researchers at UW to initiate and carry out innovative research that can be published in leading social science journals. The creation of a kind of “critical mass” of publications also increases the University’s chances to emerge as a major research institution in this area, and to cooperate with the best European and world centres.

Several mobility and inequality research projects have been launched so far at UW, which use new data sources (Centre of Migration Research, DELab, EUROREG, the Faculty of Economic Sciences). However, this research has been scattered and has not fully exploited the University’s potential. As well, there has not been much connection between the two themes mentioned in the title of this activity – mobility, and inequalities. By creating new databases of digital and multi-source integrated data, Action I.3.9 will allow for a synergy of existing research within various units at UW, and for higher standards of work through establishing cooperation with leading foreign centres. By ensuring consistent financing for this research track, there will be significant, permanent effects (mainly in the form of publications in prestigious international journals).

Tasks / projects within the tasks

In line with the objectives mentioned above, and with regard to the expected results of the activities being undertaken, we plan to focus on enabling access to new, harmonised or integrated data sets, promoting innovative research, creating new teams and research groups, and exploiting the full potential of international cooperation.

We envisage taking the following actions (in each case, they will relate to the two main areas of interest, e.g., inequality and mobility, and how they relate to each other):

  1. The acquisition of data collected under research projects, and the purchasing of data sets that are not already at the disposal of the University of Warsaw (e.g., census data, administrative data, survey data, and “big data” sets).
  2. The harmonisation of the above-mentioned data sets (such as combining them to allow for comprehensive quantitative and qualitative analyses) and adding necessary metadata. One of the activities will be the creation of unified data on household incomes in Poland from the last 30 years, based on surveys, tax records, and macroeconomic data. These data will enable comprehensive, innovative research projects, which until now have not been possible to carry out.
  3. Using the existing data repositories at UW – both quantitative and qualitative – to store and share data dedicated to both areas.
  4. The organisation of seminars and webinars to introduce the analysis of the above-mentioned data.
  5. Competitions for small-scale projects (up to 40,000 PLN), which are related in principle to the innovative use of data (or to the creation new sets, e.g., “big data”, which will ultimately be stored in the repository) or will lead to the creation of research teams and the preparation of a project application financed by grant agencies.
  6. Post-doc competitions, mainly intended for outstanding young researchers with innovative proposals/approaches to research on inequalities and mobility.
  7. The organisation of an international conference (an IMISCOE conference, in 2022 or 2023), which will focus on the relationship between the two areas.

This activity is open, and the entire UW community is invited to take part in it. Those with interests that are consistent with the profile of this activity will be able to receive a “package” of tools, including access to data, substantive support, mentoring, financing for research mobility, and support for innovative research activities.

Coordinating unit

  • Faculty of Economic Sciences

Entities involved in implementation

  • Centre of Migration Research
  • Institute of Sociology
  • DELab
  • CIS
  • Faculty of Applied Social Sciences and Resocialisation (WSNSiR)