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Professor Karen Rowlingson
Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Professor of Social Policy



Karen Rowlingson joined the University of York in May 2022 as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Professor of Social Policy. Prior to this she had spent 15 years at the University of Birmingham where she held a number of senior leadership roles including Deputy Head of the College of Social Sciences and Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement and Impact. Karen was Founding Director of CHASM (the Research Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management) in 2010 and is now an Honorary Professor at the Centre.

Karen has also held broader leadership roles in her field as Chair of the Social Policy Association (from 2019-2022), Member of REF 2021 sub-panel for Social Work and Social Policy (UoA 20), Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on Financial Exclusion (2016-17) and Vice Chair of the ESRC's Research Committee and Chair of its Grants Delivery Group (2010-2012). Karen has been a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences since 2013.



Karen’s research focuses on issues of poverty, wealth and economic inequality with a particular interest in the social security and tax systems. Her research is strongly applied and empirical, drawing on a range of methods and approaches. 



Karen has contributed to teaching at all levels with a particular focus on poverty, wealth and economic inequality. From the very start of launching CHASM (a research centre focusing on issues of economic inequality) in 2010, she was committed to bringing research and teaching together and core CHASM staff led and contributed to modules at all levels linked to the broad issues covered by the research in the Centre; provided the opportunity for paid internships in the Centre for students; invited students to Centre events; invited research staff to teaching sessions when external speakers or Doctoral Researchers were presenting to students.  


In 2020/2021 she took on additional teaching responsibilities during the Covid pandemic given the unprecedented challenges universities faced including hybrid (face-to-face and online) lectures/seminars/tutorials in the Autumn term and then fully online teaching in the Spring term – on both the BA and MA Social Policy and Sociology Programmes – with flipped classroom approaches being at the heart of this work. 

She has also supported 11 Doctoral Researchers to be successfully awarded their PhDs on topics varying from experiences of using equity release products in the UK (Louise Overton), savings attitudes and behaviour in Malaysia (Amer Azlan), ‘generation rent’ in the UK (Ben Pattison), financial inclusion policy in Indonesia (Resya Kania), access to independent financial advice in the UK (John Moss), and financial capability of university students in Indonesia (Irni Johan).


Selected publications

Selected Publications in 2020/21

Rowlingson, K, Sood, A and Tu, T (2021) Public attitudes to a wealth tax: the importance of ‘capacity to pay’, Fiscal Studies, 42, 3-4,

McKay, S and Rowlingson, K (2021) Financial inclusion monitor 2021, University of Birmingham (9th of 10 commissioned annual monitors)

McKay, S and Rowlingson, K (2021) Want: Still the easiest giant to attack? Social Policy & Administration, Early View

Gregory, J Lymer, A and Rowlingson, K (2021) ‘Personal Savings for Those on Lower Incomes: Towards a New Framework for Assessing the Role of the State in Relation to Savings Schemes’, Social Policy & Society, Online FirstView

Davis, A, Hecht, K, Hirsch, D, Burchardt, T, Gough, I, Rowlingson, K and Summers, K (2020), Living on Different Incomes in London: Can public consensus identify a ‘riches line’? Trust for London

Johan, I, Rowlingson, K and Appleyard, L (2020) The Effect of Personal Finance Education on The Financial Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviour of University Students in Indonesia, Journal of Family and Economic Issues,

Selected Highlights in last ten years

Rowlingson, K, Joseph, R and Overton, L (2017) Inter-generational financial gifts and inequality: Give and take in 21st century British families, Palgrave Macmillan

Rowlingson, K. Appleyard, L. and Gardner, J. (2016) Payday lending in the UK: the regul(aris)ation of a necessary evil? Journal of Social Policy, 45, 3, 527-543

Rowlingson, K (2011) Does income inequality cause health and social problems?  York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Rowlingson, K and McKay, S (2011) Wealth and the Wealthy: exploring and tackling inequalities between rich and poor, Bristol: The Policy Press

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

Contact details

Professor Karen Rowlingson
Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Professor of Social Policy
School for Business and Society
University of York