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Pakistan signs agreement to develop a national Multidimensional Poverty Index

Pakistan’s Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and OPHI have signed an agreement to develop a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for Pakistan.

The signing marks the beginning of the process of regularly calculating a new poverty index for Pakistan which will be based on the Alkire Foster method developed at OPHI. This method underlies the Global MPI, an international measure of acute poverty covering over 100 developing countries which has been calculated by OPHI and published in UNDP’s flagship Human Development Report since 2010.

At the signing, Pakistan’s Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal said: “The traditional one-dimensional indices cannot reflect the true poverty levels in Pakistan. The MPI is more comprehensive, integrated and holistic as it covers education, health and living standards. This partnership between the Government, UNDP and University of Oxford will help us understand, and better address issues related to poverty in Pakistan.”

A comprehensive national report on multidimensional poverty at the district and provincial level is being prepared using Pakistan Social & Living Standard Measurement (PSLM) survey data for the last four to five years, the Dawn newspaper reported. Pakistan’s MPI will enable policymakers to ‘develop robust revenue-sharing formulas for the National Finance Commission and provincial NFC awards for allocation of resources to provinces and districts’, it said.

Marc-André Franche, UNDP Country Director in Pakistan, said: “The MPI is crucial for policymaking and improving the targeting of social policy. It is vital to develop a robust revenue formula, improve policy design and monitor effectiveness of policy over time. Each country needs to choose dimensions that are most important for measuring poverty. In Pakistan, this is the first step for measuring the multidimensional poverty both at the federal and provincial levels and UNDP is extremely pleased to be part of this process.”

The signing followed a 10-day training course on the AF method at the Pakistan Planning and Management Institute in Islamabad, which was run by OPHI’s Director Sabina Alkire with researchers Adriana Conconi and Moizza Sarwar.

In addition to the report in the Dawn newspaper, the signing was covered by The News, The Hindu, The Express Tribune, The Nation, Pakistan Today and the Business Recorder.

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OPHI takes part in Effective Cooperation Conference in Mexico City

OPHI Research Associate, John Hammock, will speak at the First High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Cooperation taking place in Mexico City this week, on 15- 16 April 2014.

The conference will be attended by over 1500 development leaders – including  President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría – and aims to reaffirm the importance of effective development cooperation in meeting the MDGs and as a key part of the next global development framework.

Hammock will speak in session 29, on 16 April 2014, titled ’Country classification systems and the “middle income country trap”: towards a more comprehensive approach’. The session  will discuss the role and effects of country classification systems and consider the alternatives to per capita income criterion in the allocation of overseas development assistance.

OPHI will also have a stand at the conference which will have materials on the 2013 global MPI, published in UNDP’s flagship Human Development Report since 2010, as well as case studies on countries that have adopted official national MPIs.

Information will also be available on the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN) – a new network for policymakers – that brings together Ministers and senior officials from over 25 countries and international institutions interested in or in the process of developing national MPIs. The stand will also showcase the network’s proposal for a new global MPI to support the post-2015 development process – the MPI2015+ which is intended to help ensure poverty in all its forms is eradicated after 2015.

You can find out more about the conference here.

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Government of Spain calls for the adoption of a multidimensional poverty index post-2015

The Government of Spain has issued a statement calling for an index of multidimensional poverty to be incorporated in the new development agenda after 2015, when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire.

The Government’s General Secretariat of International Cooperation for Development (SGCID) issued the statement following a workshop held in Salamanca on ‘Development with equality: Reducing inequality in middle-income countries’, in which OPHI took part. The workshop was hosted by the Government of Spain on 20-21 March 2014 and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

‘Over recent years, the international community has made significant progress in the fight against absolute poverty thanks to the Millennium Development Goals momentum. However, the way in which this phenomenon has been measured up to now is unsatisfactory. The definition of poverty lines based solely on money income limits the perception of a phenomenon that is essentially multidimensional,’ the statement says.

‘Therefore, it is high time to move towards its richer and more comprehensive understanding. In this regard, the progress made by UNDP along with some academic institutions in order to define a multidimensional poverty measure is very positive. This index should be incorporated in the new agenda post-2015.’

SGCID issued the statement – titled ‘Salamanca Conclusions on Equitable Development‘ – with the aim of contributing to discussions on the post-2015 development agenda; most immediately, at the High Level meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, to be held in Mexico on 15-16 April, at which OPHI will also have a presence.

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BRAINPOoL final conference on alternative indicators held in Paris

The BRAINPOoL (Bringing Alternative Indicators into Policy) final conference, which was held in Paris on 24 March, marked the culmination of a two-and-a-half year project which focussed on promoting indicators measuring societal progress in a broader sense than traditional Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The project was set up in October 2011 and is delivered by a consortium of partners across Europe, including universities and think-tanks. Funded by the European Commission, the project aimed to increase the influence of Beyond GDP  indicators in policy, by improving knowledge transfer between those creating and promoting such indicators and their potential users.

During the project, BRAINPOoL analysed the demand for Beyond GDP indicators, catalogued the range of such indicators in use, and looked at the factors which make some indicators more successful than others. Alongside this work, it conducted seven case studies across Europe, looking at where Beyond GDP indicators could be used, in order to identify common barriers to use and how these might be overcome.

BRAINPOoL also produced a fact sheet on Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index, which is based on the Alkire Foster method, citing it as ‘a useful measurement system for surveying people’s subjective feelings about their day to day living conditions’, and highlighting its potential to ‘serve as inspiration for similar tools in different settings’.

You can find out more about the BRAINPOoL project here, and view documents from the final conference here.

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Presentations from UNHDRO’s Measuring Human Progress conference now available

Documents and presentations from the Third Conference on Measuring Human Progress, held by the United Nations Human Development Report Office (UNHDRO) on 10-11 March 2014, are now available.

The conference was attended by over 50 participants from a cross-spectrum of disciplines, including users and producers of statistical indicators. OPHI’s Director Sabina Alkire and Research Associate John Hammock both participated.

The conference set out to explore three broad questions for measuring human progress:

  1. How can experience in measuring human development help inform the selection of indicators for the post-2015 development framework?
  2. Can measures of subjective wellbeing inform future human development reports and measures?
  3. What new and emerging data sources might be considered to help strengthen the way in which the family of human development indices assesses key capabilities around the world?

During the two-day event, keynote speeches were given by Olav Kjorven, Special Adviser to the UNDP Administrator on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on the Millennium Development Goals.

Questions and discussions raised during the conference will be considered by UNHDRO to inform its future research agenda and the next Human Development Reports.

The documents and presentations from the Measuring Human Progress conference can be viewed here.

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Amartya Sen a candidate for Prospect magazine’s World Thinker 2014

Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate in economics and an OPHI advisor, is on Prospect magazine’s list of World Thinkers 2014, with ‘the most important thinker’ to be chosen by the public via an online poll.

An Indian economist and philosopher who is currently a professor at Harvard University, Sen developed the capability approach in which OPHI’s work is grounded. His most recent book, ‘An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions’, co-authored with development economist Jean Drèze, was published in 2013 to widespread acclaim.

Prospect has compiled its list of World Thinkers 2014 in order ‘to identify those engaging most originally and profoundly with the central questions of the world today, and to provoke debate about the role of intellectuals in public life.’

To vote for the candidate you think should be crowned the world’s most important thinker of 2014, click here. The online poll closes at midnight on 11 April 2014.

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New Research in Progress paper proposes multidimensional poverty measure in Ecuador

César A. Amores L., Adviser to the Ministry of Social Development Coordination in Ecuador, has published an OPHI Research in Progress paper in Spanish titled ‘Medición de la Pobreza Multidimensional: El Caso Ecuatoriano’ (‘Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty: The Case of Ecuador’).

The paper discusses the author’s proposal for the implementation of the Alkire Foster method to assess multidimensional poverty in Ecuador. The measure he proposes is initially intended to evaluate progress towards poverty reduction targets, as evaluation is currently done by measuring income poverty.

You can read the paper in full here.

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International workshop on multidimensional poverty measurement held in China

Sabina-presenting-for-websiteThe International Poverty Reduction Center of China (IPRCC) hosted a two-day International Workshop on Accurate Poverty Alleviation and Multidimensional Poverty Measurement on 27-28 March 2014, in Beijing, China. China is a member of the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN).

The workshop was opened by Zheng Wenkai, Deputy Director General of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development of China, and Dr. Zuo Changsheng, Director General of the IPRCC. The keynote speech was given by Sabina Alkire (left), Director of OPHI.  MPPN members from Colombia, Mexico and Minas Gerais (Brazil) shared their experiences of how the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) works as a measurement, policymaking and targeting tool.  The workshop brought together representatives of Chinese regional and national government bodies.

The workshop built on the work of the IPRCC with OPHI over the last years in developing an MPI methodology for use in China.  China also shared its experiences and lessons learned in its application of the Alkire Foster method.  The workshop also explored the operationalisation of the newly formed China Latin America Poverty Reduction Network.

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‘HDI: the old, the new and the elegant’ – podcast now available

You can now download the presentation and podcast of an OPHI lunchtime seminar given by guest speaker Srijit Mishra, Associate Professor at the Indira Ghandi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), on ‘Measuring Human Development Index: The old, the new and the elegant’.

In the lecture, which was given on 13 March 2014, Mishra evaluates three aggregation methods of computing the Human Development Index (HDI). He explores the appropriatenesses of the pre-2010 measure, which used the linear average, and the current measure, which uses geometric mean. He goes on to present a new displaced ideal methodology, proposing the MANUSH axiom: M – monotonicity,  A – anonymity, N – normalization, U – uniformity, S -shortfall sensitivity and H – hiatus sensitivity.

You can listen to the lecture in full and view the slides of the presentation here.

OPHI’s seminar series offers the opportunity to listen to interesting and though-provoking discussions on elements of our research themes. Many of the seminars are made available as audio podcasts afterwards, and can be downloaded from our website along with the presentations given. You can browse previous lectures in the seminar series here.

The OPHI lunchtime seminar series will return in Michaelmas 2014. Make sure you’re kept up to date by signing up to OPHI’s mailing list, joining us on Facebook, or following up on Twitter.

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OPHI takes part in workshop on inequality hosted by Government of Spain

OPHI Director Sabina Alkire was one of the speakers at a workshop in Salamanca on ‘Development with equality: Reducing inequality in middle-income countries’, which was hosted by the Government of Spain and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The meeting, which took place from 20-21 March 2014, brought together international experts to discuss ways of fighting inequality in middle-income countries. Other speakers included Rebeca Grynspan, Associate Administrator at UNDP; Olav Kjørven, Special Advisor to the UNDP Administrator on the Post2015 Development Agenda; and Gonzalo Robles, Secretary-General of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

The conference working sessions considered the rise of middle-income countries; metrics for measuring inequality; the development of policies to combat inequality; and the commitment of international institutions and the Government of Spain to the fight against inequality.

You can read the press release from the workshop here (English) and here (Spanish).

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OPHI’s Seth and Vaz to speak at welfare economics conference in Tokyo

OPHI Research Officers Suman Seth and Ana Vaz will be presenting at a two-day conference at Hitosubashi University in Tokyo, Japan on ‘Welfare Economics and its Applications‘ on 24 and 25 March 2014.

During the first day of the event, Seth will speak on ‘Dominance, Ambiguity and Comparison Robustness of Composite Indices‘, research covered in OPHI working paper 26b, ‘Rank robustness of composite indices: Dominance and ambiguity’, written by Seth with James Foster and Mark McGillivray.

Vaz will lecture on ‘Multidimensional Impact Evaluation‘, making a case for using a multidimensional poverty analysis methodology to assess the impact of poverty reduction programmes.

Other contributors to the event include Norihito Sakamoto of the Tokyo University of Science, who will speak on the second day in a session titled ‘Assessing the Employment Effects of Japanese Employment Policy for People with Disabilities: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Approach’.

You can find out more the conference here.

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Public consultation open on indicators for post-2015 development goals

Indicators for Sustainable Development Goals, a new draft report by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Leadership Council, is open for public consultation until 28 March 2014.

The draft report presents an integrated framework of 100 indicators within the framework of the goals and targets proposed last year by the SDSN, which was set up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilise scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector in support of sustainable development problem solving. It is directed by Jeffrey Sachs, the Secretary-General’s special advisor on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In June 2013, SDSN published a report titled An Action Agenda for Sustainable Development, which proposed 10 goals with 30 associated targets (three per goal). Drawing on the work of the SDSN Thematic Groups, the current indicator report further proposes principles and responsibilities for sustainable development goal (SDG) monitoring.

The draft report includes a proposal for an indicator of extreme multidimensional poverty. This would be an “MDG continuation” indicator that tracks extreme deprivation in income, food security, health, education, and access to basic infrastructure – the core dimensions of the MDGs in a single indicator. It would complement the more traditional $1.25 a day indicator, which measures income poverty alone.

All indicators are at an early stage, and public comments can be submitted using the comment form or sent via email to

You can read more on the SDSN website here.

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Catch up with OPHI’s latest news in the March e-Update!

The latest edition of the e-Update has just been published, and it’s packed with OPHI news, including: the Government of the Philippines adopting a multidimensional poverty measure; deadlines for applicants to this year’s Summer School; a proposal for a multidimensional measure of extreme poverty in Chile; OPHI’s China Mills launching her book on global mental health; and progress on a multidimensional poverty measure for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) region.

To catch up with all the latest news, please see the March issue.

OPHI’s e-Update is a regular digest of opportunities, announcements and publications, highlighting key resources and information materials. To ensure you don’t miss out, sign up to our mailing list and you’ll receive the e-Update as an email every couple of months.

Previous issues of the e-Update are available to download here.

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Government of the Philippines adopts multidimensional poverty measure

The Government of the Philippines has adopted an official multidimensional poverty measure in its updated Philippine Development Plan (2011-2016). The measure has been used to set a key poverty reduction target in an effort to secure inclusive growth and improvements in quality of life in the country, which has nearly 97 million inhabitants.

The updated plan, which spells out the government’s policy actions and investment priorities in 2014-2016, pledges to reduce the incidence of multidimensional poverty to 16-18 percent.

The new multidimensional poverty indicator is based on the Alkire Foster method for multidimensional measurement, developed at OPHI by Sabina Alkire and Professor James Foster. It has been adapted to the national context and priorities of the Philippines.

Balisacan-for-web“Multidimensional poverty incidence, unlike income poverty, looks at deprivation in various dimensions – health, education, access to water, sanitation, secure housing, etc. This indicator can then track the supposed outcomes of the different human development strategies, which impact on future income poverty,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary of the Philippines, Arsenio M. Balisacan (left), of the mid-term update. The Plan seeks to substantially reduce poverty by improving the skill sets of the poorest families and helping get the poor into work.

In September 2013, Balisacan spoke at the UN General Assembly about the benefits of using a multidimensional approach to measuring poverty. He explained that strong economic growth in the Philippines had not translated into expected reductions in income poverty. But a multidimensional poverty measure showed important improvements in other aspects of peoples’ lives – particularly in access to services, education and the accumulation of assets.

You can read a paper on ‘What Has Really Happened to Poverty in the Philippines? New Measures, Evidence, and Policy Implications’ by Arsenio M. Balisacan here.

The additional information provided by a multidimensional poverty measure – which acts as a ‘high resolution’ lens on poverty – has sparked much interest among policymakers worldwide. In June 2013, the global Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network was launched, in response to overwhelming demand for information on implementing such measures.

The Philippines is a key participant in this growing network of innovators in the use of multidimensional poverty measures for more effective poverty reduction.

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‘Measuring HDI: The old, the new and the elegant’ – this Thursday’s lunchtime lecture

This Thursday, 13 March 2014, OPHI is pleased to host guest lecturer Srijit Mishra, Associate Professor at the Indira Ghandi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), who will give a seminar titled ‘Measuring Human Development Index (HDI): The old, the new and the elegant’.

Mishra researches development-related issues and teaches a course on Human Development and Policy at IGIDR in Mumbai. The paper he will present on Thursday evaluates three aggregation methods of computing HDI using a set of axioms, and proposes an alternative measure, where HDI is the additive inverse of the distance from the ideal. This measure, in addition to the above-mentioned axioms, also satisfies shortfall sensitivity (the emphasis on the neglected dimension should be at least in proportion to the shortfall) and hiatus sensitivity to level (higher overall attainment must simultaneously lead to reduction in gap across dimensions).

OPHI’s lunchtime seminar series is open to all, and provides an opportunity to listen to interesting lectures on issues relating to our research themes. Seminars take place from 12-1pm in Seminar Room 3, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford, OX1 3TB. A free sandwich lunch is available on a first come, first served basis.

Many of the seminars are made available as audio podcasts afterwards, and can be downloaded from our website along with the presentations given. You can browse previous lectures and view the full listings for the seminar series here.

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Alkire and Santos paper on global MPI published online in World Development

A paper by OPHI’s Director Sabina Alkire and Research Associate Maria Emma Santos on ‘Measuring Acute Poverty in the Developing World: Robustness and Scope of the Multidimensional Poverty Index’ has been published online in World Development.

The paper presents the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), a measure of acute poverty, understood as a person’s inability to meet minimum international standards in indicators related to the Millennium Development Goals and to core functionings. It constitutes the first implementation of the direct method to measure poverty for over 100 developing countries.

After presenting the MPI, the paper analyses its scope and robustness, with a focus on the data challenges and methodological issues involved in constructing and estimating it. A range of robustness tests indicate that the MPI offers a reliable framework that can complement global income poverty estimates.

‘Measuring Acute Poverty in the Developing World: Robustness and Scope of the Multidimensional Poverty Index’ was first published as OPHI Working Paper 59. It will appear in volume 59 of World Development in July.

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New podcast: ‘Dynamics and drivers of consumption and multidimensional poverty’

A podcast and presentation from the lunchtime lecture given by Sindu Kebede of Humboldt University, Berlin, on ‘Dynamics and drivers of consumption and multidimensional poverty: Evidence from rural Ethiopia’ are now available to download.

In the seminar, which was given on 20 February 2014, Kebede presented research which uses the Alkire Foster method and draws upon the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) proposed in a paper by OPHI’s Sabina Alkire and Maria-Emma Santos to compare changes over time in consumption poverty and multidimensional poverty in rural Ethiopia.

Interestingly, Kebede finds that consumption poverty became more severe over the study time period, while multidimensional poverty declined. The research also suggests that different factors were involved in each case; drivers which proved statistically significant for consumption poverty included household size and shocks such as drought, while with multidimensional poverty, the number of shocks affecting the household proved the significant driver.

You can download the podcast and presentation here.

OPHI’s lunchtime seminars are held on Thursdays during term-time at 12-1pm in Seminar Room 3, QEH. You can view forthcoming seminars, as well as listen to past seminars, here.

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The impact of corruption on peace and development – this week’s lunchtime lecture

This week’s lunchtime seminar, on Thursday 6 March 2014, will be given by Thomas Morgan, Research Fellow at the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), on the subject ‘Assessing the impact of corruption on peace and development: A look at the Global Peace Index and the Mexico Peace Index’.

The Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) is a non-profit think tank conducting research into the relationship between peace, business and prosperity. IEP develops new conceptual frameworks which aim to measure the state of peace, both globally and nationally, and to capture the economic benefits of peace.

The IEP publishes the Global Peace Index (GPI), which is currently the the world’s leading measure of national peacefulness. It has also developed a number of National Peace Indices, including for Mexico and the UK, and the Global Terrorism Index (GTI).

OPHI’s lunchtime seminar series is open to all, and provides an opportunity to listen to interesting lectures on issues relating to our research themes. Seminars take place from 12-1pm in Seminar Room 3, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford, OX1 3TB. A free sandwich lunch is available on a first come, first served basis.

Many of the seminars are made available as audio podcasts afterwards, and can be downloaded from our website along with the presentations given. You can browse previous lectures and view the full listings for the seminar series here.


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OPHI Research Officer gives seminar and launches book on global mental health

OPHI Research Officer China Mills was at Manchester University last week to give a seminar on ‘“Maps that precede the territory”: Simulacra and the global ‘reality’ of mental health’.

The seminar, given at the School of Environment, Education and Development on 25 February 2014, preceded a launch for Mills’ book, Decolonizing Global Mental Health‘, which was published recently by Routledge.

Mills’ talk examined how ‘mental illness’ is made a reality in countries of the global South, via a particular focus on India, through the mapping of prevalence of ‘mental illness’ globally, and through the everyday work of non-governmental organisations. It explored how these maps, as part of the move to visualise ‘data’, divert our attention from who made the map, from where that data comes from, from whose worldview is at the centre of the map, and from what knowledge lies at the edges.

Mills, whose work with OPHI is focused on Social Connectedness and Isolation, part of the Missing Dimensions programme, explored how this mapping entangles with the mapping of other hemispheres, in the ever hopeful search for ‘mental illness’ inside brains, and how the trope of the brain enables psychiatry to embark on a biosocial journey across geographical borders, deep inside populations of the global South.

‘As diagnostic tools developed in the global North are transposed onto countries of the global South, other maps could be drawn, of the erasures of ‘other’ and local ways of knowing, and the projections, inscriptions and encodings of local idioms and socio-economic contexts in which distress is embedded, into psychiatric diagnoses of ‘illness’ treatable by drugs,’ Mills said.

‘Like the maps these tools are used to create, I suggest they produce a chemical reality for the pharmaceutically ‘untapped markets’ of the global South.’

Mills discussed her presentation with Suman Fernando, Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities, London Metropolitan University, and formerly Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, European Centre for Migration & Social Care (MASC), University of Kent, and Consultant Psychiatrist, Chase Farm Hospital, Enfield, Middlesex.

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Ethnic inequality traps in education – podcast and presentation now available

A podcast and presentation of the lunchtime seminar given by OPHI Research Officer Adriana Conconi, titled ‘Are there ethnic inequality traps in education? Evidence from Brazil and Chile’, is now available.

In the seminar, Conconi discusses whether there is evidence to support the existence of inequality gaps in educational attainment between different ethnicities in Brazil and Chile. For Brazil, she finds, there is statistical evidence of persistent disparities in educational opportunities between Afro-Brazilians and white Brazilians that show no signs of reduction. Similarly, there appear to be persistent differences in the opportunities open to indigenous and non-indigenous individuals in the case of Chile.

You can download the podcast and presentation from the seminar, which was given on Thursday 13 February 2014, here.

OPHI’s seminar series is open to all, and provides an opportunity to listen to interesting lectures on issues relating to our research themes. Seminars take place from 12-1pm in Seminar Room 3, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford, OX1 3TB. A free sandwich lunch is available on a first come, first served basis.

You can view a list of our forthcoming seminars and listen to past seminars here.

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