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Essex expertise at the ESRC Research Methods Festival 2018

Professor Mike Brewer and Professor Annette Jäckle from ISER and Professor Maria Fasli from the Institute for Analytics and Data Science present sessions at the national biennial conference on innovations in social science research methods

Monday Afternoon Seminar: George B. Ploubidis


The 20th century witnessed significant improvements in health in most countries including substantial increases in survival to older ages and large reductions in late age mortality. The continuing rise in life expectancy is undoubtedly one of the great successes of public health, but has also raised the question of how healthily the gained years of life will be spent. We use data from UK’s birth cohorts, other longitudinal studies and repeated cross sectional surveys to investigate competing theories of the joint progress of health and mortality. Sullivan’s method and regression based approaches were employed exploiting their different underlying assumptions to empirically test the compression, expansion and dynamic equilibrium of morbidity hypotheses. We found evidence for expansion of morbidity in the working age population, whereas a more complex pattern emerged in the older population, indicating a potential structural break between generations. The opportunities and challenges of employing longitudinal and life course studies to empirically test competing theories of ageing and the implications of the recent slowdown in the increase of life expectancy in the UK will be discussed.

George is Professor of Population Health and Statistics at the UCL Department of Social Science and currently holds the posts of Director of Research and Chief Statistician at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies. Prior to joining UCL he held posts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Cambridge.

Can transactional data help to understand human behaviour?

Abstract: Digital technology is opening up a new era in the understanding of human behaviour. An ever increasing amount of machine recorded information is being generated as we traverse our daily lives, touching on a range of human behaviours from financial activity (via banking records) to eating habits (via supermarket loyalty cards and digital food diaries). The information that can be gained from these transactional data sources can go beyond self-reports that are traditionally used to measure real world behaviours. My research focuses on creating an ethical, privacy-preserving framework to use transactional records of human behaviour such as banking and retail data for public good. Based on my ongoing work with Boots, Tesco and banking data, I will talk about possibilities and challenges of working with large transactional datasets for research on human behaviour. I will present several ongoing projects in the domains of food choice, personality and wellbeing. Further, I will talk about projects on linking transactional data to longitudinal population studies data and associated possibilities and challenges, as well as about ethics of research with big data.

New research on the impact of gold prices on baby girls' survival in India

Recent government figures put India’s sex ratio at birth at 900 girls per 1,000 boys during 2013–15. Professor Sonia Bhalotra’s study looks into the tradition of bridal dowry and follows the price of gold to unpick changes in India’s baby girl birth rate over decades.

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