How to stop the world’s 3.1 billion young people being left behind

Jo-BoydenBy Jo Boyden

There are more young people in the world than ever before. While some see the planet’s 3.1 billion under 25-year-olds as a threat, others see the true potential of this demographic dividend. On International Youth Day on August 12, it’s clear that radical action is needed to help disadvantaged young people around the world fulfil their hopes.

Our ongoing study, Young Lives, has been following 12,000 children in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam from childhood into young adulthood since 2001. One of the most heartening things about the project has been hearing from parents about just how much their children’s lives have improved since they were young. By the age of 12, for example, nearly every child in the study was in school.

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The diplomatic implications of the DNC hack

Corneliu-BjolaBy Corneliu Bjola

Revelations about the 19,252 emails leaked by WikiLeaks on the eve of the Democratic National Conventions (DNC) in Philadelphia almost derailed the Convention and threatened to undermine the campaign of the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. While the issue initially looked like another odd political twist in the saga of the U.S. presidential election, it soon became apparent that the leak actually had the potential to turn into a serious diplomatic crisis between the United States (U.S.) and Russia.

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First thoughts on this year’s State of the World’s Children

by Paul Dornan, Senior Policy Officer, Young Lives

Two big reports are out this week – first, UNICEFs ‘State of the World’s Children’ report, and second (given I write from the UK), the UK’s own annual official statistical report on low incomes within the UK (the snappily titled ‘Household Below Average Incomes’ series, that one runs up to 2014/15).

State of the World’s Children is a flagship report from UNICEF (view the excellent interactive report here) and continues the important theme of equity which UNICEF has rightly pushed for a number of years. The report has four substantive elements – specific focus on equity in child health, education, a section on child poverty (highlighting its multidimensional form, and the extent disadvantages compound) and then, helpfully, identifies ‘pathways to equity’ in the conclusion.

HP8H0382_del Castillo_boy against deserted background

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Mind the gender gap(s): Young Lives evidence on gender and education

Padmini Iyer, Education Research Officer, Young Lives

The new Young Lives research and policy findings on early marriage and teenage pregnancy launched in India recently have important implications for education, particularly for girls and their access to secondary schooling.

In light of my own research interests in gender, sexuality and education in India, this week’s reports encouraged me to explore Young Lives’ wider findings on gender and education more closely. This post is an attempt to briefly summarise the evidence from Young Lives on gender and education, both in terms of girls’ marginalisation in education, and the study’s findings which indicate that we must think more broadly about gender and education – for example, by considering educational disadvantage linked to intersections between gender, poverty status, language, ethnicity, caste, and geographical location.

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Does Diplomacy (Still) Matter?

ObamaBy Corneliu Bjola

“States receive so much benefit from uninterrupted foreign negotiations,” Cardinal Richelieu, the founder of the first-ever professional diplomatic service, once argued, but the nature of the much praised “benefit” has not always been clear.

As I have argued elsewhere, diplomacy, at its core, is about relationship management and maintaining international order. At the micro-level, this translates into diplomats building and managing relations of friendship. At the macro-level, diplomacy contributes through its core functions of representation, communication and negotiation to producing and distributing global public goods (security, development, sustainable environment, etc.) Diplomatic success is therefore arguably an equal matter of maximizing the number of allies and friends and reducing that of enemies and rivals on the one hand, and of creating a stable and self-sustainable international order, on the other hand.

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Leaving no one behind: data revolutions and the life course

By Frances Winter, Young Lives Policy Officer

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Last week I attended an excellent seminar run by both DFID’s Inclusive Societies and Statistics Departments. Drawing on the findings of an Open Policy Consultation and expert contributors, it asked whether we have sufficient data about the lives of younger and older people to monitor the Sustainable Development Goals and inform the Leave No One Behind agenda.

DFID wants “ … a data revolution! Data need to be collected, disaggregated, analysed, used and disseminated for all people everywhere.”

Data or Advocacy?

Halfway through the morning, an audience member asked if this was about the technical business of collecting better data, or about advocacy?

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What is the Evidence for the Human Development Approach?

(This blog entry was first published as part of the PPIW Poverty Series of blogs, following a presentation at the Public Policy Institute of Wales).

By Gisela Robles and Sabina Alkire, OPHI

The human development paradigm focuses in all aspects of development that can contribute to build and enhance human capabilities. This enhancement may occur by either by expanding choices and opportunities that people have to lead a life that they value and have reason to value (UNDP, 2000, p. 2). As other approaches such as the capability approach and the human right approach, it considers human life as an end rather than as a means. It differs from a human rights perspective in the sense that it is concerned with people capabilities and also with their agency and voice – their ability to shape their own destinies, but less with responsibilities. Thus it can contribute to the progressive realization of human rights, and to specifying imperfect obligations as well as perfect legal obligations. So both human development and human rights are complementary, and reinforce each other.

QEHblog_6Apr2016Within the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI), our work has been to support the development of a rigorous methodology and comparable evidence base on multidimensional poverty. Our most prominent multidimensional poverty index covers (MPI) 1.6 billion people in developing countries living in acute multidimensional poverty. Our index replaced UNDP’s Human Poverty Index, and the Human Development Reports have published our poverty estimations for 117 countries. Continue reading

Making research more ‘impactful’ for policy and programming

By Paul Dornan, Senior Policy Officer, Young Lives

scribe animator impact 2How social science research contributes to solving real world problems has always been a concern for researchers. Few people study social ills like poverty without wishing to contribute to policies and programmes which help those affected. So it’s great that the impact of research is receiving more attention than ever before. I’m just back from a conference, organised by IDS and the Impact Initiative and set up to learn lessons from 10 years of research on poverty on funded by DFID-ESRC. There was lots presented and discussed at the conference – the story is online  and is pretty quick to absorb being set out in the medium of twitter…

There is lots that matters here. It is to the credit of DFID and others that they have been strong supporters of building a better evidence base for public policy. These arguments are well rehearsed– look for example at the LSEs brilliant impact of the social sciences blog. Public policy without good evidence is an expensive shot in the dark but experience shows good research does not automatically lead to change. To think research would automatically result in policy change ignores all sorts of issues of politics and pragmatism (e.g. ideology, policy interest cycles, competing agendas, timing, financing, feasibility, capacity and luck). And there is a further challenge of research attribution, since research sits alongside all sorts of other inputs to the policy process, and to ignore these is both naïve and under plays the importance of national policy making processes.

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Digital Diplomacy and the Bubble Effect: The NATO Scenario

Corneliu-BjolaBy Corneliu Bjola

Measuring the impact of digital diplomacy using quantitative metrics (number of followers, retweets, shares, likes and so on) has become general practice among Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFAs), and for good reasons. Quantitative indicators allow MFAs to see how far their message travels online (via the number of followers), how well it is received by the target audience (via the number of shares and likes) and how deeply it resonates with online communities (via the number of retweets). More sophisticated techniques calculate the lifespans of tweets, determine differences in interaction when posts are in local languages, and compare and contrast the success of various digital diplomacy campaigns.

While these methods do not directly measure influence in terms of perception or attitudinal shifts of the target audience, they nevertheless provide reasonably good proxy indicators for such mutations. However, the reliability of their conclusions much depends on a critical assumption about the nature of the population that is being observed—namely, that the latter is sufficiently diverse in its political views relative to the source of digital information. In other words, the MFAs’ digital communication campaigns are presumed not to merely “preach to the choir” of sympathetic followers, but to actually reach constituencies outside the self-reinforcing “bubble” of like-minded followers.

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International Women’s Day 2016: ‘Pledging for Parity’ Needs to Start with Childhood

Gina_cropped_lowresBy Gina Crivello


The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day campaign is ‘pledging for parity’. The ‘pledging’ part of the slogan draws attention to individual commitment and to action. ‘Parity’, on the other hand, highlights the relationship between two or more things, and is generally defined as the state or condition of being equal or equivalent. In this context, the positive focus of parity suggests gender-balanced power. And, more often than not, parity refers to relations between men and women. After all, girls have their own day – October 11th – marking International Day of the Girl Child.

But does childhood have a place in International Women’s Day? What does childhood have to do with gender parity?

I would argue that childhood has a lot to do with gender parity. The reasons why become clear when we look at the flip side of parity… and turn our attention to the workings of inequality.

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