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Evidence from Longitudinal Research

It is critical that the wellbeing of society is systematically tracked by indicators that not only give an accurate picture of human life today but also provide a window into the future for all of us.

This book presents impactful findings from international longitudinal studies that respond to the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 commitment to “leave no-one behind”. Contributors explore a wide range and complexity of pressing global issues, with emphasis given to excluded and vulnerable populations and gender inequality.

Importantly, it sets out actionable strategies for policymakers and practitioners to help strengthen the global Sustainable Development Goals framework, accelerate their implementation and improve the construction of effective public policy.

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Models and Agency in Global Knowledge Governance

This book introduces the concept of ‘knowledge alchemy’ to capture the generic process of transforming mundane practices and policies of governance into competitive ones following imagined global gold standards. Using examples from North America, Europe and Asia, it explores how knowledge alchemy increasingly informs national and institutional policies and practices on economic performance, higher education, research and innovation.

The book examines how governments around the world have embraced global models of world-class university, human capital and talent competition as essential in ensuring national competitiveness. Through its analysis, the book shows how this strongly future-oriented and anticipatory knowledge governance is steered by a surge of global classifications, rankings and indicators, resulting in numerous comparisons of various domains that today form more constraining global policy scripts.

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This important volume steps beyond conventional legal approaches to sustainability to provide fresh insights into perhaps one of the most critical global challenges of our time.

Offering analysis of sustainability at land and sea alongside trade, labour and corporate governance perspectives, this book articulates important debates about the role of law. From impacts on local societies to domestic sustainable development policies and major international goals, it considers multiple jurisdictional levels.

With original, interdisciplinary research from experts in their legal fields, this is a rounded assessment of the complex interplay of law and sustainability—both as it is now and as it should be in the future.

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Church, State and Capital

The political economy of the Irish welfare state provides a fascinating interpretation of the evolution of social policy in modern Ireland, as the product of a triangulated relationship between church, state and capital.

Using official estimates, Professor Powell demonstrates that the welfare state is vital for the cohesion of Irish society with half the population at risk of poverty without it. However, the reality is of a residual welfare system dominated by means tests, with a two-tier health service, a dysfunctional housing system driven by an acquisitive dynamic of home-ownership at the expense of social housing, and an education system that is socially and religiously segregated.

Using the evolution of the Irish welfare state as a narrative example of the incompatibility of political conservatism, free market capitalism and social justice, the book offers a new and challenging view on the interface between structure and agency in the formation and democratic purpose of welfare states, as they increasingly come under critical review and restructuring by elites.

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terms of implementation, leaving governments and stakeholders space to adapt and implement according to context. However, the notion of gender equality in particular can remain superficial when measured according to female–male ratios and quotas, legal frameworks and quantitative data – making the SDG 5 indicators relatively limited in terms of reflecting the lived experience of individuals in society. The negative outcomes of gender inequality which SGD 5 seeks to redress, and which disproportionately affect women and girls, are increasingly well-documented and

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Obtaining education is widely acknowledged to constitute one of the main starting conditions for later opportunities over the life course, regarded as a quintessential means to improve productivity, promote a healthy lifestyle, empower and increase civic participation, raise individual capabilities, and reduce intergenerational transmission of poverty (Buchmann and Hannum, 2001; Hanushek and Woessmann, 2008; Sen, 1999). Considerable progress has been made in terms of increasing enrolment rates at a primary and secondary school level all over the world, especially after the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000 in which the international community committed to achieving Education for All by 2015 (UNESCO, 2017a), and the Millennium Development Summit of 2000 in which the world’s leaders committed to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), among which was universalization of primary school enrolments and gender parity (UN, 2015). The steepest progress in pupil’s enrolments has taken place in sub-Saharan Africa, where primary school enrolment rates between 1990 and 2015 on average increased from 52% to 80% (UN, 2015). One of the most notable increases was observed in Ethiopia, the case study of this chapter, where net primary school enrolments grew from 19% in 1994 to 85% in 2015, and net secondary school enrolments increased from 11% in 1999 to 31% in 2015 (World Bank, 2019).

Despite this progress, recent evidence shows that getting children into school has not translated into knowledge acquisition. According to UNESCO, the latest estimated share of children not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics by the time of primary school completion age in sub-Saharan Africa was about 85% on average (UNESCO UIS, 2017a).

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Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in sub-Saharan Africa are at high risk of HIV infection. HIV infection rates increase substantially among AGYW after the age of 18. In South Africa HIV prevalence rises from 6% among young women aged 15–19 years to 17% by ages 20–24. This age period marks a time of transition into adulthood and coincides with a number of key life events, such as finishing the mandatory years of schooling, leaving home, entering first sexual relationships and experiencing first pregnancies.(Human Sciences Research Council [HSRC], 2017) Key life events that include first pregnancy, coital debut, leaving school and parental death have all been found independently to be associated with an increased risk of HIV infection in young women. Young women who experience their first vaginal sex before the age of 15 are more likely to be living with HIV, and these early events are often characterized by forced sex and sex with older male partners who are more likely to be HIV infected (Pettifor et al, 2004, 2009; Wand and Ramjee, 2012). While school attendance has multiple developmental and later life benefits, leaving school increases the risk of HIV acquisition. Girls who do not attend school as often and who drop out are more likely to acquire HIV infection than those attending and who stay in school (Stoner et al, 2017) In one study, this association appears to be explained by school environments providing safer spaces where adolescent girls are more likely to have male partners closer in age and also have fewer sexual partners than those out of school (Stoner et al, 2018) Similar patterns have been observed for young women experiencing early adolescent pregnancy (before the age of 15)

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This chapter uses evidence from the Parenting across Cultures (PAC) project to illustrate ways in which longitudinal data can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs; The chapter begins by providing an overview of the research questions that have guided PAC as well as a description of the participants, procedures and measures. Next, empirical findings from PAC are summarized to illustrate implications for six specific SDGs. Then the chapter describes how longitudinal data offer advantages over cross-sectional data in operationalizing SDG targets and implementing the SDGs. Finally, limitations, future research directions and conclusions are provided.

PAC was developed in response to concerns that understanding of parenting and child development was biased by the predominant focus in the literature on studying families in Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic (WEIRD) societies and that findings in such countries may not generalize well to more diverse populations around the world (Henrich et al, 2010). In an analysis of the sample characteristics in the most influential journals in six subdisciplines of psychology from 2003 to 2007, 96% of research participants were from Western industrialized countries, and 68% were from the United States alone (Arnett, 2008), which means that 96% of research participants in these psychological studies were from countries with only 12% of the world’s population (Henrich et al, 2010). When basic science research is limited to WEIRD countries, knowledge of human development becomes defined by a set of experiences that may not be widely shared in different cultural contexts, so studying parenting and child development in a wide range of diverse cultural contexts is important to understand development more fully.

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The goal of global gender equality is articulated in the fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5). This objective signifies the global community’s recognition, for the first time, of the central role that gender equality plays in sustainable development. However, the importance of gender equality in the Sustainable Development Goals goes beyond SDG 5. Issues of equality, and specifically gender equality, are interwoven throughout the SDGs and are central to both SDG targets and their related efforts that range in scope from the individual through macro-national and global political institutions.

Independent of the SDGs, adolescent health and well-being have recently emerged as national and global priorities (Patton et al, 2016). For some, the increased importance of adolescents and youth reflects the impressive child survival successes under the MDGs (Bhutta et al, 2019). It is also an acknowledgement that this segment of the population represents a political and social force; there is a critical need to support young people’s growth and development if they are to participate in national growth and development. The SDG era (2015–30) provides an opportunity to highlight the needs of adolescents worldwide, by putting a growing body of longitudinal evidence into practice in the evaluation of SDG-relevant programmes, tracking the achievement of SDG targets among adolescents, and ultimately developing policies that ensure no one, especially this next generation of national and global leaders, is left behind. In order to ensure just and sustainable global development, policy makers must understand the experiences and concerns of adolescents around the world. However, despite their critical role in global development, adolescents are essentially absent from most SDG indicators (Guglielmi and Jones, 2019

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Adolescence is a time of rapid change, not only in physical, cognitive and psychological competencies but also in social roles and expectations (Patton et al, 2012; Steinberg, 2015; Viner et al, 2015). Yet we still know relatively little about the patterning of these changes, and the types of support young people need in order to reach their full human capabilities (Patton et al, 2016). Given that many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) rest on investments in adolescents (Sheehan et al, 2017) – from eliminating harmful traditional practices (including child marriage and female genital mutilation) to ensuring quality education and training – investing in a more robust evidence base and improved measurement is critical.

The Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) research programme addresses these evidence and measurement gaps. This chapter discusses the design and methodological choices made by the GAGE study – to date, the largest longitudinal study (covering nine years, 2015–24) focusing on adolescents (10–19 years) in the Global South. GAGE is following 18,000 adolescent girls and boys in three regions: East Africa, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and South Asia. Using mixed methods, the study is weaving together survey findings from adolescents and their caregivers with in-depth qualitative research with adolescents, caregivers and siblings, as well as community leaders, service providers and policy officials. This chapter highlights key features of GAGE’s longitudinal design.

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