Department of Social Policy seminars

International Social and Public Policy seminar series

This seminar series brings together international scholars working on topics relevant to social policy and public policy in a global context. Participants comprise eminent external speakers alongside faculty from the Department of Social Policy at the LSE. They present new and cutting edge research applied to social policy questions from multiple disciplines, including sociology, criminology, education, demography, anthropology and economics. The series provides the opportunity for social policy faculty, researchers and PhD students to participate in an academic community of interest and encounter multi- and interdisciplinary approaches across a range of social policy issues. The seminars are open to staff and students from across the LSE and beyond. The seminars are also open to our Alumni.

Upcoming Seminars

If you are a student or staff member based at LSE you are welcome to attend seminars in person or online via Zoom. Seminars take place on Thursdays in OLD 2.26. If you are not based at LSE, you are welcome to watch the seminar online via Zoom. Zoom registration details included below.


Lent Term series 


Mario Small

Qualitative Literacy: A guide to evaluating ethnographic and interview research

Thursday 9 February 2023. 1.00pm-2.30pm- please note that this has been cancelled due to UCU strike action

Speakers: Professor Mario Small, Columbia University & Dr Jessica Carlarco, Indiana University Bloomington

Chair: Professor Stephen Jenkins, LSE


Brian Nolan

Demographic Structures and Household Earnings Inequality across OECD Countries

Thursday 16 February 2023, 1.00pm-2.30pm- please note that this has been cancelled due to UCU strike action

Speaker: Professor Brian Nolan, University of Oxford

Chair: Professor Stephen Jenkins, LSE



Ive Marx

Adequate minimum income protection. How can it be done?  

Thursday 23 March 2023, 1.00pm-2.30pm

Speaker: Professor Ive Marx, University of Antwerp

Chair: Professor Stephen Jenkins, LSE

Abstract: The notion that every person living amidst the relative affluence of the rich world has a right to minimum means of existence enabling at least psychical survival and a modicum of social participation, be frugally and soberly, holds as a fundamental matter of social justice to most people.

Together with Sarah Marchal I am finishing a book about minimum income provisions in the rich world. How can we ensure decent minimum incomes in rich societies? Should we modulate the right to minimum income support by characteristics and behaviors that people deem relevant, and if so, how can we do it? How can we ensure that minimum income support is cost-effective and compatible with other goals such as promoting work effort, self-reliance and upward mobility. How can political support for such schemes be fostered and made robust?

We see the book as a contribution to the real world policy debate, not as an exercise in utopian thinking. At the seminar I want to discuss some of the main findings and conclusions. 

Bio: Ive Marx is professor of socio-economic policy at the University of Antwerp and director of the Centre for Social Policy Herman Deleeck. He is also a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). He has done research on minimum income protection and poverty, especially in relation to labour market change and migration. He has published extensively in international journals and also a number of books, including 'Minimum Income Protection in Flux' (with Kenneth Nelson), two volumes on changing inequalities and societal impacts (OUP, 2014), the Handbook of Research on In-Work Poverty (with Henning Lohmann). He sits on the board of Espanet, Europe's leading network of social policy researchers. Besides academia, he consults and participates in public debates on policy issues through talks and non-academic publications, including a regular column in Belgium's main broadsheet De Standaard.

Registration details coming soon



Social and academic embeddedness as buffers against school closure effects on schooling outcomes

Thursday 30 March 2023, 1.00pm-2.30pm

Speaker: Professor Herman van de Werfhorst, European University Institute

Chair: Professor Stephen Jenkins

Abstract: Using a unique combination of student-level survey, sociometric and register data, this study examines whether the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schooling outcomes is conditional on students’ academic and social embeddedness in the school setting. We estimate the impact of the pandemic on the track recommendation level and the enrolled secondary school track by comparing sixth-graders who went through the transition from primary to secondary school during the first wave of the pandemic with a previous cohort in register data of the Netherlands. The individual estimated pandemic effect is then associated to student and parent information obtained through a survey in the two months preceding the pandemic. Results show that especially student self-efficacy, academic motivation, and to a lesser extent parental involvement are important buffers against pandemic effects. The centrality of parents in the parental network in schools is hardly associated to the extent to which the pandemic has affected schooling outcomes.  

Bio: Herman van de Werfhorst is professor of sociology at the EUI. He is on leave from the University of Amsterdam. His work concentrates on inequalities in and through education, using both comparative and longitudinal data and research designs. More specifically, Van de Werfhorst studies mostly inequalities by socioeconomic and migration background and gender in school careers, labour markets, and civic engagement. Van de Werfhorst is visiting fellow at the WissenschaftsZentrum Socialforschung Berlin (WZB). He is co-PI of two running data projects: PRIMS (on the social embeddedness of the transition from primary to secondary schools in the Netherlands), and ADKS (Adolescent Panel Study on Democratic Core Values and School Careers).

Registration details coming soon



Archive 2022-23

Marita Jacob

When the burden lifts: The effect of school and day care re-openings on parent’s employment and life satisfaction

Part of the International Social and Public Policy Seminar Series

Thursday 2 February 2023

Speaker: Professor Marita Jacob, University of Cologne

Abstract: At the onset of the pandemic in many countries around the globe, governments decided to close of schools and day care facilities with the aim of slowing the spread of the virus. Increased childcare duties of parents have been the most prominent explanation of the observed stronger decrease of parent’s employment and life satisfaction, in particular for mothers, compared to childless people. However, school and day care closures have been implemented alongside several other containment measures. For example, in March 2020 in Germany, the government shut down nonessential shops, bars and restaurants, required employers to allow for remote work, and closed most public institutions. These containment measures might be also particularly relevant for parents if work and daily chores became more stressful. Hence, we aim to shed more light on the specific role of school and day-care closures for parents. We use the temporal variability of school and day care re-openings in different German federal states (Bundesländer) that allows us to single out the effect of care duties. In our empirical analyses, we use data from the German IAB-HOPP study which is unique in providing repeated monthly measures of employment, working hours and life satisfaction at the onset of the pandemic. We merge this survey data with data on exact dates of school and day care openings that allow us to measure the immediate effect on working hours and life satisfaction two weeks later. Using a difference-in-differences (DD) and difference-in-difference-in-differences (DDD) approach, our results reveal a non-negligible positive effect of an earlier and more far-reaching reopening of schools and day care facilities on parents’ working hours. With regard to life satisfaction, a positive effect of re-openings can be observed for mothers only and this effect is practically non-existent for fathers. Our results contribute to previous research that concluded closures to be burdensome for parents by providing sound empirical and quantified evidence on the effects of re-openings.

Watch the video



Jonas Radl

More driven? Experimental evidence on differences in cognitive effort by social origin

Part of the International Social and Public Policy Seminar Series

Thursday 26 January 2023

Speaker: Dr Jonas Radl, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Abstract: While large-scale competence assessments like PISA show a robust positive association between socioeconomic status (SES) and test scores, little is known about social inequalities in effort. Differences in effort by social origin are not only a potential explanatory mechanism underlying SES gaps in performance, but also a key unknown factor in normative debates about equality of opportunity. The study draws on large-scale laboratory experiments carried out between 2019 and 2022 in Spain and Germany. Around 1,300 fifth-grade students performed three real-effort tasks under three different incentive conditions. Do children from privileged backgrounds exert greater effort than children from disadvantaged backgrounds?

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An historical analysis of NGO registration in contemporary China

Part of the International Social and Public Policy Seminar Series

Thursday 19 January 2023

Speakers: Dr Tim Hildebrandt, Department of Social Policy, LSE, Dr Blake Miller, Department of Methodology, LSE, and Guodong Ju, Department of Social Policy, LSE.

Abstract: Amidst the retreat of the welfare state, austerity, and other economic reforms globally, non-governmental organisations have grown in number and expanded in scope to do the work previously done by the state. As such, the study of NGOs is of great import to social policy. While these actors have been welcomed into policy making and implementation, governments around the world, irrespective of regime type, have sought to manage the development of NGOs through registration frameworks. In the case of authoritarian states like China’s, NGO registration has been used to control the size and shape of the civil society sector, ultimately to protect the state regime from threats to its legitimacy and monopoly of power. But the process of registration in China has remained opaque, both for NGO actors who may seek to be registered, and scholars wishing to study registration. We still have a poor understanding of what determines registration over time and how registration is affected by direct or proximate policy shifts; administrative data on NGO registration has thus far been largely inaccessible and lacking important specificity. As such, in this research we use machine learning to make better sense of official government data on NGO registration, creating new variables for the location and issue focus of each entry—factors which extant literature has identified as playing an important role in whether an organisation is registered or not. In this talk, we will discuss the method by which we made sense of the data, present descriptive statistics and preliminary results from inference models.

No video available 

Kenneth Nelson

Energy taxes, social policy, and economic vulnerability

Part of the International Social and Public Policy Seminar Series

Thursday 8 December 2022

Speaker: Professor Kenneth Nelson, SoFI, Stokholm University

Abstract: The increased seriousness of many environmental problems does not only pose threats to ecological sustainability. Many of the policies that are put in place to steer people towards less environmentally harmful consumption tend to be regressive and weigh more heavily on the poor. Without an ambitious redistributive social agenda, carbon taxes and similar policies to regulate consumption may increase poverty risks and create less socially sustainable societies. In this talk, I will introduce our new project on the social and political consequences of environmental policy, and present some initial results on green taxes on household consumption, poverty, and social policy.

No video available


What accounts for the recent 'tutoring revolution' in English education policy?

Part of the International Social and Public Policy Seminar Series

Thursday 1 December 2022

Speaker: Dr Sonia Exley, LSE

Abstract: For more than 10 years now, proportions of school-aged students receiving private supplementary tutoring (PST) outside mainstream school in England have been increasing. Government education policy in the same period has included new attempts to regulate the PST landscape, and also new and growing attempts to subsidise PST. Most recently, since the covid-19 pandemic, subsidised PST has been front and centre within government efforts to help students ‘catch up’ following major periods of lost learning during England’s 2020 and 2021 school closures (see for example the 2020 creation of a National Tutoring programme).

What accounts for a growing government interest in spending and creating new policy specifically on PST? Drawing on an analysis of government policy documents, parliamentary debates and sources published by other key policy actors since 2015, in this paper I will explore the possible role of changing ideas about PST in the English education landscape. I will consider too changes to policy making and governance in English education which may have produced conditions particularly ripe for certain ideas about PST to have taken hold. 

No Video available


Why research (does not) affect policy: experimental evidence on the role of perceived political bias

Part of the International Social and Public Policy Seminar Series

Thursday 17 November 2022

Speaker: Dr Berkay Ozcan, LSE

Chair: Professor Stephen Jenkins, LSE

Abstract: The "perceived credibility" of the evidence is a critical issue in bridging the gap between scientific evidence and policy implementation. If policymakers believe the messenger, i.e., the person presenting the scientific evidence, has an ideological agenda, they may be more or less inclined to pay attention to the scientific evidence, even if it is produced with the highest scientific standards. Using a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT), this study investigates whether policymakers' political biases influence their interests and attitudes toward scientific evidence and policy adoption. We use a sample of all touristic municipalities in Spain to send local policymakers either a policy brief or a link to a newspaper article describing high-quality scientific evidence on a very low-cost, effective, and uncontroversial policy to increase tourism. Furthermore, we create random variations in the identity of the source of information to signal a possible ideological bias. We combine survey and administrative data to define our sample of treated and control municipalities and the random assignment to the different treatment arms. Ex post, we then compare additional measures of interest in the scientific evidence and the recommended policy. We investigate whether policymakers pay attention and read the recommended policy/evidence and whether they eventually adopt it. Finally, we build a rich dataset with daily data on bank card payments to see if the policy implementation resulted in increased tourism revenues (i.e. benefits of the policy). 

No video available


Alice Sullivan

Why do we need data on sex?

Part of the International Social and Public Policy Seminar Series

Thursday 10 November 2022

Speaker: Professor Alice Sullivan, UCL

Chair: Professor Stephen Jenkins, LSE

Abstract: Data on sex has been collected by health scientists, social scientists, and public bodies for centuries. Sex is recognised as a fundamental variable, which affects health and social and economic outcomes. This presentation explains why collecting data on sex is important and documents some examples of public bodies and surveys moving away from data collection on sex. I address the reasons why we are losing data on sex and examine the arguments that have been used to oppose data collection on sex. In conclusion, I argue that accurate data on sex is essential for the human sciences, for policymaking, and to tackle sexism.

Watch the video


Melanie Jones

Disability and Trade Union Membership in the UK

Part of the International Social and Public Policy Seminar Series

Thursday 20 October 2022

Speaker: Professor Melanie Jones, Cardiff University

Chair: Professor Stephen Jenkins, LSE

Abstract: Using data from two national surveys, the Quarterly Labour Force Survey and the Workplace Employment Relations Survey, we establish evidence of a robust disability gap in trade union membership in the UK. After controlling for differences in other personal and work-related characteristics, disabled employees are found to be 3.6 percentage points (12-14%) more likely to be union members than non-disabled employees. While the gap is consistent with evidence that disabled employees hold more positive perceptions of union representation, we find no evidence that union membership is associated with disproportionate benefits for disabled employees in terms of a reduction in disability-related labour market inequality. 

Watch the video



A Political Economy of Behavioural Public Policy

Part of the International Social and Public Policy Seminar Series

Thursday 13 October 2022

Speaker: Dr Adam Oliver, LSE

Chair: Professor Stephen Jenkins, LSE

Abstract: There has been much interest in informing the design of public policy with findings from behavioural science over the past fifteen years. The main catalyst of this interest were frameworks that argued for a soft paternalistic approach to behavioural-informed policy - or in other words, the targeting of behavioural change to mitigate so-called behavioural biases in human decision making, for the benefit of those targeted, but without the use of mandates. In this presentation Dr. Oliver will discuss what he believes to be a main point of debate for the future development of behavioural public policy: namely, whether the emphasis upon paternalistic intervention that has dominated the development of the field to date ought to continue, or whether behavioural public policy would be more appropriately placed within a liberal framework. 

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Orderly Britain

Part of the International Social and Public Policy Seminar Series

Thursday 6 October 2022

Speaker: Professor Tim Newburn, LSE

Chair: Professor Stephen Jenkins, LSE

Abstract: This talk is based on Tim Newburn’s latest book - a quirky history of post-war Britain. Rather than grand matters of politics, culture, and the economy, it focuses on the mundane and the quotidian, taking in such matters as dog fouling, the decline of the public lavatory, and double-parking. How did we become a nation of plastic bag-wielding poop scoopers? What do changing patterns of smoking and drinking say about modern British society? And is queuing really a quintessentially British activity? Delving beneath the surface of some of our daily activities, it asks what makes us orderly Britons? 

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Archive 2021-22

19th May 2022

Wellbeing and Do-gooding? Critical understandings of individual altruism and human sociality 

Speaker: Professor Hartley Dean (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

Watch the video

12th May 2022

Family Goals and Behavior in an International Comparative Analysis

Speaker: Dr Alicia Adserà (Princeton University)

Video not available

24 March 2022

Forgotten Wives: an alternative history of LSE

Speaker: Professor Ann Oakley (UCL Social Research Institute)

Watch the video

17 March 2022

Diversity in Seminar and Study Groups and Student Outcomes: Evidence from SP401

Speakers: Dr Berkay Ozcan and Valentina Contreras (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

Watch the video

10 March 2022

The Contours of Political Manipulation: Inside Richard Nixon’s ‘Law and Order’ Campaign

Speaker: Dr Leonidas Cheliotis (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

Video not available

3 March 2022

Leaving Fathers Behind? The Politics of Departing from the Male Breadwinner Model in Germany and the UK

Speaker: Dr Sam Mohun-Himmelweit (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

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24 February 2022

PISA, Political Discourse, and Education Governance in the Age of Global Reference Societies

Speaker: Professor Louis Volante (Brock University)

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10 February 2022

Parental Skills, Assortative Mating, and the Incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Speaker: Dr Chiara Orsini (University of Sheffield)

Video not available

3 February 2022

Policy capacity matters for education reforms: A diverging tale of two Brazilian states

Speaker: Dr Yifei Yan (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

Watch the video

27 January 2022

Income source confusion using the SILC

Speaker: Dr Iva Tasseva (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

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9 December 2021

The Schumpeterian consensus: the new logic of global social policy to face the fourth industrial revolution

Speaker: Dr Vicente Silva (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

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25 November 2021

Tracking system in education and inequalities.  A longitudinal analysis of two school reforms in Switzerland

Speaker: Professor Georges Felouzis (University of Geneva)

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18 November 2021

After Covid-19: what have we learned about the UK's labour market, inequality and the welfare system

Speaker: Dr Mike Brewer (Resolution Foundation)

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11 November 2021

Home Care Fault Lines: Understanding Tensions and Creating Alliances (book talk)

Speaker: Professor Cynthia Crawford (University of Toronto)

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4 November 2021

The Positive Effect of Women’s Education on Fertility in Low-Fertility China

Speaker: Dr Shuang Chen (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

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7th October 2021


Seminar based on joint Paper by Professor Coretta Phillips (Department of Social Policy, LSE) and Professor Fiona Williams (University of Leeds)

Speaker: Professor Coretta Phillips (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

Watch the video


Archive- 2020-21

23 March 2021

Which integration policies work? The heterogeneous impact of policies and institutions on immigrants’ labor market success in Europe

Speaker: Professor Lucinda Platt (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

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16 March 2021

Unidentical Twins? Comparing Social Policy Responses to COVID-19 in North America

Speaker: Professor Daniel Béland (McGill University)

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9 March 2021

Demographic Change and Perceptions of Racism

Speaker: Christopher Maggio (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

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2 March 2021

Poverty Among the Working Age Population in Post-Industrial Democracies (with some comments on inequality)

Speaker: Professor Evelyne Huber (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Watch the video

23 February 2021

Tense times for young migrants: Temporality, life-course, and immigration status

Speaker: Dr Vanessa Hughes (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

Presentation slides

Watch the video

16 February 2021

Poverty, Not the Poor

Speaker: Professor David Brady (University of California, Riverside)

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9 February 2021

Does Incarceration Shape Trust in the State, Community Engagement, and Civic Participation?

Speaker: Professor Chris Wildeman (Duke University)

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2 February 2021

The normativity of marriage and the marriage premium for children’s outcomes

Speaker: Professor Florencia Torche (Stanford University)

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26 January 2021

Inequalities in Breastfeeding in the U.S. across the 20th Century

Speaker: Dr Vida Maralani (Cornell University)

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19 Jaunary 2021

Family structure and gender ideologies of youth in Britain

Speaker: Professor Pia Schober (University of Tübingen)

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8 December 2020

The Company We Keep
Interracial Friendships and Romantic Relationships from Adolescence to Adulthood

Speaker: Professor Grace Kao (Yale University)

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1 December 2020

They Can’t All Be Stars: The Matthew Effect, Status Bias, and Status Persistence in NBA All-Star Elections

Speaker: Dr Thomas Biegert (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

Presentation slides

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24 November 2020

How combination and sequence of weather events shape Mexico-U.S. migration flows

Speaker: Professor Filiz Garip (Cornell University)

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17 November 2020

Policy Capacity Matters for Capacity Development: Comparing Teacher In-service Training and Career Advancement in Basic Education Systems of India and China

Speaker: Dr Yifei Yan (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

Presentation slides

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10 November 2020

Social class inequalities in school GCSE attainment – Mis-reading cultural capital 

Speakers: Professor Vernon Gayle (University of Edinburgh), Dr Sarah Stopforth (University of Sussex)

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3 November 2020

From the Local to the Global: Care Chains, Ageing and Futurity through the Indian Ayah

Speaker: Dr Shalini Grover (International Inequalities Institute, LSE)

Presentation slides

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28 October 2020

Mechanisms of Matthew effects in social investment

Speaker: Dr Amelia Peterson (Department of Social Policy, LSE)

Presentation slides

Watch the video


Archive 2017-2019


29 January 2020

‘Emplaced’ Indian Construction Labour-Camps: The Architecture of Discipline and the Limits to Collective Action.

Speaker: Dr Sunil Kumar (LSE, Department of Social Policy)

11th December 2019

Experimental Criminology and the Free-Rider Problem

Speakers: Dr Johann Koehler (LSE, Department of Social Policy) and Tobias Smith (UC-Berkeley)

30th October 2019

Collaborative ethnography and its limitations: Researching young migrants in London

Speaker: Vanessa Hughes (LSE, Department of Social Policy)



13 March 2019

Challenging dominant social policy assumptions; an apprenticeship for young people with multiple problems and needs.

Speakers: Alice Sampson and Femi Ade-Davis

27 February 2019

Administrative Burden: Policymaking by Other Means

Speakers: Professor Pamela Herd and Professor Donald Moynihan

30 January 2019

Towards a New Social Contract - Taking on Distributional Tensions in Europe and Central Asia

Speaker: Maurizio Bussolo

31 October 2018

How useful is Gillian Hart's Distinction between 'Little d' and 'Big D' Development? Theoretical Reflections, a Case Study, and some Lessons for Social Policy

Speaker: Professor David Lewis, LSE


16 May 2018

Health implications of Economic Insecurity

Speaker: Professor Lars Osberg

7 March 2018

Police Reform and the Politics of Denial: An Academic's Journey into "Activism".

Speaker: Dr Michael Shiner, LSE

21 February 2018

Political Parties and Private Schools: A Comparative Analysis of Policy and Politics in England and Germany

Speaker: Dr Rita Nikolai, Humboldt University, Berlin

24 January 2018

The Kids Are Alright: The Rise in Non-Marital Births and Child Well-being

Speaker: Professor Christina Gibson-Davis, Duke University

10 January 2018

The Politics of Post-Crisis European Social Spending

Speaker: Dr Ian McManus, LSE

22 November 2017

Accumulation or Absorption? The Development of Household Non-Employment in Europe during the Great Recession

Speakers: Professor Bernhard Ebbinghaus, University of Oxford, Dr Thomas Biegert, LSE

15 November 2017

Great Expectations: Long-term Poverty Reduction, Intergenerational Change and Young Beneficiaries’ Aspirations in Brazil’s Bolsa Família Programme

Speaker: Dr Hayley Jones, LSE

18 October 2017

Ethnic school composition and multiple ethnic identity formation of adolescents in the Netherlands

Speaker: Dr Gert-Jan Veerman, Ede Christian University of Applied Sciences

11 October 2017

Inter-ethnic relations of teenagers in England’s schools: the role of school and neighbourhood ethnic composition

Speaker: Professor Simon Burgess, University of Bristol


For any questions related to the seminar series, please email