My main area of research looks at social protection, health and the wellbeing of older people in developing countries. I am also interested in the economic and social effects of non-communicable diseases, such as stroke, heart disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. I have a more general interest in social policy, particularly in Latin America.
Contrary to popular belief, more older people live in the developing world than in the rich north. Despite this, the condition of older people and the wider effects of population ageing are still seen as peripheral concerns in development policy. I have been involved in studies of older people’s wellbeing and vulnerability in Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Thailand. I am currently involved in two funded research projects examining the wellbeing of older people and their families in eight different countries.
I work closely with a wide range of international development agencies. Between 2011 and 2012 I was a Senior Research Fellowship at the UK Government's Department for International Development, providing advice on social development and social protection. Between 2010 and 2011 I was seconded to the World Health Organisation's Ageing and Lifecourse Programme, as lead planner for a new WHO Programme on Primary Healthcare for Older People. I have also worked with the UN Secretary General’s Office to promote national capacity for mainstreaming age into development policy. As part of this, I was primary author for a United Nations Report "Guide to the National Implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing" (February 2008), available here.
CV and Experience
Before joining UEA in 1999, I held lectureships at the University of Glasgow and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
- PhD London School of Economics (Income maintenance strategies of elderly shanty town residents of Buenos Aires, Argentina)
- MA in Areas Studies (Latin America) London School of Economics
Key Research Interests
I have a number of ongoing funded research projects:
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Survey on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) represents a very significant addition to the limited available data. Particular strengths of SAGE are:
- It covers a diverse set of six low and middle income countries (China, Ghana, India, Mexico the Russian Federation and South Africa) and is suitable for international comparison.
- SAGE uses nationally representative samples of people aged 50+.
- SAGE health data include biometrics as well as self-report.
- SAGE socio-economic data include information about the lifelong experiences of respondents and their parents.
This project uses SAGE data to analyse three themes:
- What effect does receiving a pension benefit have on older people's health and wellbeing? It is assumed that, as well as ensuring their economic security, pensions help them pay for health services and consequently improve their health. Yet the evidence for this is not always clear. For example, South Africa has a generous pension scheme but poor health outcomes for older people. We will conduct a systematic analysis of pensions, health and wellbeing, assessing the extent to which they are linked in the different SAGE countries.
- Hypertension is a major cause of serious illness, including stroke, heart disease and dementia. Preliminary analysis of the new WHO data base has revealed large variations in the prevalence of hypertension across LMICs. There are also large variations in the extent that people are aware of these conditions and are receiving effective treatment for them. Our study will explore the reasons for these national variations, as well as for variations within countries.
- How people experience later life is strongly influenced by previous life effects, but our precise knowledge of these effects is limited. WHO SAGE includes large amounts of information about older people's past lives, including their parents' education and occupational status. We will use this data to analyse the life course effects and compare them across the SAGE countries.
The World Health Organisation estimates that the number of care dependent older people living in developing countries will quadruple by 2050. To date, policy-makers have paid little attention to meeting their needs, but the economic and social impacts of providing long-term care are likely to be substantial. Key issues include
How do households cope when a member becomes highly care-dependent due to conditions like stroke or the onset of dementia?
Are these households more at risk of falling into poverty?
Do women bear the brunt of care-giving, and how are decisions taken within households and families?
This study, led by the Institute of Psychiatry in King's College, London draws on an established set of surveys in Nigeria, China, Peru and Mexico conducted by the 10/66 Dementia Research Group. These longitudinal surveys already provide health and care dependency data for households containing older people. During 2012 we will be returning to these households to obtain detailed economic and social information based on a new quantitative survey tool and linked qualitative research.
I teach International Development at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as supervising research students:
Health and Development. This module focuses on relationships between health and processes of socio-economic change, livelihoods and poverty. It examines different aspects of health policy, ranging from global health initiatives to community projects. It pays particular attention to HIV/AIDS.
Latin American Development. This module provides students with a general introduction to a range of key development issues in Latin America, including economic development, political change, environmental issues and social trends, as well as examining the relationships between them. It adopts a balanced approach which takes into account both common experiences across the region and more particular national experiences.
Joint Director of Research for the School of International Development