COMPASS seminars 2015

Professor Peter Boxall

Which workers are more vulnerable to work intensification? An analysis of two national surveys

Professor Peter Boxall
19 October 2015

This presentation will report work conducted with Dr Mark Le Fevre and Associate Professor Keith Macky of AUT University. It will discuss findings from two national-level surveys in New Zealand that help us to identify which groups of workers experience higher levels of work intensity and to analyse the links to their well-being. The primary goal is to identify differences among occupational groups but the surveys also enable us to compare experiences of work intensity across a range of variables. Overall, the analysis addresses the question: which workers are more vulnerable to work intensification?

Peter Boxall (PhD Monash, FHRINZ) is Professor in Human Resource Management and Associate Dean of Research at the University of Auckland Business School. He is the co-author with John Purcell of Strategy and Human Resource Management (Palgrave), the co-editor with John Purcell and Patrick Wright of the Oxford Handbook of Human Resource Management (Oxford University Press) and the co-editor with Richard Freeman and Peter Haynes of What Workers Say: Employee Voice in the Anglo-American Workplace (Cornell University Press).

Nichola Shackleton

Is there really a link between low parental income and childhood obesity?

Dr Nichola Shackleton
12 October 2015

The established association between familial socioeconomic status and child obesity has created the expectation that low familial income is a cause of child obesity. Yet there is very little evidence in the UK to suggest that this is the case. This paper uses data from the Millennium Cohort Study (age 7) to assess whether or not low familial income and family poverty are associated with an increased risk of child obesity.

Nichola Shackleton recently became a Research Fellow at COMPASS, University of Auckland. Previously she worked a Research Associate at the UCL Institute of Child Health, working mainly on projects relating to the potential impact of schools on adolescent’s health and risk taking behaviours, and socioeconomic inequalities in adolescent’s health. She was awarded her PhD in September 2014 from the UCL Institute of Education for her thesis on “Socioeconomic inequalities in young children’s weight status in the UK”.

Mark Gahegan

Research Data—Preserve, Share, Reuse, Publish, or Perish

Prof Mark Gahegan
5 October 2015

Researchers need a variety of data services to support their work, from archives, to backups, through to data sharing and eventually data publishing. And it is very clear that our funding agencies will soon follow suit with those in the USA, EU, Australia and elsewhere and require researchers to make publicly funded research data available to others in most cases, though of course ensuring confidentiality of individuals where necessary. The talk will begin by describing some of these services, what we understand that researchers and funders need and how we go about ensuring such services are provided by our institutions. But this is just the beginning. In the burgeoning era of open (and sometimes data-led) research, new possibilities and challenges for how we describe, find, share and reuse data are waiting around every corner. Some of these may radically change how we conduct research, some could dramatically improve the effectiveness of the research sector at large. What we think of as data, and even as research, will change as a result.

Mark Gahegan is Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Auckland.  He directs the university’s Centre for e-Research, which hosts a team of more than twenty high-performance computing specialists, and five researchers. He was lead author of the recently successful National eScience Infrastructure (NeSI) proposal to coordinate support for eResearch and high performance computing across New Zealand. He led the development of the Science Case for the science ministry and the Business Case for government that was funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation in 2011, $27M over three years, with an additional co-investment of $21M from the 5 partner institutions.

Navigating the starpath: Student achievement and equity in secondary schools in Tamaki and Tai Tokerau


Professor Cindy Kiro, Associate Professor Anne Hynds, Dr Stephen McTaggart, Dr Earl Irving, Morgan Rangi, and Victoria Cockle
28 September 2015

Starpath has developed evidence-based strategies to transform patterns of educational underachievement for senior secondary students in Years 11, 12 and 13 in low socioeconomic high schools. Starpath has partnered with 39 low decile schools in Auckland and Northland. Achievement in NCEA Levels 1, 2, 3 and University Entrance showed remarkable improvements. There were also significant gains in school practices including expectations of achievement; using data to support achievement; informed student goal setting; tracking of student progress; literacy across the curriculum and whānau/family-school partnerships. Starpath has promoted a sense of responsibility amongst senior students for their own learning and achievement. Starpath has made a positive difference to the relationship between teachers, school leaders and parents. In this presentation we will review the evidence of this approach and share our findings from the matched schools analysis and development of a multi-level analysis to understand what impact, if any, Starpath has had on our partner schools.

Professor Cynthia (Cindy) Kiro is Director of the Starpath Project and also ‘Te Tumu’ – responsible for Māori/indigenous education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland. Both roles promote educational excellence to increase student engagement and success in tertiary education for indigenous and minority populations. She has worked extensively in roles that improve life outcomes for children and young people who experience social marginalisation or exclusion: focusing upon equity and diversity as a constructive contributor to society. She was New Zealand’s fourth Children’s Commissioner - establishing the Taskforce for Action on Family Violence.

A knowledge laboratory of the early life course

Roy Lay-Yee, COMPASS
21 September 2015

The ‘Knowledge Lab’ micro-simulation project aims to integrate ‘best evidence’ from systematic reviews and meta-analyses into a working model of the early life course (from birth to age 21). We will describe progress on the Knowledge Lab project, and how it will be used to: (i) test the validity of the underlying behavioural equations and specific knowledge sources (meta-analyses, systematic reviews); and (ii) test policy scenarios by carrying out experiments on the 'virtual cohort' created by the working model.

Roy Lay-Yee is a Senior Research Fellow at the COMPASS Research Centre.  He has a background in Sociology and one of his current interests is in using computer simulation to address questions of relevance to public policy.

Media blame and political violence in Northern Ireland 1994-1998

Dr Maria Armoudian and Dr Barry Milne
14 September 2015

The relationship between media messages and political violence has been postulated but not explored quantitatively.  We assess the association between media ‘blame’ of political actors in articles from a random selection of issues from three Northern Ireland daily newspapers and two partisan periodicals, and subsequent violence during the period Jan 1994 to May 1998.  We find evidence of media blames escalating violence, controlling for prior violence, and this varied by publication, the political actor blamed, and the partisan group perpetrating the violence.

Dr Maria Armoudian is a lecturer at the University of Auckland, the author of Kill the Messenger: The Media’s Role in the Fate of the World, and the host and producer of the syndicated radio program, The Scholars’ Circle. She has served as an environmental commissioner for the City of Los Angeles and worked for the California State Legislature, prior to which she worked a journalist. Armoudian is currently working on a book about war correspondents.


Dr Barry Milne is a Senior Research Fellow and Associate Director of the COMPASS Research Centre.  He has a masters degrees in Psychology from the University of Otago, and a PhD in psychiatric epidemiology from Kings College London. His main interests are in longitudinal and life-course research, and in the use of large administrative datasets to answer policy and research questions.


Contribution to the accessiblity of quantitative skills

Martin von Randow, COMPASS
24 August 2015

Around the world many groups have been lamenting the shortage of quantitative skills among those entering the workforce, especially in the social sciences. Research methods content has been cut from programmes in order to retain student numbers, leading inevitably to those skills not even being there to pass on. COMPASS has long been working to alleviate these concerns locally, with short courses (NZSSN), data archiving (NZSSDS), and hands-on teaching in both quantitative and qualitative skills at the University of Auckland.

Martin von Randow has worked for COMPASS Research Centre for more than 10 years. Along with his extensive analytical work, he has been involved with a number of “outreach” activities for which COMPASS has taken responsibility. As Operations Manager for courses through the New Zealand Social Statistics Network (NZSSN) and data archiving through the New Zealand Social Science Data Service (NZSSDS), as well as Lab Instructor within quantitative methods courses in the social sciences at the University of Auckland in various applications since 2005. In these ways, he has been central to what COMPASS has given back to the social science community.


Explaining the low income return for education among Asian New Zealanders

Liza Bolton, COMPASS, Department of Statistics
17 August 2015

Aotearoa New Zealand has a long and rich history of migration from Asia, with Asians comprising around 10% of the usually resident population. For people of all ethnicities, educational attainment is positively associated with income, but in all qualification categories at the 2013 Census, Asian New Zealanders were earning markedly less than their European, Māori or Pacific Islander counterparts. This investigation uses 2013 New Zealand Census data to create explanatory models that investigate the factors related to this anomalous difference.

Liza Bolton is a PhD Candidate in Statistics at the University of Auckland, working with the Centre of Methods and Policy Application in the Social Sciences (COMPASS). Liza began her PhD in March 2015, under the supervision of Professor Alan Lee (Department of Statistics) and Dr Barry Milne (COMPASS). The work in this seminar is a continuation of her Honours research.

Life-course predictors of mortality inequalities

Dr Barry Milne, COMPASS
10 August 2015

New Zealand has made great contributions to the understanding of the effects of socioeconomic factors on mortality, using data from the New Zealand Census Mortality Study. We extend this work by linking mortality data to the New Zealand Longitudinal Census – a link of individual Census records from 1981 to 2006 – to assess life-course socioeconomic predictors of mortality. The great advantage of this linkage is that it allows socio-economic, social and cultural influences across 25 years of life to be assessed for their importance in association with mortality.  I will describe this project, its aims, and some early findings.  In particular, I will describe how analysing Census individuals within their family context allows for siblings who experience different socio-economic conditions to be compared in terms of their mortality risk.

Barry Milne is a Senior Research Fellow and Associate Director of the COMPASS Research Centre.  He has a masters degrees in Psychology from the University of Otago, and a PhD in psychiatric epidemiology from Kings College London. His main interests are in longitudinal and life-course research, and in the use of large administrative datasets to answer policy and research questions.



The COMPASS ‘social laboratory’.  A knowledge-based inquiry system

Professor Peter Davis, COMPASS
3 August 2015

What do the books "The Healthy Country?" (Woodward & Blakely) and "The Spirit Level" (Wilkinson & Pickett) have in common? They are big picture, they present novel and stimulating interpretations, they are societal in scope - and they largely rely on aggregated (ecological) data of an observational kind. Can we add methodological precision to these speculations without losing the sense of the "bigger picture"? At COMPASS we have developed a rudimentary inquiry system using simulation methods based on existing research data. We propose over the next two years to extend this system to a societal level using the New Zealand Longitudinal Census.

Peter Davis is Professor of the Sociology of Health and Well-being at the University of Auckland, with cross-appointments in Population Health and Statistics, and founding director of the COMPASS Research Centre, a decade-long grant-funded research group. He has masters degrees in Sociology and Statistics from the London School of Economics, and a PhD in community health from Auckland.  His main interests are in applying advanced methodological techniques to social data in addressing policy and substantive questions.

Combining qualitative and quantitative results in systematic reviews

Chris Bonell

Professor Chris Bonell, University College London
3 March 2015

This presentation on combining qualitative and quantitative results for systematic reviews focussed on three reviews carried out on school environment effects on student health. One examined the effectiveness of “Health Promoting Schools” interventions. The second examined multi-level studies of the health effects of the school environment in the absence of specific intervention. The final review examined qualitative research on the mechanisms by which schools might help or hinder health. The combination of these results is discussed, as is the experience in this area more broadly at the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre at the Institute of Education.

Chris Bonell is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the Institute of Education, University College London. He has held similar appointments at Oxford and the London School of Hygiene. He is the author of 85 scientific publications and author/editor of three books. He has had substantial research grants as a Principal Investigator. He is a member of the Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and previously sat on the London Health Commission.

Find out more about Professor Chris Bonell


Education and labour force participation of Aboriginal peoples in Canada

Martin Spielauer

Dr Martin Spielauer, Statistics Canada
26 February 2015

In this public lecture Dr Martin Spielauer, a Senior Researcher at Statistics Canada, presents a study that aims at quantifying the impact of educational attainments on the future labour force participation of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Using Statistics Canada’s Demosim population projection model, he has been able to simulate alternative scenarios of educational change and resulting effects on the future labour force until 2056.

Demosim is a microsimulation model designed for detailed population projections going beyond the typical age - sex classification of classic population projections by including characteristics like visible minority group, place of birth, generation status, Aboriginal identity, highest level of educational attainment, and labour force participation, among others.

The study reveals that half of the observed difference in labour force participation rates between Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian-born population belonging neither to an Aboriginal nor to a visible minority group can be attributed to educational differences. While the impact of educational improvements on the future labour force is significant, the change is found to be a slow and gradual process, as successive young school-age cohorts have yet to enter the labour market and renew the workforce.

This study can serve as illustration for the use of microsimulation for answering what-if questions. Besides this specific application, the talk also gives a general introduction into demographic microsimulation.

Martin is an expert in demographic and socio-economic microsimulation modelling, and has developed or contributed to models in a wide range of subject matter fields including demography, education, saving and wealth, pension systems, poverty, and health.  He has been engaged in microsimulation projects around the world, including Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, France, India, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, and the USA.  He has also provided training and has been teaching microsimulation modeling and programming at the European Doctoral School for Demography in Germany, France, Sweden, Spain and Poland.