2015 Colloquium

The 2015 Colloquium started with an introduction from our former director, Professor Peter Davis and an outline of the following presentation topics for the day.

The COMPASS “social laboratory”

Presented by: Professor Peter Davis

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 developed a rudimentary inquiry system using simulation methods based on existing research data. We proposed over the next two years to extend this system to a societal level using the New Zealand Longitudinal Census.

A knowledge laboratory of the early life-course

Presented by: Roy Lay-Yee

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). In the presentation, Roy Lay-Yee described progress on the Knowledge Lab project, and how it will be used to: (1) test the validity of the underlying behavioural equations and specific knowledge sources (meta-analyses, systematic reviews); and (2) test policy scenarios by carrying out experiments on the 'virtual cohort' created by the working model.

Life-course predictors of mortality inequalities

Presented by: Dr Barry Milne

New Zealand has made great contributions to the understanding of the effects of socioeconomic factors on mortality, through the work of Tony Blakely and collaborators using data from the New Zealand Census Mortality Study. We extended 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. In the presentation, Dr Barry Milne described the project, its aims, and some early findings.

Explaining the low income return for education among Asian New Zealanders

Presented by: Liza Bolton

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, and Pacific counterparts. This investigation used 2013 New Zealand Census data to create explanatory models that investigated the factors related to this anomalous difference.

Contribution to the accessibility of quantitative skills

Presented by: Martin von Randow

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.

The New Zealand Election Study (1990–2014)

Presented by: Professor Jack Vowles

The New Zealand Election Study (NZES) has been in the field after every New Zealand election since 1990. This presentation discussed its methodology and some of its main findings, particularly those based on longitudinal analysis. It discussed briefly the contribution of the NZES to the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES), from which a module of questions is included. The NZES faces challenges in the form of barely adequate funding and declining response rates and the presentation concluded with a discussion of how these may be addressed.