October 2014

Statistics for International Development

Venue: Room A54, Postgraduate Statistics Centre, Lancaster University

Date: 30-10-2014, 3.30 - 5pm


3:30pm: Indian farmer suicides: is GM cotton to blame?

Professor Ian Plewis, University of Manchester

Trends in the numbers of Indian farmers committing suicide have generated considerable media interest and have been linked with changes in farming practices, notably the introduction of genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds. This is one of the arguments used by anti-GM campaigners. The statistical basis for many of the assertions is, however, flimsy. My paper addresses questions about data sources and data quality, the statistical analysis of short time series, and causal inferences from observational and aggregate data. The balance of evidence does not support the asserted link between increases in farmer suicides resulting from growing GM cotton.

Ian Plewis is Professor of Social Statistics at the University of Manchester, having previously worked at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies in London. His research interests are mostly in the measurement and explanation of change, especially using longitudinal data.

4:15pm: Statistics for development

Professor Roger Stern, Statistical Services Centre, University of Reading

Statistical support is required for a wide range of development and research projects. Examples from Africa and beyond are described, particularly focusing on case studies in agriculture and climatology. Parallel efforts to improve and broaden the training of statisticians in Africa are also described, to facilitate more effective use of local resources.