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Benefit sanctions are effective, employment minister says

The Guardian online, 04/02/2015, Frances Perraudin

The employment minister has defended the government’s policy of removing people’s benefit payments when they fail to meet certain conditions. Giving evidence to MPs on the work and pensions select committee, Esther McVey said international evidence pointed to the effectiveness of benefit sanctions, but warned that ‘no system is perfect’ and ideally nobody would need to be sanctioned. Responding to a study from the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which claimed that the majority of those who received benefit sanctions were not going into work, McVey said the researchers had used flawed logic, made ‘leaps in where they got the facts and figures, and they came to the conclusion they wanted to come to’.

Read more on The Guardian website (opens new window)

By 2050, educated Indian women could have a hard time finding ‘suitable’ men: Research

Hindustan Times (India), 04/02/2015, Prasun Sonwalker

Educated Indian women will find it increasingly difficult to find eligible partners by 2050, according to new research that extrapolates current norms and population trends. The paper, published in the journal Demography by researchers at the University of Oxford, the Centre for Demographic Studies, Barcelona, and the Minnesota Population Centre, builds on the premise that a significant proportion of Indian men currently marry women less educated than themselves. The research suggests that if current social norms persist by 2050, when university-educated or college-educated men are more desirable spouses than women similarly educated, there will be a ‘mis-match’ in numbers. Lead author of the paper Ridhi Kashyap said: ‘This research suggests that in India, families need a more open mind about the suitability of marriage partners. The fact that the number of women with higher education is growing is a success story for India.’

Read more on the Hindustan Times website (opens new window)

Working the slopes

Times Higher Education, 05/02/2015, p.48-51, Matthew Reisz

Feature on the work of social geographer Dr Jane Dyson, research associate in the School of Geography and Environment at the University of Oxford. She spent 15 months in a Himalayan village, more than 2,000 metres above sea level, researching the role of child labourers. She lived among the villagers, talking to children and adolescents while they were out herding cattle and collecting lichen and leaves. She has returned to the village and tracked its changes over the past decade as the children have turned into adults. Life has transformed in a single generation, she notes, as ‘young people start to acquire Bas and Mas, though their parents can’t even sign their names.’ While life in the village was full of hardship and took a toll on her health, Dr Dyson said she has built really strong relationships and ‘can’t think of anything more fun than living in the village. I love it.’

Read more on the Times Higher Education website (opens new window)

CCS, trees and soil carbon ‘can’t save coal’

Herald Sun (Australia), 04/02/2015, Tristan Edis

A new study released from the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and Environment suggests carbon capture and storage (CCS) and other options that take greenhouse emissions out of the atmosphere do not provide a saviour for fossil fuels’ climate impacts. The study builds on prior analysis by the Carbon Tracker Initiative which found that CCS technology would potentially avoid 125 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent of 2.5 years of present gross global annual emissions.

Read more on the Herald Sun website (opens new window)