Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Public transport and school location impacts on educational inequalities in Sao Paulo

In 2016, I had the opportunity to attend a session at the AAG conference where Ana Moreno-Monroy presented a very interesting paper analyzing inequalities in school accessibility by public transport  in Sao Paulo. The paper is coming out in the Journal of Transport Geography and it's coauthored by Robin Lovelace and Fred Ramos, such a great team. I should also note that a big chunk of the data analysis was conducted in R using stplanr, a library for transport planning developed by Robin and Richard Ellison and which is a major contribution to the field.

Moreno-Monroy, A. I., Lovelace, R., & Ramos, F. R. (2017). Public transport and school location impacts on educational inequalities: Insights from São Paulo. Journal of Transport Geography.

In many large Latin American urban areas such as the São Paulo Metropolitan Region (SPMR), growing social and economic inequalities are embedded through high spatial inequality in the provision of state schools and affordable public transport to these schools. This paper sheds light on the transport-education inequality nexus with reference to school accessibility by public transport in the SPMR. To assess school accessibility, we develop an accessibility index which combines information on the spatial distribution of adolescents, the location of existing schools, and the public transport provision serving the school catchment area into a single measure. The index is used to measure school accessibility locally across 633 areas within the SPMR. We use the index to simulate the impact of a policy aiming at increasing the centralisation of public secondary education provision, and find that it negatively affects public transport accessibility for students with the lowest levels of accessibility. These results illustrate how existing inequalities can be amplified by variable accessibility to schools across income groups and geographical space. The research suggests that educational inequality impacts of school agglomeration policies should be considered before centralisation takes place.

Figure 2. Visual representation of the 12,697 OD pairs routed through the Google Distance Matrix API on an interactive map in RStudio, an open source data analysis platform.

credit: Moreno-Monroy et al 2017

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Biographical note: moving to Brasilia

In the next couple of days, my partner and I are moving back to  the lovely but car-dependent  Brasilia, in Brazil . We had a wonderful time in the UK after three years in Oxford and one year in Cambridge. I don't have the words to say how much I appreciate the privilege it was to live among such vibrant and global academic communities and how eye-opening this whole experience has been. Time has flown by and I am now returning to my researcher position at the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea).

It feels bittersweet going back to Brazil for various reasons. Perhaps the most important of them is the fact that I haven't finished my PhD yet. I am close to the end, though, and I will soon post some updates about my research.

I also must say it is impossible not to feel disappointed with the economic and political situation in Brazil these days. Nonetheless, I am glad to go back to home, where evidence-based policy is so much needed and where I will keep expanding my (inter)national collaborations. I'm particularly glad that I am going back to a great institution where I can use what I've been learning during my PhD to do policy relevant research. Looking forward to next chapters  I need to finish my PhD first .

Home again

credit: the talented Joana França


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Urban Picture

Stunning construction photos of Zaha Hadid's Leeza SOHO tower, in Beijing. Photo by Satoshi Ohashi. Thanks Jeroen Apers for the pointer

Photo: Satoshi Ohashi

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The paradox of collective choice

In the early 1950s, Kenneth Arrow published his PhD thesis where he demonstrated that it does not exist a method of converting individual preferences into a single group preference that is not limited by a 'voting paradox' at some point. Here is a great video explaining in layman's terms how Arrow's impossibility theorem works.

Needless to say how important this idea is for social choice theory and that it gave Arrow a Nobel Prize in economics. Curious fact. Five of Arrow's former students have won the Nobel Prize.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Transport access to health services

As some of you might remember from an earlier post, my PhD research concentrates on questions of transportation equity, particularly focusing on issues of transport accessibility and inequality of opportunities. Because there is a substantial overlap between my PhD and the research on spatial access to health services, I've read quite a few papers in this literature.

This is a well-studied topic with plenty of publications for those interested.  if you would ask my opinion  I would strongly recommend these two papers below. Together they give a good summary of the cutting-edge research and a very thorough review of various approaches to measuring transport access to health services.

Types of distance. (a) Cartesian distances. (b) Network distances

credit: Apparicio et al 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

3D reconstruction of the Brasilia madness

A beautiful 3D reconstruction of the Brasilia madness. It is a shame the video forgot about the men and women who built the city, but it's still a beautiful tribute to the work of Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Magic roundabouts

Behold the "magic roundabout" in Swindon, England. It is a roundabout formed by 5 smaller roundabouts arranged around a sixth central, anticlock wise roundabout. I would also called it 'magic' if I managed to drive through it and survive. Jokes aside, it seems pretty safe.

Apparently, this is a thing in the UK where they have four other magic roundabouts. Here is how the one in Swindon works:

Friday, August 18, 2017

Social class and commuting in London from 1800 to 1940

In this video Simon Abernethy talks about his PhD thesis where he looked at how public transport shaped the distribution of social classes in London from 1800 to 1940. The interview covers some interesting details about the daily life of suburban commuters back then. I think some urban historians might enjoy it. Looking at you Yuri Gama.

This is a relatively old interview, though. It was recorded in 2013 and Simon has published a few studies since then.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

An R library to analyze and map John Snow's 1854 Cholera data

As many of you will know, an English physician called John Snow mapped the cholera outbreak in the Soho district of London in 1854. That map would later be a key element in the discovery that cholera was caused by contaminated water, not air. It's fair to say this map somehow changed history not only because of the lives it helped save, but perhaps more importantly because of the ways it opened human imagination to the role of spatial analysis in science and human development. Steven Johnson has written a book about the story of this map and its influence on modern science and cities. If you are short in time, there is a great 9-minute video summary of the book here.

All this introduction to say that now there is an R library that allows you to analyze and map John Snow's 1854 Cholera data yourself. Thanks Bob Rudis for calling attention to this library on twitter. Dani Arribas-Bel also pointed out to this chapter / online notebook that presents the documented code for a reproducible spatial analysis of John Snow’s map using mostly Python. This is great material for teaching.

update 16 Aug 2017: RJ Andrews has also pointed me to this paper analyzing the mortality rates and the space-time patterns of John Snow’s cholera epidemic map.