Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Social Sciences

Why cost-benefit analysis is flawed and how to improve it

Cost-benefit analysis is a key component of the US regulatory state. How it works and the function it plays in policymaking is not widely understood, however. Even the most substantive media outlets rarely discuss it. But cost-benefit analysis is a linchpin of the regulatory process. Its structure and role—and its flaws—should therefore be grist for […]

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Why Iran’s dependence on China puts it at risk

The depth of ties between China and Iran was revealed dramatically in late February 2020, when news broke that some of Tehran’s most senior officials had contracted the coronavirus. By early March, one of Iran’s vice presidents, the deputy health minister, and 23 members of parliament were reported ill. A member of the 45-person Expediency […]

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Four women’s quest to end global poverty

Gender matters for policymaking: there is no better evidence than the experience of four women who, twenty years ago, became ministers in charge of international development in their governments and collaborated to develop new approaches to end global poverty. Eveline Herfkens from the Netherlands, Hilde F. Johnson from Norway, Clare Short from the United Kingdom, […]

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Nine books that make you think about a woman’s role in society [reading list]

Every year in March we celebrate Women’s History Month, a perfect time to be inspired by the triumphs of real-life heroes. Let us not forget the path it took to get this far and the tribulations that these women endured. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted […]

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100 years of the Nineteenth Amendment and women’s political action

On 28 August 2020 we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the day the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified. Although the Amendment did not enfranchise all women –African American, Native American, and Latina women would wait decades before they could vote on equal terms– the event is an important milestone in women’s political […]

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The remarkable life of philosopher Frank Ramsey

Frank Ramsey, the great Cambridge philosopher, economist, and mathematician, was a superstar in all three disciplines, despite dying at the age of 26 in 1930. One way to glimpse the sheer genius of this extraordinary young man is by looking at some of the things that bear his name. My favourite was coined by Donald […]

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Seven psychology books that explore why we are who we are [reading list]

Social Psychology looks at the nature and causes of individual behavior in social situations. It asks how others’ actions and behaviors shape our actions and behaviors, how our identities are shaped by the beliefs and assumptions of our communities. Fundamentally it looks for scientific answers to the most philosophical questions of self. These seven books […]

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How academics can leave the university but stay in academia

When “quit lit,” the trend of disillusioned PhDs writing personal essays about their decision to leave academia, hit its peak around 2013, I was just finishing my own PhD coursework. It seemed that every day, as I revised my dissertation proposal and worked on recruiting potential field sites, there was another column about the scarcity of tenure-track […]

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How dating apps reflect our changing times

As we look forward to explore what’s next in love and sex, it makes sense to examine to the heart. That which lovers have once worn on their sleeve is now being navigated in the palm of our hands. With mobile devices and apps letting us literally explore desires with our fingertips, as social scientists […]

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Why the Great Recession made inequality worse

Many compare the Great Recession to the Great Depression for its severity and scale. Yet, a decade later, it is clear that their consequences on the distribution of economic resources in the United States cannot be more different. The decades following the Great Depression substantially reduced the wealth of the rich and improved the economic […]

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Four reasons why the Indo-Pacific matters in 2020

If there is one place in the world that we need to keep our eyes on for a better understanding of the dynamics of international affairs in 2020, it is the Indo-Pacific region. Here are four reasons why. The Indo-Pacific is hard to define Politically, the Indo-Pacific is still a contested construct in the making. […]

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Using math to understand inequity

What can math tell us about unfairness? Bias, discrimination, and inequity are phenomena that are deeply complex, context sensitive, personal, and intersectional. The mathematical modeling of social scenarios, on the other hand, is a practice that necessitates simplification. Using models to understand what happens in our social realm means representing the complex with something much […]

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Six books to read to understand business innovation [reading list]

According to McKinsey & Company, 84% of executives agree on the importance of innovation in growth and strategy in their organizations but only 6% know the exact problem and how to improve in innovation. As the world is moving faster and getting more complex, it is important to find ways to constantly innovate for organizations and […]

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How the UK is facilitating war crimes in Yemen

More than 100,000 people have died in the war in Yemen since March 2015, including over 12,000 civilians killed in direct attacks. All parties to the war have committed violations of international law, but the Saudi-led coalition—armed and supported militarily and diplomatically by the United States and the United Kingdom primarily—is responsible for the highest number […]

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Taking a knee: sports and activism [podcast]

In the fall of 2016, the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick created a firestorm when he took a knee during the national anthem. He was protesting police brutality perpetuated against African-American men, and the reaction to his simple act of dissent was immense.

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How China spurs global dissent

China’s rulers launched the New Silk Road venture—a trillion-dollar development campaign that is often compared to the Marshall Plan—to promote connectivity across what they believed to be poorly integrated regions of Eurasia and Africa. Much to their surprise, however, they discovered that many of these societies were already wired to the hilt—not by the infrastructure […]

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