• Room G20, Ground Floor, Humanities Building, Bridgeford Street

    M13 9PL Manchester

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


Wendy Olsen works as Professor of Socio-Economics and was previously head of the Department of Social Statistics in the School of Social Sciences. She worked till 2014 both for the Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM) and in Social Statistics (half-time in each). She has also taught sociology, development economics, and research methodology. She teaches statistics and PhD research methodology as well as computerised qualitative data analysis, the comparative method, the case-study method, and topics like gender, employment, and child labour in India. She also carries out externally funded research projects. She is fostering the use of mixed-methods datasets.

Wendy Olsen gained British and European citizenship in 2016.

Research Focus Statement:

Wendy Olsen's research focuses on the sociology of economic life. She has interests in methodology cutting across the whole range from quantitatively based to qualitative research and discourse analysis. She specialises in the study of economic institutions from sociological and moral economy vantage points. Her research has included case studies of Indian and UK labour markets, the credit market involvement of the poor in India, and other topics in economic sociology.

USEFUL NOTES:  In order to use this site, notice the Tabs at the top.  You should see a Publications tab, which has links to downloadable files, and other useful Tabs.  You may also scroll down at any time. 

CONTACT ME BY POST:  Wendy Olsen, Room G27A, Humanities BUilding, Social Statistics Department, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL

Research interests

Wendy Olsen's research focus is how social aspects of labour relationships affect economic outcomes. She has conducted country case research on and in India, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Tanzania, Bangladesh and the UK. Her PhD students also did research in Ecuador, Nigeria, Vietnam, Brazil, Benin, India, UK, Germany, and Bangladesh. She welcomes applications for PhD research on: gender and labouring; attitudes to work; panel data analysis of any topic such as poverty, education outcomes, labour-force participation or hours of (paid) work; and part-time work.

She approaches methodology from the standpoint of integrated mixed methods.  That stance may influence her PhD students. She works under the assumption that market and non-market social relations are closely woven together. Her research links political economy -- notably moral economy -- to each substantive research project. In the Discipline of Social Statistics she also links large-scale data sets to smaller sample surveys, or to interviews. There are new ways to match data of qualitative and quantitative kinds. She also does research on well-being, poverty, deprivation and government index numbers.

Proposed PhD research projects - Ideas from Wendy Olsen

Applicants for PhD will get my attention most if they want to work on:

  1. Factor analysis and/OR structural equation modelling OR panel data e.g. Young Lives Panel survey,  National Sample Survey data, Demographic and Health Surveys, or something like the UN's MICS data on children. (see UNICEF, MICS; and https://dhsprogram.com/data/)
  2. Self-employment outcomes and the quality of working life, with a gender angle.
  3. Comparative research project across any 2-4 countries including sophisticated statistical methods.
  4. Labouring, innovation, and institutions: A study of poor labourers in X (any country or region).
  5. Labouring, law and cases of contestation: A systematic comparative study of legal cases and pre-lawsuit situations in Y (e.g. rural India).
  6. Ethical Trading Initiative And/or Bonded Labour / Overtime in the context of Z (country), a study of moral economy and ethics.
  7. Philosophy of science and the new dialectics: a methodological exploration of issues and data. The dynamics of discursive intertextuality and agency, or a reassessment of a small survey with specific reference to large-scale survey results and how their interpretation changes when we take into account local voices.
  8. Pseudo panel methods in sociology:  this is where a repeated survey using different cross-sectional samples is merged and the regression results are decomposed - email me to find out more.


Further information

Related staff: If you are wanting to apply for a PhD you may also consider these staff members who work closely with me. They either study life-course stages and demography or working lives/ time-use diaries or related matters:  Dr. Kathrin Morosow, Dr. Nan Zhang, Dr. Jihye Kim, and Dr. Sook Kim.  


  • •Development Research.
  • •Methodology and Research Design.
  •   & Integrated Mixed Methods Research with QCA Summer School (see Methods@Manchester website)
  • •Latent Factor Analysis.
  • •Qualitative Comparative Analysis.
  • •Applied Statistics.
  • •Causal Analysis with STATA.

Editing Experience

Editor, European Journal of Development Research, 2017-.

Editorial Board, Work, Employment and Society, 2017-2019.

Associate Editorial Board of Work, Employment and Society 2011-2014 and 2015-2016.

Associate Editor, Sociology, 2010-2013.
Editorial Board, Journal of Developing Societies, 2010-present.
Editorial Board, Capital and Class, 2012- present.

Editorial Board of Work, Employment and Society 2005-8.  This journal is sponsored by the British Sociological Association.

Other Public Service

I sit on the Council of the Association for Heterodox Economics. From 2015-2017 I am the Coordinator of AHE.  Please see www.hetecon.net 

I was for many  years on the editorial board of Capital & Class.

I am an editor of the Journal of Developing Societies.
I was Vice President (2007-8 and 2009-10), the University and College Union, University of Manchester branch, and Treasurer 2005-2007 as well as President 2008-9.
Board of Directors, The Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre, Eccles, Salford. 2005-2009.
Chair, Salford Women's Centre, 2009-10. Secretary 2008-9.
Auditor, two small national sports organisations.
Salford - Moorside High school governor, 2006-8.

Treasurer, Salford Green Party, 2014-5 . Secretary, 2016-7.

Phd Students (a partial list)
Heather Piggott - 2014-2017 (jointly with IDPM)

Kevwe Pela - 2014-2017 (jointly with IDPM)

Troncoso-Ruiz, Patricio, 2011-2014 PhD, co-supervisor, Value-Added Across Schools in Chile, Scholarship from the Government of Chile.
Menon, Nikhila, 2012-2015, PhD, co-supervisor, Informal Sector Fish Workers and Gendered Aspects of Physical Autonomy in South India. Commonwealth Scholarship.
Bayliss, David, 2012-2015, PhD, Well-being and the UK Recession: Structural Equation Models, ESRC AQM studentship.
Murray, Andrea, 2009-2013, PhD, Social Norms in Tea Production Chains: South Indian Evidence of Change Around Organic Standards.
Watson, Samantha. Political Economy of MIcrofinance in India: Using Mixed Methods. ESRC Studentship. 2008-2011.
Wardle, Elizabeth. Child Labour in Construction: A Comparative Study of India and Benin. IDPM. 2008/9 to 2011/12.
Zhu Di, 2007-2010, PhD, co-supervisor, Luxury Consumption Practices in China.
Watt, 2005-2008, PhD, co-supervisor, Youth Attitudes to Relationships.
Neff, 2005-2008, PhD, ESRC , Subjective Well-Being in India.
Limmer, 2006-2009, PhD, ESRC 1+3 , Women in Self-Employment in UK.
Walthery, 2006-2009, PhD, ESRC 1+3, Women Returners? Preferences in UK.
Taylor, MPhil 2002-2006, Women in Small Business in South India.
McGrath, 2006-2009, Forced Labour In Brazil.

Download My Work

Please do use our site to Download my Open Access materials - there's a lot!  (a) See the Publications tab of this profile, and just click the links!

or (b) my own site, www.ruralvisits.org

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Economics DPhil and MPhil, Oxford University

Award Date: 1 Nov 1991

Areas of expertise

  • HA Statistics
  • time-series models
  • structural equation models
  • fuzzy-set measurement
  • causality
  • Oaxaca decomposition
  • time-use diary data
  • HM Sociology
  • employment
  • gender
  • South Asia
  • methods of research
  • quantitative methods in sociology
  • HB Economic Theory
  • labour supply
  • institutions
  • norms
  • culture
  • conventions
  • gender
  • South Asian economies
  • work
  • time-use
  • statistical modelling
  • explanatory theories

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Work and Equalities Institute
  • Cathie Marsh Institute
  • Global inequalities


  • employment
  • gender
  • India
  • South Asia
  • methods
  • philosophy of science
  • realism
  • labour supply
  • attitudes
  • gender norms


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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