1+3 studentship

About me

I studied Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 2012. I then went on to work for Camfed International, an NGO promoting female education in Africa, in their Monitoring and Evaluation team. These experiences led me to pursue a PhD applying theory and methods from evolutionary anthropology and demography to education in developing world contexts. I started my 1+3 studentship in 2013, completing an MSc in Demography & Health at LSHTM. I am currently preparing to begin fieldwork in Tanzania in 2016.

My research

The drivers and consequences of the demographic transition remain a key area of debate across the social sciences. Models of the demographic transition emphasise the importance of quantity-quality trade-offs, in which reduced fertility is a response to the increased costs of raising a child in contexts where high levels of education are required, and where children’s economic worth is reduced. Changing patterns of parental investment and trade-offs between work activities and school are thus critical to our understanding of fertility decline, yet surprisingly few studies have investigated changes in children’s time allocation in contemporary populations undergoing subsistence and demographic transitions. Education and children’s work are also areas of policy concern, with universal education being an important international development target, and ‘child labour’ often portrayed as intrinsically harmful. Critiques of this perspective include a lack of empirical research on how children divide time between work and schooling, and how parental investment and child time allocation are influenced by both household (wealth, livelihood), and individual (gender, birth order) factors. My research investigates parental investment in education and children’s time allocation to work activities among Sukuma agro-pastoralists in Kisesa ward in northwestern Tanzania using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Predictions about children’s education and work will be derived from theoretical frameworks in evolutionary anthropology and demography, which, in contrast to much of the policy-oriented literature, emphasise the economic

My Collaborations

I collaborate with Savannas Forever Tanzania (www.sftz.org), an NGO that collects high-quality data and uses research to measure the impact of development projects. I used data collected by SFTZ as part of the Whole Village Project to investigate the determinants of educational outcomes in the Arusha region of Tanzania, resulting in a paper published in November 2015 in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.


David W. Lawson: http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/aboutus/people/lawson.david
Rebecca Sear: http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/aboutus/people/sear.rebecca


Hedges, S., Borgerhoff Mulder, M., James, S., & Lawson, D.W. (in press) Sending Children to School: Rural Livelihoods and Parental Investment in Education in Northern Tanzania. Evolution and Human Behavior

Hedges, S. & Lawson, D.W. (2015) The costs and benefits of child labor. Comment on Lancy (2015) Children as a reserve labor force. Current Anthropology, 56 (4): 545 – 568

External links

http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/aboutus/people/hedges.sophie https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sophie_Hedges