Understanding data biases to increase equality

Understanding data biases to increase equality

  • Decorative
    Dr George Charlson

Dr George Charlson, a researcher at the Janeway Institute, is passionate about addressing biases in consumer data collection and increasing participation among minority groups to promote equality in service provision and product targeting, utilising the institute's resources and collaborations to explore innovative solutions. 

“Services and products, including medical interventions, are increasingly targeted to groups of consumers based on data gathered through trials, surveys and research. The problem is that some groups participate more than others, leading to biases in data, which can result in disparities in the quality of service provision. For example, older people are less likely to complete online surveys, so the data gathered is biased, and might not reflect their needs.  

There is more demand for consumer data in the developed world than in the developing world, so services and products become increasingly targeted to the needs of high participation groups, and others may miss out. I’m passionate about exploring this issue so that we can increase participation amongst minority groups and increase equality. 

Being part of the Janeway Institute gives me access to collaborators and cutting-edge ideas. I run weekly webinars that attract inspirational and influential scholars from around the world (I met the co-author of my last paper this way).  

The Institute is funded primarily by Bill and Weslie Janeway, through an endowed gift invested in the Cambridge University Endowment Fund (CUEF).  

The funding enables us to produce frontier work in economics and to bring together researchers from around the globe. It means we can invest in the next generation of economists through a postdoctoral programme, which provides excellent opportunities for young researchers to develop their careers.” 

Dr George Charlson, Janeway Institute Postdoctoral Research Fellow and a Bye-Fellow at Christ's College.  

Reproduced from the Cambridge University Endowment Fund Annual Review 2022.