Ilze Plavgo

Researcher, PhD candidate
European University Institute

ilze photo03

About Me


I am a quantitative researcher working on inequalitypoverty, and social policy. My research themes include social stratification, inequality in educational opportunities, unequal life-course trajectories, economic inequality, and child poverty. I also research the potential of social investment policies to reduce poverty and social inequalities. The geographic focus of my research is on Africa and Europe.

I am currently a PhD candidate in Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute (EUI). As part of my doctoral studies, I am exploring trends and determinants of intergenerational educational inequality in sub-Saharan Africa and analysing micro-level mechanisms behind inequality in educational trajectories. I am also interested in the extent to which public policy reforms can reduce these inequalities, a topic I focused on during my stay as visiting scholar at the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre at the University of Cambridge in 2019. 

Before joining the EUI, I worked as a researcher at the UNICEF Office of Research (2011-2014) and at the Economic Policy Research Institute (2015-2016) where I carried out research on the measurement and analysis of child poverty and social policy. My work also involved leading regional and national workshops on poverty measurement for UNICEF regional and country offices and local partners.

In addition to academic research, I teach quantitative methods and social protection analysis, write opinion articles to the media, and engage in research and training with governmental institutions and international organizations, among other activities. You can find my full CV below.

Employment & Education


2016 - today

European University Institute (EUI), Fiesole, Italy

PhD candidate in Political and Social Sciences (4-year full-time fully funded doctoral programme). Thesis: Intergenerational inequality in educational opportunities in low-income settings.


University of Cambridge, UK

Visiting scholar at the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre, Faculty of Education. Research focus: social stratification in education in Ethiopia using Young Lives and RISE longitudinal data.

2015 - 2016

Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRI), Cape Town, South Africa / Brussels, Belgium

Social Policy Consultant. Research projects: social protection and child poverty analyses in Morocco, Algeria, and Kenya.

2011 - 2014

UNICEF Office of Research at Innocenti, Florence, Italy

Social and Economic Policy Consultant. Research projects: measurement and analysis of multidimensional child poverty; technical support to UNICEF country and regional offices; social protection evaluation.

2009 - 2010

Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, Maastricht University, the Netherlands

MSc in Public Policy and Human Development. Specialization: Social Policy Design. Thesis: Evaluation of the ‘Placement for Training’ Unemployment Reduction Programme in Mauritius.

2005 - 2009

University of Dundee, Scotland

MA joint honours in European Studies and International Relations (First class honours). Thesis: What are the obstacles for effective cooperation between the EU and Russia?

2007 - 2008

Université Pierre-Mendès France, Grenoble, France

Erasmus exchange at the Faculty of Law. University diploma received: Administration et Politique Internationales.